Learn how to create a graphic design for a greeting card, from sketch to final production art.
(logo whooshes) - Welcome to Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory. I was asked by a paper company to create a greeting card design. So in this movie, I want to take you through the process from initial sketch, building out the vector artwork, and specking color, and setting up the artwork to work well for the type of specialty printing we're going to be using. So this is where it started.
This was my rough sketch just using a marker. This was really small. This was about maybe two inches wide, so it's actually showing a lot larger on your screen. But this is what I initially drew out. Now, when I come up with an idea, I'll think about it for awhile and I do a lot of my processing, in terms of aesthetic, just in my head. Just thinking about it. What would work well? In this case I wanted to do a Christmas theme, partridge in a pear tree.
And I wanted it to be stylized in a way that it could be used in a lot of different ways. Yes, greeting cards being the primary way, but this could work well for other things, as well. They could be licensed artwork, they could be put on gift bags, or maybe it's on a t-shirt. I think it could work in a lot of different contexts in terms of its final use. But for this case, I'm creating it for a greeting card. This is where it started with my rough sketch. But I hadn't thought about a partridge for a long time.
In terms of the bird itself. So always looking at reference no matter what style you are working in, is going to kind of give you more information you can creatively and artistically use. You still have that license as a creative, to use information or just ignore it and play with it creatively. So I looked at the real. Here's what a partridge actually looks like. And if you notice, it doesn't have a little feather dangling off the top of his head.
And I'm going, that's interesting, 'cause I've seen other artwork of partridges and a pear tree. And partridges in general, and quails, and they have those little things on their head. And then, that's when I realized that I didn't know something, and that is a partridge and quail are both pheasants. So they're all the same type of bird, just a slight variation. And so, that's where the creative license has been done over time. Where artists when they, like I grew up watching a TV show called the Partridge Family.
And all of those stylized partridge birds had the little feather on the head. So I kind of gravitated towards that and stuck with it. And so, even though it might technically, from an animal point of view, not be completely accurate, artistically, I just like it. So that's why I'm adding it. So this is me cleaning up my initial sketch a little bit. And I scanned this into Photoshop and cleaned it up. So, if we compare what I had, where I cleaned it up. So you see I adjusted some of the branches to make the composition balance better.
And kind of restyled the pear shape a little bit to look more like a pear. And honestly, put in the new bird. Now, I'm always kind of takin' it from one stage to the next stage. And this is where drawing is very progressive, you should always look to improve at every stage of your drawing. At every stage of your building. And scrutinize yourself. Now, as I was looking at this, I'm going, you know, I need to redraw this again. I don't want to build from this, it's too rough still.
So this is where I printed it out and then using vellum and I like to use a mechanical pencil, I draw it out more precisely. I also add some other details in, like details on some of the leaves, to add a little more interest to everything. And this is what is seen here. So I really figured it out, specifically, so that when I move to vector form, when I move to Illustrator, I have my sketch placed and it becomes a roadmap for vector building. I don't have to overthink, "How's this really shaped?" I know what the shape is, 'cause I've already thought through it in the drawing stage.
That makes the building very efficient. So here's some of the initial shape building that I'm going to do there. We're going to zoom in to this bird. And, like, to create the top of the head, I'll start with elliptical shapes. We'll even zoom in even further. But this is where I'll take a shape like this and I'll grab an anchor point and I'll move it to where it needs to be. And then I'll just adjust this curve on this one to align with my underlying drawing. Kind of like that.
So I don't try to build the shape just with the pen tool. Sometimes it's easier just taking elliptical shapes like this, adjusting one of the anchor points, and then using Pathfinder. Just remove from shape to create what I need. And then on this one, I can go ahead and take the top of the head here, and clone this. Command C, command F. And take the top head and I'm just going to, basically, lop that off with Pathfinder to create the shape I need.
Most of the shapes we have here are going to work, but the bottom part of the head is overlapping this. So I want to take this shape and I'll go ahead and clone it. Command C, command F. Let's fill it so you can see what I'm doin'. So it's sittin' on top. I'm going to select the shape and I'm just going to trim off the bottom there just to create clean artwork. I'm going to take this shape and I'm going to clone this. Command C, command F. We'll fill it so you can see what I'm doing. And I'm going to take this shape and clone it.
