Join Von Glitschka for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating a Native American design, part of Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory.
(industrial sounds) - [Instructor] Welcome to Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory. I grew up in the pacific northwest and I absolutely love the artwork associated with the First Nation tribes. It's been a huge influence on me since I was a little kid, and in context of design, one could easily argue that it utilizes a graphic design sense before even modern-day graphic design was even coined.
The image you see in front of you is of a tribe based out of Ketchikan, and this dates back to the early 1800s, but you can see the artwork that they would draw on their cedar houses, and this is something that I saw all the time whenever I went growing up, and here's another example of a pacific northwest tribe. You can see in the background here, once again, on their cedar house, this very graphic stylization, in this case, of a bird, and then they take that same sense of kind of graphic simplicity, and they take any kind of theme, in this case, a salmon, and they create this really cool sculpted artwork based off of that theme, and I just love how graphic it is, and the color is also unbelievable, so if you look at a lot of different examples of their artwork in context, such as on this cedar house, many times they have these totems that are over the entrance as you walk in to the cedar house, but you can see all the really cool graphics that they've created that kind of adorn the outside of the facility, and even on the totem poles themselves, you can see how they stylize their eyes in certain ways, especially on other Native American art in the pacific northwest, it kind of utilizes the same flatness and graphic simplicity, and one of the color themes that is used a lot is simple black and red and this kind of seafoam green, which is kind of cool.
And so what we're going to do is we're going to take these same aesthetic cues that are derived from this wonderful culturally-based artwork and we're going to create a design motif that kind of utilizes those sensibilities and see what we can come up with. So, where does it start? Well, it all starts in analog, all starts with drawing, and this is where I started. It's just a simple thumbnail sketch. I only drew half of this, this was a symmetric sketch, and then scanned it into Photoshop just to clone it, just to kind of get an idealization of what this could be and where it could go.
I didn't even draw any more detail than this, because I want it to be a little less structured in terms of how I was going to formulate these shapes. I wanted to utilize vectors, of course, but I wanted to do it in a way that kept it somewhat organic in how I pulled that off, and that was a big thing for me, because I wanted this to feel very authentic when it was all said and done, not a mere facsimile of the style, but really authentic and true to the style. And because of that, I didn't want absolutely perfect shapes, and this is a perfect circle, and I didn't want it to be a perfect circle.
If you look at this artwork, it's never perfect circles. They're almost like, imperfect circular shapes and that's kind of what I wanted to pull off here, so one thing I do, if I'm needing to create a shape that is still symmetric but somewhat reminiscent of a circle, I'll start with a circle shape like this, but then I'll pull out the handles like this and I'll use a rectangular shape to kind of guide my efforts to keep all of the various angles the same on each of the nodes that I'm pulling out from.
So, I'll do that to keep those in line, then I'll rotate this rectangle, then I'll select these paths, and then I'll pull these out, like this. And what I'm doing here is I'm keeping a circular shape but I'm not worrying about it being a perfect circle. Once we do that, we can get rid of that shape. But this is what I was after, I wanted it to remain circular, but have that nice kind of elegant imperfectness to it, if you will.
And so that's where I started. Now, when I created other elements in this design, you can see that some of it is created with shapes, like these here, that make up the central face motif on this design, but then I add this design, which is just simply drawn with one anchor point at a time. I'll select a shape like this, and I'll go ahead and go to object, then I'll go to path, then I'll go to offset path, and in this case, I think I want it about three, and yeah, that looks good.
And make sure it's on top, then I'll select this shape and I'll trim it using pathfinder, like this, to get the final shape I want, as shown here. Now, once I have this, I'll go in on a shape like this and I'll, let's zoom in, so you can really appreciate what's going on here, this is where finessing comes in. I want to get rid of extra anchor points like this, and this is why I use plugins, because there's no effective way to get rid of this in Illustrator without destroying this path.
