Join Von Glitschka for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating with halftone shading, part of Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory.
- [Instructor] Welcome to Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory. When I create content for the DVG Lab, I usually pick a subject matter that I'm passionate about. I do this because it makes the whole creative process easier and far more enjoyable. To facilitate this movie, I'm focusing on my love of all things science fiction, from old monster movies to what some have called space opera, and everything in between. I love this genre, and for this movie, I want to create a simplified illustration of the actor, Peter Cushing.
Now, he's one of my favorite characters, not only when I was growing up, I used to watch the old monster movies with Dracula and Frankenstein, specifically, and those were great, but also some of my childhood memories are evolved around these characters from the science fiction movies that I really enjoyed growing up. So he's been one of my favorite characters for a very long time, and I decided it was worth doing. Now, whenever I approach a project like this, I try to get reference. So I want to look at a lot of different photographs of whoever I'm creating.
I'm not creating a photorealistic illustration, but you can derive characteristics from the real things. Even Disney's artists do this. If you ever have a chance, rent the Lion King and watch the special editions that come with that movie, and you're going to see them drawing from real references of lions even though the style they're doing that whole animation on doesn't have anything to do with realism. It's about pulling characteristics from real and capitalizing that within the specific style you're working in.
So that's why I'm looking at a lot of different images. And when I say that, it's easier to kind of define this. So we'll take another look at Peter Cushing here, and I'm going to grab the Brush tool here. Now, specifically, when I'm looking at him, I'm analyzing the structure of his face and the characteristics of his face, and the one thing that's really apparent to me is just how his cheek bones are very apparent, and it kind of creates this dynamic where these shapes are kind of coming down like this.
Another attribute of his is his eyebrows, and the angle of those eyebrows, and how those are looking. The pointed nature of, you know, his nose. The fact that, in all the pictures I've looked at, he has very subtle lips, very shallow lips, they're not thick and bold. And then, specifically, on this character, his hair is kind of bulbous on top and comes around and then gets narrower on the bottom.
And then it's about looking at details, such as the characteristics on his head, and then simplifying it in my mind's eye as I'm analyzing it. So, on his hair, how would I symbolize his hairline? Well, it might just be a simple curve, another curve, to this curve, like this, and back, and so I might simplify it like this. And that's all it takes to analyze and figure out how to do a caricature-type illustration like this. Now, it takes time to get good at this, but it's not hard, it just takes a lot of thinking and thinking through what's going to stereotypically represent what you're seeing on screen.
Now, this whole process for me started in the thumbnail sketch. I knew this was going to be symmetric, meaning everything on the left would reflect to the right, most of it would, I should say, not specifically the orb you see floating to the left there, the Death Star, but specifically his face and his body, all that will. So what this led to is me doing a refined sketch, and you can see that here. Once again, I place it into Illustrator, and this is going to be the roadmap for building my vector artwork. So I create all my base vector shapes.
Now, I don't create everything because I'm able to select those elements that are going to reflect like this, and we'll deselect the Death Star and the background. I don't even know what they call that under your nose, that little gutter thing. I'm sure there's a medical term for that. I don't know what it is, but we're not going to select that, or his chin shading because that's already kind of built to do that. But with these shapes selected, I can clone these, command C, command F, or in my case, I have the keyboard shortcut set up to do those commands for me by just hitting the F3 key, and then I can go to Reflect, like this, select a center orientation point.
Right now, we have Smart Objects turned on, so you'll want to make sure those are on when you're doing a reflection. Command U to turn those on, so when you go over an anchor point, it says you're right where this anchor point is, that's what I want, and then I will reflect those to the opposite side. So that's how you can get all your artwork with only having to draw half of it. So that's how I created all my base artwork on this one. Now, initially, when I started coloring my base artwork, this was the color palette I was focusing on.
He comes from science fiction and horror movies that are very kind of gothic in nature. His character is always very kind of gothic in the performances he's given, and so I initially thought, well, maybe if I keep this kind of gothic in terms of a limited color palette, not a whole lot of literal colors in it, and I started working on this. It was going okay, but then something was bugging me, and what was bugging me was his eyes. It just wasn't capturing that essence I wanted in his eyes, and so what I decided to do was to simply art direct myself.
