Join Von Glitschka for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating a high-contrast design, part of Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory.
- [Von] Welcome to Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory. In this movie, we're going to create a high contrast graphically styled illustration from inspiration to final art, so let's jump into it. Now, my inspiration for this project came from a program called Mystery Science Theater 3000. Now if you're not familiar with that, then go to Netflix and search for that and I think you're going to enjoy it.
It's a lot of fun. They basically do running commentary over a really bad movie. So, really cheesy, b-movies, and it's just fun, I enjoy it. It's kind of goofy. That's probably why I enjoy it. And as I was watching one of those one time, they were playing some old movie from the early 50s or whatever and this character popped up on screen and you go, oh, he's kind of cool. So I just took out my iPhone and just took a picture of the screen 'cause I like this character and I figured I could probably turn it into some cool artwork, and that's what we're going to do here.
So it all started with a cheesy movie, a cheesy photograph and I just simply took it into Photoshop. Now, there's a couple ways you can try to assist yourself in referencing an image like this. A dramatically lit image, I should point out. And you can posterize it in Photoshop, so here's the exact image posterized. And I've also, and the way I prefer doing it, is we're going to be deducing this basically.
Looking at this image and drawing from it and not replicating it exactly but using it to inspire how we form our shapes. So deducing form and shape from a more complex, in this case, a photograph. And so, I like to use levels instead of posterizing. So if I show you the original again, this is the original, kind of gray tone. I adjust the values to really knock out those dark areas so they become black. So it's just highlighting specific areas and then, the mouth was getting too dark.
So I just did a cheesy selection of this area just to get some detail in the mouth. Ultimately, I'm not really going to do much there anyways, it turns out, but I decided to give myself that possibility if you wanted to think of it that way. Now, this is going to guide my drawing efforts. So this is where drawing happens. I'll print this out and then I'll simply start drawing on top of it, in this case, with Vellum and a mechanical pencil, and I'm just looking at what's underneath and I'm not tracing it.
I'm just going, how would I simplify that down into the essence of a shape. I want this to kind of have a fierceness to it. So he has normal teeth, but I gave him fangs, you know. His beard is really scraggly but I made it more menacing by almost making it flame-like, in terms of the shapes. All these shapes kind of have that flame, kind of motif to it. And that's what I'm kind of drawing. And you can see how I'm just simplifying these shapes.
I'm also using a symmetric style here, so I'm only having to draw out half of it, and I'll end up flipping it and creating it. You can see on the right here. I was trying different things with the bottom area of his beard. That was the hardest part for me to figure out because there really is no definition since the image capture that I took, it kind of covers that but I still wasn't sure how to end that, and so I was experimenting on different overlays until I got what I thought would work well.
So, it all comes down to drawing. Drawing is design's best friend, especially if you're moving into an area where you're creating an illustrative design, you really need to work out your artwork and think it through before you jump on the computer, before you start building. Know those shapes are locked in, how you're going to form them and that's what I've done here, and I think it's going to work really well. So once again, we have our reference, and if I take that drawing that I drew based off of this reference, you can see how it aligns with the inspiration for our artwork.
But in this case, we're going to take this line work now, we'll go ahead and adjust this to 20%, lock the layer, and it's just simple vector building. So let's go ahead and zoom in on this. You can see this is just simple, a rough build of our shape. I put the anchor points where it's easy to discern, meaning anywhere in my drawing that comes to a point, gets an anchor point. Those are easy. And then, wherever, if you think through the clockwork method, if you watch my original course Drawing Vector Graphics is the name of it.
The first course I ever did. I have a clockwork methods video in there, and you can watch that, and it shows how to discern where to place your anchor points on a curved shape, in this case, six o'clock, three o'clock. So if you think like a clock, it'll help you discern where to place your anchor points to form the curves you needed. Once you get your rough build down like this, you can either use Illustrator's built in tool to distort paths, to work out the Bézier curves, or in my case, I prefer using the PathScribe tool right here, and it does the same thing.
It just gives you a little more control and you can go in on a shape like this, and just start moving your paths around. You can go in and grab a handle, adjust it. If you break a path you can fix it. That's one reason why I really like this plug-in. But you can see how easily it goes in order to form an order to shape your artwork to get the results you need to form the final shape, that once again, your underlying drawing is serving as kind of a road map for your vector building.
I'm not doing a lot of guesswork here. I'm just aligning it with what I've already determined in my drawing of how I want that shape to be. I'm just trying to pull it off now in a digital means via vector shapes, and it's a lot easier instead of noodling around for hours and trying to just do it on the fly, to kind of, really, think through what you need to do before you jump into Illustrator and try to do it. You're going to be more efficient with your time and your end results are going to be a lot more clarified and a lot more elegant in my opinion.
So this is the approach, I still think, I'm really picky when it comes to this stuff. So that's how I would approach a shape like this. I might go in, I usually pull stuff out and pull it back in to get it into the right position. But this is how I would form the shapes. Here's another example. We can zoom out a little bit here. I would do the same thing. All of the anchor points are in their correct locations. It doesn't have any of the paths. I'm just going to go in now and just select these paths and just start pulling 'em into place to create the final form.
