Skill Level Intermediate
(electronic whooshing) (gears clicking) - [Instructor] Welcome to Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory. I run my own design studio, but I always try to leave room for personal art projects for no other reason than to just have some fun. My workspace has a lot of sketches, taped up around my monitor or on my bookshelf, that capture ideas I wanna pursue when time permits. And for the last year or so, I've been wanting to create artwork inspired by one of my favorite movies, The Big Lebowski.
What you see in front of you here is Jeff Bridges, the actor who was in that movie, The Big Lebowski, and he played a character called The Dude. And The Dude is what is the inspiration behind the design we're gonna be creating today, and I'll show you how I go about pulling off this specific styled illustration. It starts with reference, so we're inside Photoshop right now. And this isn't high-grade Photoshop work, meaning this is simply just a screen-grab from the movie of a certain scene that I wanted to encapsulate in the design I'm gonna create because I thought it was funny and it would work well.
And you can see the source image here. I make a copy of that source image, and then I usually start by going to, make sure we're on the right layer there, go into Adjustments. I usually go to Levels, and this is where I'll blow out certain detail. And what I do is I usually keep making a copy. So on this one, I'm gonna focus on the detail of the hair, the midtones. I'm gonna lighten this up, just so we can see them a little more.
Then I'm gonna pull the black, just to get those midtone values. That looks about right, and I'll go OK. And it's just so I can focus on different areas so I can cobble together or kinda piece together, Frankenstein, if you will, a good reference. So I'll do that, I'll select that, and I'll go Command + J. That will isolate that selection on its own layer now. I'm gonna open up this layer, which is a folder. And you can see, if I drag this hair to the top here, you can see now, I have the hair detail that was missing there, and it changes it from the big void of black to some detail there.
And I might even go in on this after I look at it and go ahead and blow it out even more like this, just to get the contrast a little better like that. That probably works a little better. But this is how I'll cobble together an image like this. And once again, this isn't pristine Photoshop work here. This is just give me a rough basis to draw from. It's not something I'm gonna trace specifically, in terms of exact shape and form. It's to guide my proportions and to allude to what needs to go in this area, like where the eyes are, the proportion of the nose, the mustache, kinda guide my general idea of the hair, even though I'm gonna take a lot of liberty with that in the drawn stage.
So I just wanted to show this because I do this at times, not for every type of project, but for this specific style I do because it just works well. But you don't have to have pristine reference material to do so. So we're gonna switch to Illustrator now and kinda flesh this design out, go through all the various stages that I go through to pull it off. So let's go ahead and switch to Illustrator. So we're in Illustrator now, and you can see how I've taken that reference I kinda cobbled together in Photoshop, I've printed it out, and I've started to draw on top of it.
I like to use a vellum-type tracing paper because I can erase on it a lot, and it won't rip. And that's what I use here to work out my base art, my line work that's gonna guide my building efforts when I move to vector now and start fleshing it out. And I use that underlying image that I created in Photoshop to kinda guide my drawing efforts. Once again, the top of his eyebrow here, on the right eye, it's not shaped like this. You actually don't see a lot of it, like in this part over here.
But I use it to guide the various location, which is gonna be right here. And I use it to just help me figure out, okay, how does it curve up and around? And then I take artistic license, and I allude to the fact that it's hair by making it hairy-looking, even though it doesn't look anything like that if you look at the photograph. But it encapsulates the idea of it being an eyebrow because of its location. I simplify the shading around the eye, and I simplify that down into shape and form.
I take the shadow underneath the eye, the darkest part, that is, and create this shape here. So we're really stylizing a form here, specifically the darkest elements on the face, the pupil, the shadow under the eye, the hair itself, the deepest areas of the shadows on the eyes. And they look a little strange, just as floating shapes. But as we compose the various aspects of this design, they're all gonna come together and form it really well. So all of these things are the decisions I make in the drawing stage based off of the reference, and it all comes down to trying something.
I've tried drawing certain things on this composition in several different ways, only to discover the one way that I thought it works best. So it's kind of exploratory nature when you're drawing sometimes, and that's fine. Draw it, if you don't like it, erase it, try drawing it in a different way. Or put another sheet of vellum on top of it, and see if you tried it in a different way, would that improve that shape? I do that a lot. That's usually the way I make revisions, is I draw on top of somethin' else I've already drawn.
