Join Von Glitschka for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating an Art Print Part 1, part of Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory.
- [Narrator] Welcome to Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory. In this movie, I want to go over the process of creating an art print. When I say art print, I mean a piece of artwork that isn't client driven, this is more a personal passion project of mine, to create a piece of artwork I could hang in my home. You could hang it in your studio, you could hang it anywhere. And where this process started was I had purchased an iPad pro a little over a year ago and I got an Apple pencil stylus with it and I started drawing what you see here.
I call them super doodles. I drew them in an application on the iPad called Concepts, and it's a vector based drawing program, but you can also place transparent paint images in it to get the nice texturing. It's just a fun app to play with. And I created these, and I really like doing this. And in the process of drawing on the iPad, I started looking at some of the styles I was creating of the characters, and I really liked it. I want to kind of bring it over into Illustrator and create a vector based illustration playing off this style.
So this is one I created called Hungry Like a Wolf and here's another one called Inner Voice, and I just like the styling on these characters. You can see them here in this face and the background here and I wanted to capture that same aesthetic but in a vector based environment so that I could then turn around and create a large format art print that I could hang in my house. So I want to walk you through how I created that and all the various things I did to pull it off. And it all starts where most of my projects start, in the drawing stage.
So this is my rough sketch that I drew out. I didn't worry about tightening it up too much, I just captured the essence of the characters I wanted here. This was actually loosely inspired by a book I was reading and some of the layers' naming, as you'll see later, kind of reflect that. I like having fun with the layer names anyway, so that's something to keep in mind. But when I start on a project like this and I go to start building it, it doesn't always have to be the pen tool.
Meaning I don't always have to go click, one anchor point, build the next. In this case, I'm just gonna go ahead and select the zoom tool here and zoom in on just a part of this illustration. These little floating kind of nodes here. And we're gonna use the shape tool, and I use this methodology a lot, especially on a loose drawing like this. Part of its charm is that it's not perfect. That the shapes, even though circular in nature aren't exact, perfect circles, nor do they need to be exact perfect circles.
When I create a shape like this, I may rotate it. But then could also change to the direct selection tool and I'll grab anchor points and I'll start moving around my anchor point locations just to make it still in general a circular shape, but it's more oblong. It has a little more character like my sketch. So I think that's important to keep in mind when you're creating your artwork. I'm going to clone this, Command+C, Command+F, or I use the F3 key that assigns those commands to it.
And then I can size this down and create the other shapes. Once again, I'll switch to the direct selection tool and either grab an anchor point or a handle, move it out to do that. I'll go back to the shapes tool and I'll go ahead and create some more, once again, I don't worry about keeping it perfectly straight, meaning I don't hold shift down, I just kind of drag it out until I get a shape I like. And then I'll go back and adjust it, rotate it if needed, and in this case, I'll select an anchor point and move it down because I don't want them to be perfect circular shapes.
So that's all I'm doing here. Now, when the anchor point does come into play like, for instance, on these little branches that shoot out of these things, I could just do one stroke and adjust the stroke size and then expand it but I don't like doing that on stuff like this. I like giving it more character where I can control kind of the thicks and thins the way I want to without adding a whole lot of anchor points, and so I'll handle it like this where I just create shapes to play the part of these branches.
I'll select them, I'll go to pathfinder, I'll select unite, and that fuses them together. Then I can take these shapes like these circles here and I can clone them, Command+C, Command+F or F3 if you have keyboard shortcuts set up, and then you can unite that. And you want to make sure when you use these methods, right now, if we go to the appearance panel, you can see it's a group. You want to make sure it's a compound if you're gonna use this to trim off this branch shape now and the way, I have F7 keys set up, so I can hit F7 and it'll change this from a group to a compound.
But to change it from a compound you'd go to Object, Compound Path, and Make, and you can see how I have F7 set up, so we'll click that. And with this on top of the branch shape, I'll select the branch like this and then I'll trim it off like that. So this is the methodology I'm going to use to create all my artwork, all the various shapes within this illustration, and that does take time. It doesn't go fast, but it's fun.