I removed the eyes, and we're going to zoom in a little bit here on these eyes, and I printed it out, and I drew a new eye, and I like this eye a lot more. So, once again, I went back to analog to work through what was bugging me about this. I also figured out, when I was doing this, that I think, at some point, I'm going to add some nice little detailing as you can see here as well. But right now, we're focusing on the eyes. I build out those shapes, and then it allows me to build and add those new eyes in, as you can see here.
And I like these a lot more, but something was still bugging me about it. This is what you're going to run into when you do illustration. You really have to be your own worst critic to make sure that you're improving things as you're going along, and not just accepting it and keep moving forward, but if something doesn't feel right, then, more often than not, it isn't right. So pay attention to that. So we'll zoom back in on the eyes, and when I brought my daughter in, she works with me now, she went through art school and she's a very gifted illustrator herself, I brought her in, I said, "Savannah, what do you think of this? "Something about the eyes are bugging me." And she said, "No, the eyes are fine.
"It's his eyebrows you need to change. "They need to be more menacing." And she was right. And so I'm just going to turn on the layer of the received feedback, and you can see this is what it turned out to be, this is what it was. What it became, what it was, what it became. And I not only changed the eyebrows and the position of them and the styling of them, I changed the color. Savannah also said, "Don't make them black, "make them like a dark gray." And so I did, and I changed the shading to reinforce this even more, and also, notice the shadow under the nose.
I also changed that as well to improve and reinforce kind of that shape of his nose that I pointed out initially. And then, as I was looking at it, Savannah also commented on the tonal aspect. She said, "I know what you're trying to do, but "I think you should go more literal with it." And I was like, "Really? You think I should?" And she said, "Yeah." And so I decided to do that, and you know what? My daughter was right. She totally made the right call. This should be more literal in terms of the coloring.
So that's where I went in and I just started changing the coloring. I'm not going to do all of it here, I'm just going to do a few things. But we'll change the base colors, I'll select all these elements that make up his face, and that includes the side of his head up here, that includes his cheekbone areas, and we'll do the bottom one, this, and that, and whatever this is called, I don't know. Once again, I don't know what they call that, but we'll do that.
And now all of these are going to be colored a slightly darker hue. We're going to color these, actually, immediately, it's going to look kind of off, but we're going to color it this color. And you're going, "Whoa, that's way too dark." Well, it is. The only thing that's going to remain this dark is going to be the top of his lip. So I'll go ahead and deselect that. Everything else here, I'm going to go ahead and adjust the color hue on this so that all of these are like 30%, and we'll go like this, but they're a little too light now, so I'm going to go Multiply, and then we'll deselect, and you can see how that looks.
So that's looking really, really, really, really good. I like that a lot. And, on the ears, let's do the ears really quickly, and these are going to be a darker tonal shade since they're further back. Then we'll select this once again. We'll go ahead and use the same percentage here, but we're going to change the value to 40 so it's a little darker. And so this is how I'll go about coloring all the base art. Now, on this one, I didn't like how the uniform was getting lost on the background.
Actually, let's color these again. It's kind of annoying me, so we'll go ahead and color the neck, and then we'll color that over there. There, that looks better. We're going to select this, and instead of being a linear gradient, I'm going to make it a radial gradient. And we'll just do that. And I like that a lot more. It's actually more dramatic, so that's why I did this. And so this is the mentality and the methodology I'll use to create all the flat colors. Now, when it's all said and done, this is what all my flat colors look like, and I try to work all of this out.
Now, even though I'm saying flat colors, for instance, on his hair, if I select this and go to the gradient tool, you can see this is actually a gradient from a darker gray, to a mid gray, to a light gray, and that's just to, once again, add volume to his hair, but also just adds a little more dimension. Now, the one thing I want to show you, though, and is the focus of this movie, I wanted to handle the shading in a slightly different manner, and what I mean by different manner is I wanted to make it halftone shading.
Now, I'm going to zoom in quite a bit, and, thankfully, with CC version of Illustrator now, the zoom ceiling in Illustrator is 64,000, it's amazing. So you can zoom in, we're going to zoom in on this little swatch here, and all this is is a halftone I created with the Ellipse tool, just to create that. And then I have it set up on this rectangle, and I'm going to make a pattern swatch from this. And all this is is these halftone dots, just circles, basically.