When it's all said and done, you end up with a nice, refined drawing like this, and this is gonna serve as a roadmap to now build your vector art. I don't have to guess where to place my vectors. I use this to guide how I'm gonna place my vectors. So if we go into that same area, you can see my building is based directly off of my drawing. So I'm not making any guessworks there. I use simple shapes when I can, such as circles for the eyes. That way, I can take a shape that I created for the shading, for example, I can clone this, Command + C, Command + F, select this eyeball shape, intersect it with Pathfinder.
Select this now intersected shape, make a clone of that, Command + C, Command + F, with the inside of the eye, intersect that, and then the highlight is just simply a little elliptical shape sittin' on top. And you can see, I have everything now needed to form my final art. But creating like this isn't hard. Anywhere in a drawing, anywhere in forming a shape that comes to a point, those are easy to discern. So example, if I grab the Pen tool, if I need to build this detail on the hair, anywhere it comes to a point gets a point.
So I know a point will go there. I know a point will go here, will go here, here, here, this one, put one here, here, here, right about there, and then we'll close it like that. I'm gonna go ahead and go to Strokes. I'm gonna minimize this, so we can see the drawing a little better. And then this is where we now need to start editing the curves and using the Bezier controls within Illustrator.
You can do that by going to the Anchor Point tool in Illustrator. If you prefer using Illustrator out of the box without any plugins, you can use this to just grab a path, which will give access to the handle. So if I grab this, I can bend this into shape. And this, this works relatively well. Even though I don't use this, I rarely use it, that is, because I prefer a plugin I use, called VectorScribe. And it actually existed before this feature in Illustrator.
And Illustrator, to be honest, actually kinda borrowed the feature, made it their own. And I happen to like the plugin better, and this is a palette that'll pop up with all these other cool controls, which I'm not even gonna go over it this time, but a lot of control with this tool. The reason why I like it, if double-click on the tool itself, it gives you the capability to customize this tool to be as sensitive as you prefer it to be. So if you like it doin' certain things, you can tell the tool to do that to help and assist you in building.
That's why I like it. That's why I use it. And with this tool selected, notice these little dots on these paths. These are what are called Ghost Handles. It's a cool name, but it allows you to just grab it. You immediately get access to the anchor point. You don't get that ability with Illustrator out of the box, but you can grab a path and bend it, just like the other tool I was showing you. And you can grab the handles and adjust those. So it works pretty much the same way. It just gives you more flexibility to customize your workflow, and that's why I love it, is because it does that.
It also does some other things, like correct broken anchor points. Because the way Illustrator is, you can break a smooth anchor point. And it turns it to a corner, and it's kind of a time, it takes a little bit of time to fix it inside Illustrator. And this tool, plugin, that is, makes that process even faster. So we're gonna go to this part of the mustache. And to start building here, I'm just gonna show you how I build this shape. Once again, wherever it comes to a point, I don't have to worry about the curves.
I just hit these points with my anchor, with my Pen tool, that is, like this. So I'm only gonna build half of this, so we'll go here on half. I don't think I have Smart Guides turned on, so Command + U to turn 'em on. And sometimes they get in the way, so I usually toggle 'em on and off. Then I'll zoom in once I have 'em. I'm actually gonna toggle 'em off because I don't like havin' 'em on when I'm using the PathScribe tool and bending paths like this.
Because it tends to wanna snap to certain things at times, and it can kinda get in the way. So you'll wanna toggle those on and off as you use 'em. But this is all I'll do, is I'll finesse these curves, and I'm using my underlying drawing to kinda guide me. So I try to work out how I'm gonna, how these shapes are gonna be formed in vector before I even move to vector, when I'm drawing somethin' out. So I try to figure that out, shape and format is before I ever get to my vector drawing application, just to make the process go faster.
And so you can see that's how I'd form that shape to create that part of the mustache. I do the same thing on the opposite side. So that's how I go about building the base art. Another point, a detail, is I'll create, like on the teeth, let's go ahead and change this, so you can see it a little better. Like that, you can collapse that, and this is where I'll build this shape like this. You'll go, well, that looks nothing like it should for the shape.