That's why I like doing it. And once you have your drawing worked out and you're just building based off your drawing, not that you won't make adjustments as you go along. You will, there's areas on this where I changed my mind, such as here I didn't like how I had those so big so I made them smaller. I ignored this line going through here, I didn't think that was necessary, and so on and so forth. So making decisions as you go along is part of the process. But when it comes to coloring, that's when it gets a lot of fun. This is when I really like to pick a tonal family, so for this illustration, I wanted to keep all the artwork within this tonal family and limit it to this tonal family.
Now this is gonna go in our home, and as you'll see coming up shortly, my wife does have a little bit of say in the color decisions I should put it. But in this case, I want to color this base vector art and work out all my flat colors first. And so that's what I'm gonna do here. Now when I have outlined shaped like this, all this is is a magenta outline with no fill. When I have this set up like this, sometimes it's a little hard to select down and you might go into isolation mode like that, but I want to select, like I have the nose, but I want this piece behind the top of the eye and it's hard to select those shapes at times.
You end up getting other shapes that you don't want. Now you can hold Command down and click to do subselection illustrator, but it doesn't work well. And it certainly doesn't work well when it's just strokes, no fills. It makes it virtually impossible to do in my opinion. I wish they had improved that functionality, but they haven't. So what I usually do in something like this is I'll select everything and I'll go white fill it so it still looks the same, but this way I can select any shape I want as fast as I want.
So you can see how I've selected the shape I intended. And now I can start working out the coloring. This is where I'll jump to the eyedropper tool and I'll just sample my swatches I've pulled out here and you can see it just makes the process go a little bit quicker. So I can select this and color that. I can select, let's see, we'll do his eye. And then the shapes in his eyes we'll do. This'll be white. We'll select this one, this'll be white.
Same thing for, you can see I keep going into isolation mode and that tends to be a little sensitive. But it is helpful and I'm gonna be showing you that also within this project so you can see why I use isolation mode, cause it does help a lot in a certain context. So we're just gonna go ahead and pick different areas and with this style, it's very forgiving in terms of the colors I'm using.
I just decide what goes well together and I'm picking those colors. And on some of these, I'll select the color and then I'll go ahead and adjust the tint of it so it's not always the full strength hue. I'll like tint it back, so on this one, I'll go like 50%. And I'll select the nose and we'll make that blue. Select the inside, make that blue. And then the last thing I want to color here and then we'll move on to the next step is the inside of the nose.
So this is the process I'll use to create the nose, and what I do is I establish my flat colors first. So this shows all of my flat colors established. Once I have all my flat colors worked out, I want to start adding a little more interest to them in terms of bringing in a little dimension to create that interest. It doesn't have to be completely modeled, I'm not going for anything to give a 3D aspect to this but I just want to breathe a little bit of life into it. And so I do that by using some subtle detailing.
And what helps here is as you build your base vector art that you saw me creating initially with all just magenta outlines, you'll want to save shapes. So you can see how I have two shapes on top of this, let me just toggle off this bottom image. You can see I have these two shapes from when I built my original artwork, and I always save shapes like this as I'm building. That way I can go back and I can reuse them to create other content later on as I work on my project.
So in this case, I want to go ahead, we'll actually turn that back off again. I'm gonna go ahead and take this one and I'm gonna clone it, Command+C, Command+F, and I'm just gonna slide this down a little bit like this and this is on top of the other shape. Then I'll select the other shape and I'm just gonna lop it off. Actually, let's make sure we have it going off this side a little bit like this. And we'll go ahead and lop that off so we have this sliver shape we've created.
Now we're gonna do the same thing here, Command+C, Command+F, then I'll just shift it down a little bit, select these two shapes, and punch those out. Now the reason why I did that is I'm gonna use this to add some nice coloring and detail to this. So we'll turn our artwork on underneath. I'll select this top one and I'll go to the eyedropper, we'll sample white, and then this bottom one we're gonna sample the dark color.