Let's go to the Appearance panel, so we'll open that, you can see it's a compound shape. We'll just drag the Appearance panel right over here like this and put it into place. It's a compound, and you want to have it a compound. And then this shape, I'll just select these two and I'll go Intersect. And it creates a pattern. So anywhere it goes off on the right comes in on the left. Anywhere it goes off on the top comes in on the bottom. That's all this type of simple repeat pattern is. And for this one, we'll actually color it black and get rid of the outline.
And I'm going to go back to the Appearance panel, known as, it's a Group. I want to make sure this is a compound path still, so you can do that by going to Object, Compound Path, and Make, and now, once you have this, I can simply drag this over into Swatches palette, let go, and it immediately creates a pattern swatch. So I can select anything here, and I can fill it. Oops, I filled the outline. You can do that, I never do that, but you can do that, or fill it like you should, and that looks really wonky, so let's zoom in so you can see what it's actually doing.
So all it's doing now is it's filling. And what I've done is I've created all kinds of color halftone fills, like this, here's a shading color, a darker shading color, here's a gray, here's another shade of gray, here's a dark blue, here's a light blue. So that's all I've done, is I've created these halftone shaders. Now, another thing I should point out is the size you make this, let's go ahead and do this and then we'll zoom in on this, I specifically made this halftone, let's deselect this so you can see it, I specifically made this halftone pattern this size for this specific size of my artwork because I didn't want this, for example, if we scale this up, this big because it would be too big for the area and size of this illustration.
So you'll want to make your pattern, I suggest creating it at the very 100% size you need it and not use the Scale tool, because what you can do is you can... We'll get rid of that little bit. You can take a pattern here, and we'll zoom in on this so you can see what's going on, is you can take a pattern and you can go to the Scale feature and open it, and make sure you have Transform Objects off, and it will focus on just the pattern by clicking on Transform Patterns.
Right now it's set to reduce. But we could go 250, for example, and you can see how it blows the pattern up. We can even do, let's do 400, and it'll blow the pattern up even more. So you can handle size in that way if you want to, but, initially, I'd like to just size it at 100% of what I need it for. And, by the way, once you have a pattern fill at a size you've created, if you fill it with another pattern, it fills it at that same size. So that is kind of a nice feature if you want to go that way.
But as you can see, this will be too big for this. It doesn't give me the effect I want. So now I want to walk you through the specific effect I'm trying to accomplish with this illustration with this type of approach with shading, and the first thing that we're going to focus on is we'll do his cheek on this side here. And what I want to do is I want to make a copy of this shape. So I'm going to go command C, command F, or in my case, I have Clone set up to run those commands by hitting the F3 key with keyboard shortcuts.
I'm just going to drag this over to the left here, and this is just our base shading like this. That's fine, that's what I want, but what I'm going to do now is I'm going to go ahead and I'm going to create a nice linear shading with this, and when I mean linear, I'm going to go to the Gradients tool here and I'm going to go Linear and select that. We don't want it gray, so I'll remove one of those colors. We want to actually blend it from this light skin tone to this darker skin tone.
We'll put it on that side, like this. And right now we have our Multiply set. We'll go to Normal just initially, and we'll put our Opacity at 100. We'll switch back to Gradient. Where it blends out, this is the base color of our skin tone here, I want this gradient to blend from a dark to zero alpha, so I'm going to select zero, and you can see how it affects it over here. I'm going to position this gradient specifically the way I want it to.
Right now, it's going to be an underlying detail, and that's kind of the effect I'm going for. Right like that. Maybe even more. So let's move this over, and that looks good, just like that. So I'm going to select this, and I'm just going to make sure Smart Guides is on so it snaps into location. And just to make sure it's in the right area, I'm going to command exit, select this shape and go command B to paste behind, and keeping the shape selected, I'm now going to go back to my transparency and I'm going to select Multiply, and then I'm going to select a value, I don't want it at 100, so we'll do, let's try at 40.
That looks good. Now, on the shape above it, I'm going to remove the fill of that, make sure it's on normal for transparency, and make sure the value's 100%, and I'm going to make sure that I'm on Fill, and now what I'm going to do is I'm going to fill that with one of my pattern halftones, specifically this one right here. So we'll fill that, and you can see how it creates this nice pattern fill of that halftone, and this is how I'm going to approach all my halftones.