Well, no, but this is where I'll grab, in this case, the Pathfinder tool again, and then I'll go in and, with these Ghost Handles, I can just grab 'em like that or grab the path like this and bend it up. And you can see how quickly it can go to form these teeth. I don't have to be labor-intensive on how to create 'em. I can just find the basic coordinates for the anchor points that come to a corner, and then the curves will come naturally after those are locked in.
So think about how these shapes are composed, and that's gonna help you to discern where to place your anchor points and make the whole process a lot faster, a lot easier. And most importantly, over time, it'll be far more precise, and it will look nicer as well. So you get the aesthetic benefits as well I should point out. When it's all said and done, this is all of our base art, as shown here. I'll go in and clean everything up and fuse things. So right now, like you can see the eyes are back where they were.
I just wanted to show you how I do end up buildin' those out. But other areas, like the face, I created this shape of the face, but these will actually knock out of the face. So these would actually punch out of this shape or Minus Front using Pathfinder. So I'll go through and clean up everything. So when it's all said and done, I have clean black and white artwork like this. We can turn off our Refined Sketch. And all this means is I have this black island sittin' behind all of these islands of white that make up the face, that make up the hair, so on and so forth.
So that's how I'll build my base art, and so now we can have fun in colorizing it. But it's at this stage that I tend to look at things, and I set it aside. And I print it out, post it up on the wall, and I'll move on to another project, completely somethin' else, completely different, not think about this, then come back to my sketch that I printed out, and I go, oh, you know what? That doesn't look quite right. And so one thing, on this one, as I printed this out, as I'm looking at it, I notice somethin' I could improve on.
I'm gonna turn on the Revised one, and you can see, if I toggle it (chuckles), it's like he had a lazy eye! It was like looking off to his right. And so I just move that in, and now he looks directly at the viewer. And I improve the hair on the left-hand side. It was this, it's kinda slopin' up a little bit too far, and I thought this would look better, kinda not giving so much attention to that. So it's little minute details, but I think it improves the overall composition.
And it's, I study stuff, I look at it. And sometimes, like on this case, I made that edit, and then I went back to the job I was workin' on. Then I came back to it, noticed somethin' else, and figured out, okay, well, I'm gonna go ahead and fix that as well. And this one isn't that big a deal, and you can't even notice it as I'm turning this layer on and off. Why is that? Well, let me zoom in 'cause you can see it if I zoom in. If I zoom in on the artwork, notice how everything comes to these dagger points.
It's like if you fell on his eyebrow, you would, you know, stab yourself (laughs). That's kinda what I'm talkin' about there. And so what I did is I went in, and I added subtle rounds on everything, just to soften it ever so slightly. You'd never notice that without zooming in, but I just wanted to call that out. Because I do pay attention to that level of detail because it's gonna improve the overall drawing when it's all said and done. So that's what I do. That's how I figure it out.
And now I wanna kinda figure out the values of this artwork and figure out how to go about shading it, how to go about working out the detailing on it. So let's go ahead and zoom in on it a little more. And on the values, here's some gray values I just dropped in. And I haven't done any shading other than on the eyes itself. I went ahead and just kinda built in that shading. I wasn't even sure if I'm gonna keep that in the final, but I thought it looked pretty good.
But I'm trying to figure out, overall, the values of how I'm gonna approach this when I start to move to color. And this is where I wanna start figuring out how to shade this, how to pull it off. And yes, I went back to my original source photo and looked at it, but this is where I'll print it out in black and white. And then I'll just grab a pencil, and I'll start working on simplifying the shading, working out the shading, and figuring out those areas.
And I tried to do it in a very graphic way so it matches the style of everything else I have going. And I take a lot of liberty, like I did with the base art, to form these shapes. I'm not trying to be hyper-realistic here, so it's all about simplification of form to create the illusion of depth in the shading. So that's what I've done here. Once I have it, I'll go ahead and this shows, actually, my drawn shading placed on a layer on top of the value base art that I created.