What I can do using a plugin like Pathscribe is I can select this smart remove feature and click it, and it will get rid of that anchor point without destroying the path that it was one, it doesn't change the angle or anything, and that's important, because I'm going to go ahead and round these elements now. So, this is where I'll start, and then I'll come in using the dynamic corner tool once again. I don't use the corner widget in Illustrator.
If you like using it, great, you can do everything I'm going to show show here, it'll just probably go a little slower, but I'll just use the dynamic corner tool, just to pull out these rounds, such as like this, and it goes really quickly, because this tool works really quickly, and on this one, I'm going to pull this one out all the way, like this, but this is how I'll really quickly get that aesthetic that is familiar with this style of artwork and be able to do it quickly, so I created my base shape with the anchor point tool, editing it by doing an offset path from our base shape, we made it from the face, and then use a rounding effect to finalize that shape, and all that comes together really really quickly, and it's not hard to do whatsoever.
So, that's how I'll pull that off. Now, once I have all of that, I can create the other elements. So you can see how all these interior shapes, such as this one and this one, because I'm working off of symmetry here, I only have to create one side and I can clone and flip it. So, example, on this face here, the mouth detail, I can select these shapes, clone 'em, command C, command F, I can go over here to the reflect tool, find a central anchor point, click on it, reflect those over, select all these shapes, like this, unite 'em together with pathfinder, you want to make sure you make a compound, and I have compound turned on with F7, so I don't even have to go here, but I just use F7.
Then I can select this mouth shape and I can punch it through, so it goes very quickly when you build with symmetric ideals in mind on a motif like this. So, I can select these shapes here, and once again, command C, command F to clone it, use the reflect tool, find a central anchor point and reflect those. So, the process can go very quickly to build your artwork. I'll do all of that same kind of reflection, selecting all of the elements in the face, for example, command C, command F, find a central anchor point, and reflect all of those.
So, the whole process goes really quick if you get used to working or thinking, that is, in a symmetric way. Now, as I build like artwork, and I've touched on this in a previous movie, but this kind of representation of a wing, it's going to be easier to build it at a 90-degree angle, so this is where I'll re-orient my initial sketch, as shown here, and then on top of it, it just makes it a lot easiest to just go ahead and build it from this orientation.
I don't have to worry about working at angles, it's just going to make the whole process go faster. So, what I'm going to do is I'm going to clone this, command C, command F, we'll drag this shape over, and I'm going to select these two and intersect it to get this shape, as shown here. Then I'll go back to this dynamic rounding tool that's part of the plugins, and I'm going to round the tips of these, like this, and now, with that selected, I'll go ahead and go to object, I'll go to path, I'll go to offset path.
And, let's hit six, six looks good. Do that, make sure this new shape is on top, I'm going to select these and I'm going to punch through, and that's how I'm going to start creating all the shapes needed to pull off this wing detail. So, I'll just go in here now, once again, this is why I love this rounding tool, it's just so easy to use, and I'll go in and I'll start finessing on those shapes. So, that's how I'll approach building. I use one shape to create and manipulate other shapes, and it makes it go faster if you can think like that.
And so, on all of these, you can see how I've created other base elements here. I'll select a shape like this, once again, make sure it's on top, select these shapes, and then I can just simply remove from shape using pathfinder to trim those, to get those where I want. I can select shapes like this, once again, pathfinder to remove and create the final shapes needed. So, it goes really quickly. Once you figure one out, you can apply that same principal to other ones.
I can use a shape like this. Select this and go ahead and align it, like that, and then once I have that, then it's easy to just simply start editing these shapes. Once you have one, it's easy to edit and create the other ones to create all the core central artwork needed, in this case, all of these elements, finessed like this, and now, once I have this, it's easy, then, to just copy and rotate that into place.
So once I have it on one side, I can clone it, command C, command F, use the reflect tool, find a central anchor point and reflect it over. So, the process can go fast if you think through it and realize what you can replicate without it looking replicated, that's a very important thing to point out, in my opinion. Now, it gets to the fun part. We have all of our base vectors created. We're going to simply colorize it now. So, this is where we'll turn it to black and white, and I have a central tonal family, and this tonal family is derived and based off of the historical colors that you see associated with pacific northwest art in the First Nation tribes.
