Skill Level Intermediate
- [Instructor] Welcome to Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory. If you want to stretch yourself creatively and grow as a designer, or even an illustrator, you have to be willing to try new things and experiment for no other reason than to discover new ways you can work. It's a vital part of any creative's career. In this movie, I want to take you through a personal project and show you how along the way I discovered a new way to color and detail an illustration that I had never done before this time.
So let me show you how it all came together using various methods. Now, this whole project started as an innocent doodle. I was just, I keep these notepads next to my desk. I have an iPad case which has a built in sketchbook and that's where this one specifically came from, and whenever I'm about and I'm sitting around and I have time, I'll just start doodling. I don't know what I'm going to doodle, it just comes off the top of my head, and that's where this one came from.
This fish character, and he's wearing a fedora, and he's smoking a bubble pipe, and he has wings. Why does he have wings? I have no idea, it just looked cool so I doodled it. And I had done this, didn't think much of it, set it aside, and then a few months after the fact, I was going through a folder where I put all my doodles in. I saw this guy again and I go, you know what? I really like this, I need to flesh this out in a final illustrative form, so that's exactly what I did.
But, instead of jumping into Illustrator and trying to build it out traditionally using the Pen Tool, I decided to handle it in a different way. Once again, I decided to explore in a different route to see what I could come up with, and so I stayed in analog, and I used a brush pen to ink out this artwork in a more final rendition. Now, I love these brush pens. They're Pilot Pocket Brush Pens is the specific brand, and these I can only find them on one site.
I'm sure they're somewhere in the States, but I buy them from jetpens.com which is a Japanese site that sells pens, and I order them by the bulk. Because, well for this year in Inktober, I went through like eight of them to do all my Inktober drawings. They work really great. You can get this nice organic thick and thin feel as you ink out, and they don't bleed, which I really, really like. So anyway, that's how I created the base art here. Once I had this, I scanned it in and then I moved to Illustrator, and this is the actual scan here.
This scan is, what I scanned it in as resolution-wise was 800 pixels per inch. So it's a pretty high resolution scan and I just want to show you one method in terms of scanning artwork like this. What are the settings I use? So we're going to go up here and go to Image Trace, and we'll open that up and I'm going to go ahead and click Advanced because I want that, and we're going to select this image, and then everything is ungrayed when you do that.
And the first thing you want to do when you're tracing an image is, I don't want any of the white in this image to actually be a shape at this point, because if I did that it would make the background a shape, and I don't want it to be. I want it to be a transparent, so we're going to click Ignore White, and then I just image trace it at the highest possible tolerance, so I pull this top one for Paths to 100%, and pull Noise down all the way to one pixel. I want it to pick up all the detail that I sketched. I don't want an algorithm to kind of make a decision for me.
And once I have that, I'll click Trace. And then after clicking Trace, you'll want to go up here and click Expand. And then you have access to your vector art as you can see. I'm going to close the Image Trace window, we don't need that anymore. And that's all I do, and so this turns it into nice vector-based artwork, but it still retains all the characteristics of that hand formed inked line of thick and thins.
Now, this is a lot of anchor points. If I select them, you can see we have thousands of anchor points over there. And yeah, it gets a little absurd in that regard. I can show you one thing. I can tell you specifically how many anchor points by clicking a plugin I use, and there is about 30,000 anchor points, so we're talking a lot of anchor points, but that's okay. It's still going to work really great. Now, I go from this point, which this is see through, meaning think of it as a window, so if I create a shape just to explain it a little better, and we color this yellow.
And I'm going to copy this, select the art we just image traced, and paste it behind, you can see that everywhere that's white is just showing through. So, the shapes that we have here are all these black shapes, so what we want to do at this point is we want to select it, and then I'm just going to go to Object, I'm going to go down to Compound Path and I'm going to go Release, and you might need to hit Ungroup a few times, because it'll tend to group things, and we'll deselect the outermost shape on all of these.
So like on the bubble pipe, and all of these bubbles over here. Like this. And now, all the inner shapes are shown selected here, and I'm just going to click this graphic style of magenta outline here, and then deselect so you can see what I've done there. So, this is how I would kind of start using this artwork, and then these I would just go in and fill these just white with no outline. Now I'm not going to spend the time to do that.
I've already kind of spent the time doing that, so let's change to our base black and white layer, and you can see that I have it setup ready to color. Here's the black, and all these are little islands of white, so that's how I go about preparing my art to start coloring it and detailing it, and on this one we're going to use a tonal family that looks like this. I tried to pick complimentary colors that work really well, and I wanted it bright and lively, because it's going to fit the theme we're kind of going for here.