Then I'll go back in, and I'll build all that shading, just like I built the original base artwork. So when it's all said and done, I end up having the shading needed for this design. So this is how the shading would look dropped in. And if I turn on this layer, you can see the highlights as shown here. And I think this is gonna work really well. And it's at this stage, I wasn't completely sure what the color was. I still kinda thinking about that, but I knew I wanted type to go with this.
So this is when I printed it out, and I started kinda just roughly doing hand-lettering around it. And since this is The Dude, I felt it should say The Dude. So this is how I originally roughed it out really quickly, just to try to work out those letter forms. Then I'd go back in and clean it up, as you can see here. And this is how I'll work out the hand-lettering. I'll place it with my artwork inside Illustrator, just like I do with the base art.
I'll build the base vector shapes to form the lettering. And then, after I have those, I'll turn it into the black and white. And this is where I'll also go in and make some subtle rounds. Because if I zoom in on here, you can see these come to a dagger point as well. So I'll make those subtle rounds, as shown here. I'll set it aside, I'll come back, I'll look at it, art direct myself once again, and then decide these over here need to move a little bit.
So I'll fix that and get them workin' the way I want. And now, once I've had all this figured out, now I know I have my base art, ready to color everything, ready to figure out what my color composition is. And on this, I went back to the movie itself and figured I need to derive my colors from the movie. This is fan art essentially of The Big Lebowski, so it should be Big Lebowski-type colors. Well, what are those? It's a movie about these hardcore bowlers and all the dumb things they get involved with.
And so I went back to a scene that was one of my favorite ones, and I just started sampling images from the screen capture to get my tonal family, which is this dark brown that comes from his sweater. This brown's pulled off of his sunglasses. I pulled this off of the drink he's drinking here, this off of the background of the bowling alley. And so I just pulled it from the scene of the movie to create the values that I'm gonna use in my coloring. So if we go back to our artwork now and we're gonna colorize this, we have the tonal values worked out.
I know the darkest color is gonna be the background of his hair, and it's gonna be this type. So this would be the darkest brown, so we'll go ahead and color that. I'm gonna take the hair, all the components that make up his hair, and this is gonna be a pretty dark shade brown as well, but light enough that it contrasts with the dark. Then we'll take the inside part, which is gonna make up his face, the color of his skin. So we'll go ahead and color that.
And then the shadowing on his face, we'll go ahead and color that. And you can see how it's all working together really, really well. We're gonna zoom in here because I wanna take this inner shape here, and this is also gonna be colored the same as the hair, like that. And then we're gonna take the inside of his eye, this little shading area, we'll go ahead and color it like this. And then, instead of being stark white on the highlights, we're gonna go to the lightest color here and color it that, just so it's not so stark.
We want his eyes and teeth to be stark, but not the highlights themselves. We'll select this and color it the subtle shade, same color as the skin. And you can see this is looking really, really well. And so it was at this point, I thought I was pretty much done. I was gonna turn this into stickers actually. But then, after I came back to it the next day, once again, I took fresh eyes look at it, and I go, you know what? Somethin's kinda bugging me, and it's this area here, on the left and the right side, these little floating things.
I'd looked at it so much, it didn't look weird to me. But after not looking at it for about 12 hours, I come back and I go, yeah, those don't look right. Went back to the reference, really looked at it, go, okay, yeah, I didn't, I kinda blew out those areas not too well in Photoshop. So I went back to my base artwork, changed that to fix it, to look like this. And once I did that, I go, oh, that's way better. I like that way better, makes more sense. It doesn't look weird.
And so this is the artwork I finally went with, and it was a lot of fun. I love the movie, but I also created some Dude stickers. If you're interested in those, shoot me an email. We can talk about it, and I can give you more information on where you can grab one of those. And it was a lot of fun to work on. So the creative process should always be willing to reevaluate itself at any time and recognize areas needing improvement to create the best art possible. You're never gonna get things right the first time.
Yeah, sometimes you do, and those are great when that happens. But for me, those are far and few between, so. That was the case with this project. I kept art directing myself, and that is one of the best creative habits you can get into as a designer or an illustrator. So I encourage you to scrutinize yourself. Be your own worst critic, and you're gonna improve a lot faster if you do that. Don't settle for it's good enough. Thank you for watching DVG Lab.
And until next time, never stop drawing dude.
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.