Command C, command F. Make sure the yellow is on top so we'll move that back on top. We'll select this and we'll punch this out. Let's go ahead and zoom out a little bit. So you can see all I've done is, I wanted to make this a separate piece here. And then, on the back with this piece we'll intersect it. And I've just broken off each piece of this. I'll continue to build. And I should point out, there's other build methods I use when I'm creating in Illustrator.
If you go over here we can select the ellipse tool. Close this and we can create an ellipse. I'm kind of showin' you how you do it raw inside Illustrator. I'd probably select this anchor point, snap it to this one down here. Go over to rotate. Select this anchor point and then kind of rotate it to figure out this curve, of the detail of the wing that I want. Like this. And then, I'd have to finesse it some more.
That can take a lot of time. And it's not very efficient. And I found a better way to do that. And even though it's not out of Illustrator out of the box, it saves me so much time. It's well worth the $10, the plug-in costs. By the way, if you email me, anybody can email me at [email protected], I'll give you a code and it'll give you this plug-in for free. You enter the code and it'll take that $10 off and it's an Astute Graphics plug-in called Subscribe.
And the reason why I use it is it has this tool, which is called Circle by 2 or 3 points. Kind of a long name. We'll select over this anchor point. Click once, select over here. Click and drag. And you can see how you can easily create a shape like that. I'll select this back part of the wing. And I'll clone it. Command C, command F. Select the shape we just created. Intersect it and I'm done. That's why I use the plug-in. So much faster. Just much more efficient with my time.
Now if we scroll over here, I'd stylize this pear, to be honest with you, without actually looking at a pear. Not really paying attention to what the inside looks like. I think this looks cool, but then I realized, I better go look at a pear. Yes, I got the shape right. That's what a pear looks like. But on the inside, actually looks like this. Doesn't have three seeds. There's like two seeds, you usually see. And so, I decided to restylize it.
So in my final base vector art, this is how I stylized it. And I actually like this a lot better, because we can colorize both sides. So I just wanted to point that out. I'm always trying to improve my art as I'm going along, making changes, as I go. Just scrutinizing myself. And sometimes I'll set it aside, come back later, and look at it again to see if I need to change anything more. So this is all my base vector artwork. But we need to clean it up.
And this is the hard part to explain because it's kind of nitty gritty. You have to pay attention to details. It doesn't go distinctly fast. But to do it really well, you have to take the time to do it. And that is to make clean vector art. So, I decide just to simplify the explanation of this by colorizing it differently. So all the colors you see here that are the aqua colors, these are already built out clean. Built out clean meaning, on my stems, if you look at this stem, I pull it off, you see it's the entire shape.
It has this line at the bottom. Put it back. Well, that line at the bottom overlaps with this part of this stem that it's connected to. If I tried to expand these, which I'm going to once I determine the weight of my stroke, it's going to add a lot of anchor points and just cause a lot of hassle. So it's easier to create cleanly. Here's another example. We don't want this inner part of the leaf showing up on the inside of the stem. So this is where you can take two shapes like this, and we'll go ahead and zoom in here, like this.
And we'll use the shape building tool. Yes, I know about it. And we'll isolate this path. And I'm just going to hold the Option key down, hover over it. You can see minus meaning remove it. Yes, remove it. Click and it will remove it. So you can use that tool to speed up some of the building. Unfortunately, when it comes to something like this, if you try to use that tool to just get rid of this segment, on one of 'em, it'll actually do it on both of 'em. So if you go like this and you go, yeah, remove it, well, that's not really what I want.
So it doesn't work well. If you select one and then you use this and you isolate one, you can remove it that way. And so, that will speed up the process. Doing it like this. If we select this, and we'll isolate this path, then remove it and that's not working. Well, the shape building tool's okay for some things. I tend to do it the old fashioned way where I just simply go to the scissors tool, hover over the anchor point I want to cut at, click.
Hover over the next one, click. Just select the path and get rid of 'em. That's, I found, to be the easiest way. And then, once I have all of these like this, now we need to determine the weight. But I'll go through on everything like this and I'll do that. So if I move these around, you can see how all these have been cleaned up and even this right here isn't a shape it's just one stroke. And I've done that over here. So I do that to clean up my art to get it ready for production.