So, we'll go ahead and zoom in a little bit. Go in a little bit more, and all I'm going to do is color some of these, and I like setting out swatches like this, because it's a lot faster than going over and selecting, going over here, clicking, selecting, clicking. I can just select a shape here, go up here, sample it with the eyedropper. Select the next shape, go up here, sample it, select the next shape, go up here, sample it. And it just goes a lot faster if I use the eyedropper to do this type of coloring.
So, I've kind of got in the habit of doing this over the years, and there's many times that I just avoid the Swatches palette altogether when I'm doing base coloring like this, just because it makes the process going faster. And actually once you have something already colored, you can resample that to apply color in other places, so it does make the process going faster when you work like this. That's why I do it, and so, we're just going to keep coloring this. And seeing what it looks like.
I'll experiment at this stage. I'll put down initially what I think is going to work, but most times as I move forward I end up changing some things because I realize as I start coloring other things, to balance it out, it's going to look better if I handle it a little differently. So that's how I do coloring, the base coloring on this. Now, when it's all said and done, the base color ends up looking like this, so I have everything colored how I think I want it to look, and once I got everything flat colored and filled in like this, I realize I didn't so much like the outline being this stark black around the bubble pipe, around the bubbles, and around the character itself.
So, what I did is I created this darker blue color and I'm going to go ahead and apply that to the outline, and I think it works better with all the colors in general. So I think this is going to work really well. Now as I move forward like I said previously I'm always kind of looking at this, setting it aside, coming back and saying, is there something I want to do to push it further or make it better? And I'm always refining color, so this is what I had, and then I came back later and realized, you know what? This looks better, and all I've done here for example on the tail here, is I have the base color which is based off of this color right here, but this is 100% value.
And then I decided to go in and reapply the same colors, but on this one, let's go to Fill, you can see it's just a 60% tint of the base color. So that's what I do, just to add some nice variation. I did the same thing up here in the fin, and down the bottom fin, on both sides. I can't remember which one's the dorsal fin. Anyway you guys can let me know. This isn't exactly realistic, so I don't care. So, as I keep moving forward, I keep refining those base elements, until I have a final base.
So I keep making more and more refinements. Now, what I want to do here is kind of explain to you how in the process of doing this at the time, I had never really used the Blob Brush. Now if you want to know what the Blob Brush is, go over to the tool palette, it's right here. We'll click on it, and the Blob Brush, I had played with it previously a few times, but at this point, when I started work on this artwork I had never used it fully in a project until I got here.
I'm going, well I want to add shading but I don't want to build it with a pen tool, I want it to be more organic. So, what I'm going to do is go to Swatches. I'm going to switch to this bright magenta swatch, because nowhere in my design am I using this. So I want to go ahead and use this as my fill color with the Blob Brush, and what we're going to do is zoom in on an area right here at the eye, and I'm going to show you how I create the shading on this, because it's going to work well for the style, which is organic and hand done, and I want to keep that aesthetic going.
So, I'm going to double-click into the Blob Brush and right now it's set for five points. I'm going to push this down to, we'll try two, and I want this to be Accurate, so I don't want an algorithm to figure out, well how can we smooth it? I want it to be as close to exactly what I draw as it can be, so I put it on Accurate, and I have Merge with Selection Only. Meaning if I have one image, one shape selected with the color I'm using and I draw the Blob Brush to create the other color, it's going to fuse them together, and that's okay.
Sometimes I want to do that, sometimes I don't, but I'll just show you. I'll just use the Blob Brush to draw out these areas, like I intend it to be for shading. Like this, and if I select the inner part, I'll delete that, and then I'm going to select the shape I want it to apply to and I'm going to clone it, Command + C, Command + F. And then select both and using Pathfinder I'm going to intersect it and this gives me my final shading shape.
Now, I can colorize this the shading color for that base color, and that's how I go about creating the shading on a design like this. You don't want to use the same color as your shape or it'll actually fuse to this shape, so that's why I use a magenta. We'll do a couple more here. I'll do it on the bottom part of the eyelid, like this. And I'll draw out the shape, like this, and you've seen me use this process in a previous DVG lab, and it was on some Tiki artwork I did for some iOS stickers.
And I actually did that project after I did this one. This is the one that inspired that process, and so we'll do the same approach here, and like the other one, we're going to use the shading color on this. Now, this is how I shade. The same principle applies to doing the highlighting as well. I'll use the same color initially and I want kind of a rim lighting on the bottom part of the eye, like it's reflecting up.