And so, we're going to zoom in on this face right now, and the first color I'm going to work out is, I'm going to fill this with this nice kind of aqua color, and then I'm just going to start selecting other shapes, and it's very symmetric in terms of how color is applied on these as well. They tend to match one side to the other. And so, I'm selecting everything that's going to make up this red color, and ooh, that looks good. I'm going to select areas that I want to be white, so we'll select those.
Those are looking good. And I'm going to turn these white too. That looks good. And we'll go ahead and kind of scroll down here. All of these inner shapes here, we'll make this color, and... We're going to make it this color, we'll go ahead and zoom out a little bit, there we go, that'll be easier. And then we'll select all the shapes that are going to end up being red.
Like this one, these two, like that. We'll select these, like that. And if I wanted to, I could have actually just colorized this one and then flipped it, but I wasn't really thinking that far ahead. That would actually save me a little time, I wouldn't have to color both sides again, but that's okay. This isn't going to be too difficult. Go ahead and color. But you can see how quickly application of color, especially on this style, goes really really fast.
And if you're looking at historical references, it's going to go even faster, it'll give you ideas about how to handle color, how to balance color. There is not a whole lot of color, the color palettes with this type of artwork are very simplified, and work really well, so I don't want to violate that, I want to stay within the traditional realm of how they applied color. I think it's just going to look authentic, that's what I'm going for, and I want to stick with that kind of limited color pallette and specifically use a color pallette that has the hues associated with this type of artwork, so we'll go ahead and colorize a few of these other shapes, like this, and all of these, and I think this might be it.
Forgot this guy. So, that's as easy as it gets when it comes to color. I think that's looking absolutely amazing. And so, what I want to do now is, as I was looking at this, I like to set things aside and come back to it later, and then determine if anything needs to change, and when I did on that one, I decided I was going to change the stark black, because I noticed on some of the artwork, they do use the actual wood surface as a color at times, they don't always paint it black, and so I decided to go with a really dark brown, and I really thought this brought a nice richness to everything and really raised the sophistication level.
Now, this is where I'm going to have some fun. Most of this type of artwork is done on a wood surface, so we're going to take a wood texture here, and I'm just going to apply a color to the wood texture. In this case, it's going to be the same brown as the darkest brown here, it's just I'm going to adjust the value to about 80, so I want it to run through that brown, and then I've created a mask using all the shapes that are only the areas of the design that are the darkest color, and I'm going to select that with that texture, and I'm going to mask that texture, and it's going to warn you, 'cause this is a complex shape.
I really wish Illustrator didn't do this. Yes, I know what I'm doing, it's okay, hit yes. And it's going to mask that texture into that, only the areas of the darkness, and you can see how you get this cool texture running through. We're going to do that one other time, we're going to turn on the same texture, yet this one's going to affect all the light areas in the design, and so I want this to be a lot more faint, so I'm going to select it, and we're going to go ahead and color this once again, this same brown color, but once again, I want the color really really faint, so we're going to go down to only a 10% of this brown color, and then I'm going to go to the transparency pallette, I'm going to select multiply, so it multiplies with the color underneath it, in this case, the lighter color, and then, we're going to turn on a mask we created that, once again, only focuses on those lighter areas, we'll select that, and now we'll mask this, it's going to warn us again, you can just ignore this, and you can see how nice this ends up looking.
I'm going to zoom in on this, 'cause it really does have a nice look and feel if you zoom in on it. So, where it runs over the darkness of the color, you got some of that texture showing through, and where it runs over the lightness, it has some nice texture showing through, so, I love the way this design came out, and hopefully in the future, I'll try this same look and feel again. I encourage you to tap into the local history where you live and see how artwork played a part in shaping their culture. Art is a universal language, and appreciating how different cultures use it helps us all.
Thank you for watching DVG Lab, and until next time, never stop drawing.
Skill Level Intermediate
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