So we're going to jump to the next stage here and this is the stroke. So we'll select everything and we'll go to stroke. Right now it's .5, so we want to make it 1.5. Like this. And we'll keep round on. And that way it doesn't come to an extreme point. We don't really want it to come to an extreme point. We want that nice subtle rounding where it comes to a point. It looks more elegant. So, that's where I'll determine this is the size of the weight of the stroke.
Now, everything you see on screen here is actually going to end up being a gold color. It's going to become golden because it's going to be foil stamped gold. So that's why I need this to be absolutely clean. Absolutely precise. I will take elements of this. Like let's just select these, and I'll go to Object, now that I have the weight established. And I'll go Outline Stroke. So let's zoom in and compare. So all I've done is I've turn these into shapes.
If I go to Keyline view, you can see these are still strokes, over here. If I select that. Where as this, is now shapes. Visually, in preview mode, they look the same. But technically, they're two different types of vector art. And we want to turn everything to shapes so I'm going to go ahead and click on this next layer here. And this is all being prepared, once again, it's all based off that clean art we created. And I just started fusing all of these shapes together.
So I'll select everything here, and I can just simply go down to Unite and fuse everything together. If I go to the Appearance, you can see that it's a group. And so, if I zoom in on an area here, you can see all of this. Oops, I moved it. Let's move that back. If I change this to the color we're going to end up changing it to, to represent the gold foil, this is the color it's going to be. But now everything is simply shapes.
No strokes. And that's what we want. That's going to help the production of this. And now, we need to separate everything. So if I go to Object and I go to Compound, and I go to Release, like this, you might have to Ungroup it as well. And I select everything that's the branches, and the leaves, and we're going to color this black. You can see we have little islands of gold sitting on the black background. This is what you need to do, what we're going to do next.
Now, you have to keep in mind, you're going to have areas, like the seeds on the pears, that you're going to have to go back and bring those to front. Punch 'em through those shapes to set up the art correctly. And that just takes time but it's not hard. It's just something you're going to have to focus on to do well. So, we're going to move to the next phase. And the next phase is simply the background color. All those interior shapes we've just changed them to white. And now, on the gold foil, turn that layer on.
Right now we have this set to white. This, once again, is going to be gold. Go ahead and lock that like this. So all these shapes in here, are going to end up being colors. So we're going to turn on a tone of family here, and we're going to colorize this. And we've set up a limited color pallette. This is being offset printed and it's actually being printed on uncoated stock. So, I'm kind of keeping that in mind even though we're not selecting the exact colors, at this point. And I'm going to go ahead and color this one a darker orange.
This one will be kind of a brighter orange. We'll go ahead and color this the darker green. The opposing side, the lighter green. This will become the darker teal. And then the opposing side on some of the leaves, will be a lighter teal. This is where the nice two-sided aspect is going to work well here. So we'll make one side a lighter hue of the pear color and the other a darker hue.
So I think that looks good. We'll do the bird next but one thing we want to make sure of is here on the inside, this is where we could get rid of those colors because we've already punched through to the background so we don't need 'em. So we'll do that. Now we're going to focus on the bird. 'Cause this is really where your eye looks at everything in general and then refocuses on the bird. So we want to colorize this bird to give it the attention it deserves.
So this will be this kind of color here. We're going to do purple on the top here. And then his eye, once again, because it punches through to the background anyway, we don't need that. And so, I think this is looking really nice. I think this is looking really good. And it was at this point I decided, you know, we need to put in some texturing. I love textures. So I'm going to take this bitmap TIFF which was created with the old toothbrush flicking ink on paper.
We're going to select this and this background texture, we're going to colorize it, white. And then, I don't want the value 100%. I want it to be subtle. So we'll make that blue, kind of like that. I mean, 20% of the white, not blue. And that just adds some nice artifcating into the background. And the other thing I decided is even though we're using a gold foil, you can still use gold in a unique way.
So we're going to take another texture, which is just little flecks. And so, I want little flecks of gold foil to kind of cascade over everything. So, we're going to select that. Color that gold. And that is going to look good. Now this is when I set a project aside and I come back to it later. And I'm looking at it and I'm going, you know what? I think I know what else is going to work good for this. So we're going to move to Photoshop and I'm going to show you how I create it really quick. Then we'll button up this project and call it good.
So we're in Photoshop and we have the document set up to the size of the bleed of the final art you saw in Illustrator. I have an FPO of where we brought this artwork to, at this point. And that's just placed in to guide my efforts. Because we're going to draw a vignette. I just think a vignette is going to work really great. And we're going to use a specific brush. And this comes with the exercise files. And this is the brush right here. It's called Dark Scatter. This first one right here. This is the one we're going to use.