Now I don't want to keep it this way, so I'm gonna select the white, I'm gonna go to transparency palette, and I'm gonna make the opacity on this 35. And you can see how it creates a nice highlight going over the top of this character, and this bottom one, we're gonna go ahead and set this to a Blend mode of multiply, means this color is gonna multiply with the colors underneath it, and then we'll set the transparency to 25. So you can see it creates this nice kind of shadowing and it adds this little bit of dimension.
This isn't hard to do, and this is the way I handle all the detailings, so when it's all said and done, you get a really nice kind of dimensional aspect added to the artwork, and this is a lot of fun. Now, when I was creating artwork like this, I tried to experiment with other ways of shading to see if I liked it, and I didn't necessarily use it, but it shows me what I could do on other potential projects moving forward, so I probably will go back to it. And the first one I want to show you is inner glow.
So we'll go ahead and turn this layer on and then the face. So you have the face and then these kind of things shooting out from this character's head. I wasn't sure what to call it, so I just named the layer "protuberances" and that's kind of what those things are, but I thought that name was kind of funny. Now I'm gonna turn off this face really quickly so I can show you another shape I created, and this shape was created by just simply selecting all of these shapes, the face and the elements that are kind of coming off of it, all of these and then uniting them into one shape.
So I'm not gonna do that here. I'm gonna show you that later on in this project on why I use that to create other elements, but that's how I ended up creating this overall element. Now what I want to do here is I want to go ahead and select this shape and I'm gonna go ahead to swatches, I'm gonna fill it white, remove the outline, and now what I want to do is I want to go up to Effect, I want to pull down to Stylize, and then I want to go over to Inner Glow and click that.
This will open up this screen, the mode. We're gonna want to have Multiply. This is where you can select your colors, so I'll click this, click on swatches, and I want to select this dark blue color here, click okay. Now we want to make some decisions here. I try to control my opacity outside of this, because this is hidden like a couple layers deep, so I'm gonna just put in 100 here, because I want to keep that there. And we can preview this, so we'll do that.
And you can see how it adds this inner glow. Now, five isn't bad, but I want it more than that. So I'm gonna go, let's try nine. That looks good. And we want it from the edge going inwards. Not center, center would look like this, we don't want that. We want edge. And I'm gonna click okay. Now if I turn on my layer underneath it, you can see you can't see it because this is still opaque. So what we're gonna do is we're gonna go over with this selected, this shape selected, we're gonna go over to our transparency palette and select multiply, and that will make anything white transparent, and you can see it's starting to shade these protuberances that are coming off the character which looks kind of good, but it's a little too intense in terms of its opacity.
So we want to adjust this opacity and make it far more faint. We'll go 20 like this. And we'll go ahead and turn on the face now. And you can see it has kind of a nice aesthetic to it. If we zoom in on this and I toggle off the inner glow, this doesn't look bad if I toggle it on. This looks kind of cool, it gives another element of dimension to it. The only thing I don't like about this is where these darker colors go over lighter colors. They tend to look a little muddy, and that's why I don't use this methodology all the time.
I wish there was some special like shadow color and it would work well on lighter colors, but so far they haven't come up with the blend mode like that. But this is how you could use inner glow to do this kind of detailing. And I will use that in other aspects of the art moving forward. Now another thing you can do is here's another character within this motif, and when I build this, these are all separate shapes here. But to pull this off on something like this, you'll want to select everything and group it, Command+G, so now it's one unified whole.
And now with it grouped, I'm gonna go back up to the effects down to stylize, down to drop shadow, and I'm gonna click on that. And now we're gonna be able to set the settings for this. In this, I want it to be multiplied and I don't want it really dark, so we'll go 25 and then you can decide how far off if it you want the drop shadow to be. So we'll do 5, 5, 5, well, let's take a look how this looks. And that looks good, I think that'll work.