Once again, I don't have to guess. I know what it should look like because I've drawn how it should look like. That's the key here. If you don't do that, then you really don't know what you're creating as you go about creating it and that's going to cause a lot of frustration and it's going to take you a lot longer. It's a lot easier to draw it out and figure it out in analog than it is to noodle around in Illustrator for a few hours. So, get in the habit of doing that, but make sure to check out my Drawing Vector Graphics course if you don't have the fundamentals of vector building down.
So once I've created all my artwork, this shows how it is, and I have an odd man out when it comes to symmetric here. This little tuft of hair isn't symmetric and that's okay. I'm going to select all the shapes that are, all these shapes, and I'll go ahead and clone these. Command c, command f. Then we'll select the reflect tool. I'll find a central anchor point. Make sure you have smart guidance turned on. Command u. Select a center anchor point and just reflect it, and this is how you can get all your art.
Now you see, if I zoom in the area with the hair, I'm going to have to make some edits here. And this is where I will create, what I call, a throwaway shape, and this shape is for no other reason than editing another shape. So I'll select these two and I'll trim that off and then on this one, I would go in here, pull this down, and I would just finesse this path to work as it aligns with the other shapes.
So that's the type of finessing I do. That still looks a little wonky. I would go in and work on this a little more. I probably, since it covers a larger area, I'd probably put one more anchor in there in order to control that Bézier curve more. Something like that looks a little better. So it's that kind of building that I'll do. Now with all of these selected, it's easy to select all the shapes and just use unite to fuse them all together and in this case, we can go black, we can get rid of the outline.
You can see how quickly. Now this artwork is intended for a dark background. So coloring it black isn't really working. So I want to show you the context in which we're going to colorize this now. This shows the proper context. It's a dark colored background with all these shapes I've created in white floating on top of it and all these are selectable. And this style works so well to apply different color themes to and that's all I'm going to do here is I'm going to select these shapes, and right now we have these red tonal family, so this will be the base color.
We'll select these shapes. It'll be a little darker as if it's going back into the space. Even this black, we don't want a black, we want a dark, warm black so we're going to fill it with that. And it might not be super obvious on screen, but if I select this color and we go over to our color palette here, make sure we're on fill, you can see it highlights it. If I double click notice how it has a lot of blue in it, but it has a lot magenta in this black so it's really a warm black and if you look at this file on your own monitor and download it, you're going to see that a lot clearer than you're probably seeing it in the video here.
And on the teeth, I don't want it so stark white, so what we're going to do is I'm going to fill it with this tint of red. So it still has that hue value that we want since it's red being surrounded everywhere, but you can see, if we go to the color, it's just a 15% of our base color red for that teeth and that's going to work well. Now there's one other thing we're going to do to this artwork to really push it over the top, it's looking really cool so far, is we've created, and we're going to zoom in on this, so you can see what this is all about, you can see we have all of these highlighting shapes that we created, once again, symmetric, and then I flipped it.
All of these are grouped together now so we're just going to go ahead and fuse 'em all together and before we do this, let's go ahead and fill this so you can see what these shapes look like, like this. We'll go ahead and unite 'em. And make sure under appearance will turn into the compound, F7, I have the keyboard shortcut setup. And now, with all those kind of fused together, I'm going to select the face that the applied to, and I'm going to clone it, command c, command f, and so we've just cloned that shape.
I can drag it over here. Will have that selected with the highlight selected, and now we're going to go intersects, so everywhere they overlap will create the new shape and on this one, I change it back to a compound and on this color, I want it to be this orange and you can see the really cool, kind of highlighting effect you get when you do this. Now this style is very, very flexible when it comes to coloring. Let's take another look at an example of taking the exact same artwork and just applying a different tonal family to it.
So, maybe this is the evil brother, the jolly green giant. And you're using all the hues of green to pull it off. It's going to work really effectively, but it's really easy to adapt this kind of tonal family to this kind of design so maybe on this one, we select this base color, and we go ahead and we're going to, I don't know, let's change the, oops, this is the stroke.
Make sure we're on fill. We'll go in here and we'll change this base color to a purple, and we'll change the darker base color to a darker purple. We're going to change this black to a really dark purplish black. The highlight's going to change to let's see, we'll do the base color, nope, like that. Ooo, that's looking really cool. And then on this one, since it's already a tint, all we have to do is select the base color and it will retain that tint.
So you can see how easily you can adjust these colors with this kind of design and get just really cool results. So it'll work in almost any color, just depends on context. In this case, my favorite coloring was blue, almost like the Beast if you're familiar with that comic book. And this style of approach for illustration works great for things like t-shirts. Since a t-shirt can be dark, it's going to work great in this context.
Here's another way you could use it. Maybe you did an energy drink. It could be the graphic on the can. So, a lot of different flexibilities for use and controlling color on a design like this. This type of design is just a lot of fun to create and it's a style that has a lot of diverse possibilities for use. Many different project types, which makes it a powerful way to engage an audience. So remember, if you have a question you'd like to see me address, in a DVG Lab movie, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to getting those. Thank you for watching DVG Lab and until next time, never stop drawing.
Skill Level Intermediate
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