Now, when you zoom out on screen, you kind of get this weird moray action. That should be expected, but if you zoom in, you can see how cool this effect is looking. Now, if I wanted to adjust this, for instance, I'll just cut that one and paste it behind the gradient, and you can keep this gradient on top if you wanted to. Once again, it's that gradient, right now it's 45, you could even adjust this more if you wanted to make him look more gaunt, for example. So the hierarchy is up to you, how you would prefer to work.
We're going to do another one here. So I'm going to zoom in on his forehead here, and we'll take this shape and we'll go ahead and clone that, command C, command F, I'm going to bring it over, and to speed things up, we can sample, with the Eyedropper tool, this other gradient we created, and you can see how it immediately sets up this gradient, then that way, we don't have to even mess with the gradient controls, we can just select the Gradient tool, and then I can immediately start working on how I want this gradient to work with this underlying shape.
I think I want it to go right like... No, the opposite way. Yeah, just like that. And I think that looks good. And then I'll bring this over. Command X, and then command B to paste behind. Then I'll select this one, and, once again, make sure Multiply is normal, make sure the value is 100, and then I'm going to fill this with the same halftone to get that same effect and look that I have going elsewhere.
Actually, once again, it looks better when you're zoomed in. It gets a little hinky on screen. Now, other things, I don't worry about doing the two shapes, and, actually, I should point out that I could have made all these attributes on one shape using the Appearance panel because you could go there and you could add a new fill and I could make it the pattern, but in this case, I didn't. So if you really want to control it more and make it easier, you can use that methodology. On this one, I'll select this shape and just fill it with this pattern, and, once again, this is set for that.
So we'll go ahead and, I think I want this at 40%, something like that. That looks pretty good. And I'll just do that on some of these other shapes, like this, and like under his upper lip, and you can see how these are affected and how this style is pulled off using this approach. Actually, on these, the values should be more than that, it should be, that's right, 100.
That looks pretty good, I think. So I'll take all the various shading areas, and using a combination of gradients and the halftone, that's how I'll pull off all the shading. The other aspect is I'll also do other types of shading. So if I zoom out a little bit on this, one more, then I'll have areas like this on the face, which are made for the highlights. So I'll get rid of this outline and I'll fill it with another halftone, and then, on this, I'll adjust the value to like 75%, and this creates all the highlights on this artwork.
So I'm also doing the highlights as well in order to facilitate that. Now, one thing I should point out is that we're going to now do what I call halftone drawing, and what I mean by that is we're going to turn on our refined sketch that we've brought to the top here, and the nice thing about having a pattern like this is we're going to kind of reset this shape, and then I'm going to get rid of the outline, and I'm going to fill it with this color, and then we're going to go ahead and fill it with this kind of light blue halftone.
So, once again, you can see it's the halftone here. If I zoom in, you can see it's a halftone here. Now, once you've created any kind of fill with this halftone pattern, any pattern for that matter, you can drag it into your Graphic Styles, so we'll do that here, you can see it show up here, and now here's the cool part. Make sure you're on the right layer, so we're going to be on this Drawing Halftones layer, and we're going to use, we'll zoom in, we're going to use our sketch to guide us to create this kind of wavy background here.
And so, on this layer, we're going to go to the Blob Brush right here, and we're going to double-click into here, make sure this is large enough, we'll go to like, I dunno, let's try 24. You want to make sure it's on Accurate, and you make sure it's on Keep Selected, and click OK. So we now have our pattern loaded. We're on the right layer, and we're going to start painting with this Blob Brush just like this.
And what we're doing is we're painting this pattern as you can see here. And if I zoom in on this, you can see what it does, it just paints that pattern. Now, notice it puts quite a bit of anchor points on this. So after I'll create a shape like this, I'll go to Object, Path, I'll go to Simplify, but I don't want to go too far with Simplify because if I do, it's going to do this, it's going to ruin your shape. So we don't want it to do this. So I'm going to just simplify it just barely.