Like this. Select the inner detail. Select this eye, clone it, Command + C, Command + F. Select both, Intersect. I'm going to color this white, and this is where we can go to Transparency and maybe we set this for, 30, that's a little too light, let's go 40, like this, to create a rim light on the bottom. Now if I want to add some, let's say some highlighting to this top eyelid here, we'll use the same base color to establish it, and then I'll go ahead and draw this out the way I intend it to be, like this.
Select the inner part, select the base shape. Clone it, Command + C, Command + F. Select both shapes, go to Pathfinder, Intersect. I'll color this white and then we can adjust the transparency to get the highlight effect we want. We'll try 40. That's not bad, maybe just 10, a bit lighter, 30, and that's how I'll create the highlights and shadows using that blub (laughs) Blub Brush, the Blob Brush technique. We'll zoom out here and I'm going to turn on the exact same artwork above it without that Blob Brush detailing, and I want to do that because I want to now zoom in on this a little bit, so you can see this really clearly on screen, and I'm going to turn, this looks good, but check out with all the Blob Brush shading in place how much better it looks.
So that's with it, without, with it. It just makes it far more engaging, and I added some other detail like these spots. So I did those with the Blob Brush tool using the exact same methodology, so it's very, very easy to do. And then all the highlighting added like this really punches this out and makes it work really well. Now, the shading I use on this, I should've turned this on to explain it, but all the shading for, these are our base hue colors right here, and these are the shadowing or shading colors for those base hues.
So if I click on this one, and go to Color you can see it's 60, 60, zero, 10, and then on the purple shading I've added 10 more value to the C and M to make it a richer, darker purple, and then added 15 to the black to darken it. So that's the process I used on all of these shading colors to set them up. Now, we want to move into the environment for Mr. Fishman, and yes I do name my artwork. This guy's named Mr. Fishman, and I just want to walk you through the environment that we created.
So we're going to turn these off. We'll turn on the background which is blue because he's going to be in water. We're going to turn on this. This is a halftone kind of shape, and I showed you how to create this in a previous DVG lab, which was called Creating Big Dot Halftones, so if you want to understand how to do that make sure to watch that one. But I'm going to show you it again in this course because you can use it in a lot of different ways, and the way I'm going to show you it in this course is going to be based off of a photograph. So, we'll be going over that in just a second.
And now we're going to go ahead and turn on Mr. Fishman. I did a nice halftone glow around Mr. Fishman as well, and then you see all of these follow fish going the opposite direction. Mr. Fishman is going in the opposing direction, and so the theme for this art print is go against the flow. Now, the whole reason I picked that term is as a creative, as an artist, you can notice trends and popular things happening within the aesthetic of design proper, but I encourage you to try your own things and go against that flow.
Develop your own look, develop your own style. Discover what really is passionate for you, and that's how you grow, that's how you discover. You don't learn as well if you just go along with what everybody else is doing, so always pursue your own passions and see where it goes. Now it's at this point I wanted to add some hand lettering to this, so I went back to analog, used that same brush pen I did the base art with and hand lettered this.
Go Against the Flow, and you can see along with this Papermate Flair pen I drew out all the flow fish as well. So those weren't created with the pen tool. I drew those out, inked them, scanned them in, and image traced those as well, and those are going against the flow, so when it's all said and done, the nice hand lettering goes really well with the whole composition. Now, I like where this is going, but I think we can make the environment more engaging, so we're going to switch to Photoshop and do a halftone effect on a photograph, and then we're going to come back to Illustrator and I'm going to show you how I applied it.
We're in Photoshop now and this is a stock image photo from Adobe Stock, and it's just the surface of the water where you get that reflection of the sky, and it creates this really cool pattern on the surface, as you can see here. So all I did is I took this photo. I converted it to grayscale, so it's the exact same image, it's just turned into a black and white image by making it a grayscale. And the first thing I want to do is adjust the contrast so it's more contrast.
There's distinct darks and lights, because that's going to work well for half toning. So we're going to go up to Image. We'll go to Adjustment, we'll go to Levels, and we're going to bring this up and on this one, I want to go ahead and we're going to pull this over, actually let's do the dark one first. We'll pull this over. We want it to kind of align to the left side so we'll go, that looks pretty good. And then we're going to pull this one over because we want to blow out some of the white, so we'll go over to, that looks okay.
And, you know what? I think that looks good. I'm not even going to mess with the middle slider. That looks good so we're going to click OK. So all I did is adjust the contrast, so now we have good contrast between darks and lights, and I think this is going to work very well. But I want to add a little more information that the half toning feature can kind of play with, and so at this point I'm going to go to Filter. I'm going to go down to Blur, and I'm going to add a very subtle blur to this.