So we'll go okay. And if I deselect this, you can see now it has a nice drop shadow applied to everything. I use drop shadows a lot within the context of working on certain elements just to give that extra little outside profile to pop something off a background, but in this case, I was experimenting to see if I wanted these just to float on a white background. I like the white background, but I didn't so much want to use the drop shadow for that, but if you want to use drop shadow effects, that's how you'd pull that off.
So moving forward, creating the rest of my artwork based off of my sketch, I like to organize my layers so each of these elements, this one is called Glory and is on his own layer, here's another called Elohim and it's on its own layer, but notice these are grouped elements. I can double click this and go into what's called isolation mode, shown up here, and then this gives me other choices to select parts of my art and edit it and I won't mess up other elements within my overall layout.
So isolation mode is nice. If you've ever used Flash in the past, it's kind of that kind of technology implemented into the environment for Illustrator. Now on this design, I really like this character, but when I was working out detailing his wings on a white background, initially I was having some problems, I wasn't sure how to pull that off because light on light can kind of be difficult at times. Even in a very stylized design like this. So I wanted to figure out an easy way to handle the detailing on the wing.
So this shows all the basic shapes on the left that I created just to create the form and shape of the wing but moving forward and colorizing it, I had to use a few elements. And so if we look at the one on the right, you can see here, if I open up my gradients palette, you can see, let's go, you have to make sure you're on the fill color, you can see I have it gradiating from this blue into a white and if I click on the gradient tool, you can see I have an angle set.
So it's going off to an angle and I kind of match that angle with the movement of the wing itself. Now a nice thing is once I get one established, I can utilize that to create the other ones. So if I click this, you can see this graphic style is here, that's because I just literally drug it into here and dropped it. That way I can select my other shapes and apply the exact same style to them so I don't have to recreate the wheel. And if you think like that, it makes the process go a a lot faster.
And I like the way this was looking, but it still felt too flat, it needed a little more dimension. And so I'm gonna do a little more detailing like I did on the faces previously. So here's a couple sliver shapes. And all I'm doing here is simply selecting these shapes, then I'm gonna go up here and I'm gonna select a base color, in this case I'm gonna select this blue, get rid of the outline here, and we'll go ahead and select these sliver shapes here.
And I'm gonna make these the same color blue like this. But now I'm gonna use transparency and blend modes to really make the detailing work well. And that's, the combination of blend modes and transparency, or opacity that is, is gonna help you pull off a lot of seemingly complex detail but do it in a very simple way. So on this one I'm gonna go ahead and set this one to multiply, and then I don't want the value to be that strong, so we'll go to 40% like this, and you can see how you can see aspects of the underlying shapes showing through, and that's what we want.
Then I'm gonna select these. Once again, we'll go to Multiply and then we'll set these to a little fainter, 35. And I think that looks really great. So you can see how it goes from a very flat, unemotional graphic on the left and really makes it more dynamic with just some simple little detailing tricks shown on there. So let's go ahead and go back to our full illustration here. So I'm gonna turn on these layers, and you can see how I organized all the content on its own layer so I can easily access it, easily make any changes, or focus in on only the area I want to deal with.
So you could also, I should point out, as I showed you how to create the inner glow earlier, you can see such as in on this piece, this element, which is kind of like a shooting star or asteroid of sorts, if I go to the Appearance panel, you can see I have inner glow applied to this shape here. And any shape you have inner glow applied to, you can go to the Appearance panel and you can click off on the I and it turns that effect off. So this is the basic vector shape, but with the inner glow applied you can see how much cooler it works.
So inner glow is a really powerful way to do simple detailing. So definitely play around with it. I don't overuse it because I don't want it to be so rendered looking, but in this case, it really adds that nice little button up detail that makes those shapes work really well. So I now have all my base artwork completed. Even though I think it looks nice on a white background, there are several things I still want to do to it, and in the next movie, we'll move onto the detailing and finishing touches for this art print.
Thank you for watching DVG Lab, and until next time, never stop drawing.
Skill Level Intermediate
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