98%, we'll see what that looks like. Maybe a little more. And I just do this until it doesn't destroy the shape, but it gets me close to... Okay, that looks really good, actually, so 92%, and it simplifies the shape, but the reason I'm doing this is because I want to control the flow of these curves a little more as well, and if you really wanted to do that, you would have to grab an anchor point and move it over then adjust your Bezier curve to get it like that. We're going to undo that.
I'm going to show you a really, really cool feature in a VectorScribe plugin, and it's this one. This is called Move Anchor Point tool. So I can select an anchor point, select this tool, and then watch this, I can move that anchor point along the path, and see that magenta dot it creates? Those are what are called the tangents on this curve, and you can lock it to that, and so I'll grab another one, then I'll move it to a tangent here, and this is a really easy way to improve the editability of a curve like this.
There's just no way to do this in Illustrator, and what this does is it puts all these curves on tangents, so now I can easily adjust my curve however I want to make it more fluid, make it more elegant. And if I have an anchor point I don't need, like this one, I can go to the PathScribe panel that's part of this plugin and I can go to Smart Remove, and I can click on it, and it now removes that anchor point without destroying my shape. So that's why I use plugins, it makes the process faster.
But I'll use this Blob Brush drawing halftones methodology, I'll go back to the Blob Brush and I'll keep drawing out all of my forms here like this. Oh, well, you can draw with the Blob Brush and you can then go to your pattern fill and fill it with a pattern, you could do it that way to, so either way works. But this is the methodology I'm going to use to create all the space atmosphere within my illustration.
So we're going to go ahead and turn off these layers, and I'm going to show you exactly what that came off like in terms of all of the halftones in place, and that's what this shows, is you can see all the halftones in place, how they're working. Not only that, I've gone in based off of that art direction with myself earlier and added in these nice little details. This is what I call deep shadows, and it's to pull off the drop shadow of the nose, reinforce some of the elements around the eyes, call out some of the detail on the forehead, and you can see how I've added detail in the ears and reinforced kind of his gaunt jawline, and just added some other detail around this character.
But notice the background. Notice the background of those curvy lines and the halftone fills. It just looks really cool, it worked out really well. I created all of these with the Blob Brush. It amazes me. I didn't realize it was going to be as simple as it was using the Blob Brush, but combining that with the plugin ideas really made the process go faster. It was kind of a nice surprise for me. I have other elements that I shaded with the halftones, such as the Death Star, such as areas on his uniform, and so on and so forth.
So you can check that out. Now, this illustration is almost done. One last thing I want to add, and that is a starry pattern. It's in space, it needs stars, right? So once again, like the other patterns I showed, I have this pattern, let's go ahead and turn these off so we're not selecting them, is I have this pattern and I have the bounding box. Whatever goes off on the top comes in on the bottom, whatever goes off on the right comes in on the left, vice versa. And I've created this pattern swatch here.
Once again, this is larger than what I needed. So I'm just going to select this pattern swatch, and on this, I didn't just color everything white, I have transparencies set for white here, this is 40%. I have a blue color here, this is set for 40%, and so on and so forth. This is a white one that's set for 70%, and various scales, so that's going to give a nice randomness to this pattern. So I'm going to select this, I'm going to go to Scale, and on this one, I want to just scale it at 50%, like that, and then we'll go to our Swatches palette, and I'm just going to simply drag this over into the Swatches palette and it creates the starry pattern we need.
We can go back now on these layers for our final art. I have a layer called Starry Pattern. So I'm going to go ahead and zoom in on this right here, and I'll select that shape, and I'm going to fill it with our starry pattern, and you can see what that looks like once it's in place. It works really, really well throughout the illustration, and I really am happy with how this illustration came out. I like the fact that the halftones really add a lot of characteristic to the final illustration.
It's just not nearly vector art. It really adds a nice aesthetic to the overall piece. Now, this method of drawing out halftone patterns or any pattern for that matter, mind you, since you could apply any pattern to this methodology, was something I stumbled upon while sharing ideas with a design friend of mine. I love the results and I plan to use this same approach more in the future. There is no better way to improve your artistic skills than to pursue personal art projects like this for no other reason than to create.
When you've pursued those ideas you're most passionate about, you're naturally going to produce your best work, and that can only help you, creatively speaking. Thank you for watching DVG Lab, and remember, may the force be with you and never stop drawing.
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.