Well this, I don't want to add 60, that's like way too much, so we won't do that. I'm going to add about seven, yeah I think that'll work, and we'll click OK. Now the process, we're going to halftone it and get what we want. Now, I also included the process here where I kind of label out the steps. So, when you're looking through the Exercise Files you can check that out if you want as well. But right now, I'm going to walk you through how to create the actual bitmap. So we're going to go to Image, Mode. Right now it's a grayscale, we're going to change to Bitmap.
It's going to ask you if you want to flatten it. We'll go OK, we do. Our resolution is 350 so we're just going to match that, like this, and then we're going to click on Halftone Screen right here. We're going to go OK. Now this is where we control the halftone. I want the angle to be 45. I want the dots to be round. There's other shapes, but we're going to stick with round, and for the lines per inch, this would make too big of a dot so we're going to go to 35, and we're going to go OK.
Now, oh you know what? Here's a real world thing. I screwed up, I forgot a step. Let's go back, and this is the nice thing. We can just go Command + Z, there, we're all the way back. What we want to do before we go to Halftone is we want to go to Image, we want to go to Adjustments, and we need to invert this, because I need it to look like this. Now we can go back and we can halftone it, but that's how easy it is to go back. You can just Command + Z, so it's no big deal. That's real world.
I actually do that all the time, so we'll use all the same settings. 350, halftone, 35, 45, and round, and we'll click OK, and now if I zoom in on this you can see how cool this looks. So we're going to go back to Illustrator now and put this halftone bitmap TIFF which was what we saved this out as is as a bitmap TIFF, and we're going to use it in Illustrator, and then close out this project. Okay, we're back in Illustrator, and the first application of this, I'm going to click on this layer called Bottom and you can see we have the texture placed right here.
I actually rotated this 180 degrees because I'm going to use it twice, and I don't want it to line up with one another. So what I usually do is place it, because I built it at 100%. Go to Align, I have Align setup to my artboard and I can just click Center, and then it aligns to the art print I'm creating. Now for this specific graphic we're going to go about at making this a darker color, so we want the darkest shade of this base blue. So we're going to color it like that.
That looks pretty good, but we're going to adjust the transparency and blend modes. We're going to set this to Multiply, but I don't want the value at 100. We'll do 60, and I think that's looking really cool. We'll zoom in just to show you a little bit of how it looks. That looks good, and the background you can see it's showing through. This is a more subtle application of this specific texture. We're going to go to the top one here, and you can see I have it to the right over here, and this one I didn't rotate. It's exactly as you saw in Photoshop, and I'm going to go to Align once again, Center, and on this one I want to color it white, but obviously I don't want the value 100%.
I want it to be transparent so we'll go to Transparency and I'm going to set this to 40. And this is going to add a really nice subtle aesthetic that not only runs over the background and creates that nice kind of waterly look to it. Waterly, I don't even know if that's a word, but it also interacts with the artwork really well, and it looks kind of cool. So that's how I'll use this. Now the last thing I want to do, and we'll call it a close on this art print, is of course I want to add some texture.
I love utilizing texture, so I have one over here and we're going to use Alignment to put it in place right in the center, like this, and this first texture I'm going to color this a medium blue just so it adds this nice flecking. Let's go ahead and lock these layers, and I'll zoom in just so you can see what it's doing. It's adding this nice distress over the top of all the artwork and bringing some of those colors just speckled throughout the design.
So that looks pretty cool. We're going to click on this next one, and this one's already on top here, but it's defaulted to the black, and we're going to color this one white so we add some white speckling. But I want the value to be 50, not 100, and that's going to work just as well. And then we're going to add one more, yes it's another speckle texture, and on this one we're going to do the very darkest color that we created here, the dark blue, like this.
And that's just to add a balance of all the colors, and this is the final art print. I'm going to zoom in a couple times, just so you can see some of the detail going on there. We'll zoom in even more. You can see how it looks with all the speckling in place. Looks pretty, pretty cool. So, projects like this are fun to stumble through because you never know if it's going to turn out okay or if you'll even like it for that matter. Never let fear prohibit you from pursuing creativity.
Use fear as a fulcrum to learn new things and act upon those fleeting moments of inspiration like the doodle that inspired this one. Because you never know where that's going to lead, and you're always going to find new methods you can use. So I leveraged a variety of methods to create this artwork, and never once touched the Pen Tool. That's pretty cool. So thank you for watching DVG Lab. I hope you enjoy these movies as much as I do creating them for you. Make sure to let us know what you think and send your questions to email@example.com.
Until next time, never stop drawing.
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.