So we'll go ahead and close that. And we're going to go to the Paintbrush tool, right here. And you can see that brush is showing here. We're going to have black as our color. Cause we're creating an asset we're going to save out as a TIFF image and then place into our Illustrator file. So all I'm going to do with this Scatter brush is I'm just going to paint the background. Kind of like this. And actually, you know, you can adjust the size. Maybe having it go up a little bit would look better.
So we'll try 600. And Make sure I'm on the right brush. Maybe I'm not on the right brush. I picked the wrong brush. We want to make sure we're on the Scatter brush. I had the wrong brush selected. Okay, there we go. And then, on the size, we'll go ahead and punch in, I don't know, we'll do 575. See how that works.
And, that looks a little better. And if you don't like it, just delete it and try something else. And it's easier sometimes, to zoom out so you have more room to move around. Now, I'm doing this with my mouse. A lot easier if you do it with a Wacom tablet, I should point out. I'm going to pump this up to bigger. I want that to be more grainy looking. Not so finite. That looks good. So we'll do this.
That looks pretty good. I even think, yes, I'm being picky with this. But I think it'd even be better larger. Some people will try to figure out everything beforehand. I like, kind of, exploring because this is how I work. I don't get it right the first time. So, let's get crazy, we'll make it really big. There you go, that looks even better. And I don't want this to distract from the artwork. And it's not going to remain black, obviously, it's going to, well, it's going to be black, it's just going to be used in a very subtle way.
So, actually, I think that represents what I was trying to achieve really well. So using a brush like this, it's just easier to do it in Photoshop, save it out as an asset. So ultimately, we're going to take our final vignette and we're going to export this. And all I'm going to do is save this out. So if I wanted to save this out, I'd first have to go to grayscale. And we go merge. Like this. Then I'd have to go to bitmap.
Like this. And you go, yes, okay. 450's fine. 50% threshold. Okay. And this is what you end up with. A TIFF image. So we're going to switch back to Illustrator. I'm going to show you how I put this to use. We're back in Illustrator so we're going to put the nice brushed edge in to place. So I'm going to turn that on. You can see how it bleeds off the edge where we want it to. And I have a mass set up for it. But first we want to select this TIFF image and we want to go to multiply because we want to multiply with the colors that are underneath it.
In this case, it's under the foil. You don't want to have it on top of the foil. Because the foil will be the last thing printed when these cards are produced. So what we're going to do now, is we're going to select a value. We don't want 100%. We want 20%. And I think that looks really good. We'll go ahead and select the mask. Mask it into place. And you can see that really adds a lot of drama to the overall piece. Focusing it, kind of, composing the whole composition nicely and framing it.
So, I think that works really well. So, I love how this turned out. But my final production artwork. This was my build file of sorts. This shows you how I set up the final artwork. It's going to be on the cover so I have it set up on the cover. And then the paper company's going to print their information. But you can see on my artwork, I've specked out Pantone colors here. So if I click into this blue for example, it's Pantone P 102-8 U. U for uncoated.
This is all on uncoated paper. The foil is going to look great when it prints on top. So I have it separated out, so that the printer can specify the exact foil that it needs to be. This is going to work great. It's going to be a beautiful card when it's all done. I might turn it into other products, as well. It's been about eight years since I used foil stamping in a design. I used to work for Upper Deck Sports Cards and we did all kinds of specialty printing. With foils, fifths color spots.
We ran CMYK. We used spot varnishes, dye cuts, laser cuts, holographic foil. You name it. It was a lot of fun, but I learned a lot on that job, as well. So I look forward to seeing this design printed on high quality, uncoated stock, which always looks really sophisticated when done well. If you have a questions for DVG Lab, send it to [email protected] I hope you enjoyed this and thank you for watching DVG lab. Until next time, never stop drawing.
Note: Because this is an ongoing series, viewers will not receive a certificate of completion.
Skill Level Intermediate
Q: Why can't I earn a Certificate of Completion for this course?
A: We publish a new tutorial or tutorials for this course on a regular basis. We are unable to offer a Certificate of Completion because it is an ever-evolving course that is not designed to be completed. Check back often for new movies.