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- Drawing freestyle and photo-based LLIs
- Building simple and more complex illustrations
- Shape building
- Vector welding
- Introducing color, symmetry, and motion in linear drawings
Skill Level Intermediate
The linear line style is one of the most adaptable illustrative esthetics in design. I've created linear line art work for a wide gamut of clientele over the years. My creative archive is riddled with linear art work I've created for coffee products, automobile insurance, corporate annual reports, sports events, health care iconography and even, this poster I designed for lynda.com. Needless to say, this is a very versatile illustration style that can lend itself easily to many forms of visual communications and that is why creative directors love using it.
So let me share with you a handful of projects, where I leveraged this style to create a successful design solution for my clients. In this movie, I want to share with you a handful of projects that I created for my own clients and I leveraged, specifically, the linear line style. Now, you'll see within the samplings that I'm going to show you here both a free style type of linear illustration, as well as a photo base style of linear illustration. Now, the great part of working in linear line is that it can apply to any kind of genre and I say that because I've done it for so many different things, I've yet to find one that it just simply won't work for.
And if there is any design project that has the potential to be very boring, it's annual reports because it's mostly just that, reports. A lot of type, lot of numbers, columns of type and photos of CEOs who love seeing their own photos but it's really boring. Well, I worked with a great creative director on a company annual report and they wanted this type of artwork you see here. She loved my linear line drawings and so I created a bunch of different artwork and it was very artistic, the annual report, and so this was, this specific theme I created here is like a security guard and a vault and it's about protecting your money, resources.
This was for a mortgage and title company's annual report. So a lot of fun to create the artwork for that project. Now the really fun part about that was after I was done with the project, I did a portrait of their CEO. Now, I suggested this to the creative director. I said hey, what would you think if I just did in the same style as the annual report you're going to be giving to him, a linear portrait of your CEO and then suggested to her that she could have this printed out larger and framed and given to him as a gift and they loved that idea.
So I actually created an extra little side project, in addition to what I did for their annual report and that's how this portrait came out. Once again, the same style applied but this is a freestyle drawn one and this one is based off of, obviously, a photograph of the CEO but it was a lot of fun to create and I used the width tool to add in all the thicks and thins. Now, on this project this was for an ad agency down in Texas and one of their clients is a university down there and if you look at this tower in the middle of the top one and the far left on the bottom one, that's like a monument that's on their campus.
So it is a recognizable piece of architecture that anyone that goes to the college would be able to recognize and what this was all about was creating a visual narrative using a linear line style and they were playing off of the time line, so this person that went to college as shown in the top, was on their track team. He excelled in his studies. He went to this college. He is a very smart student and he became an Olympian.
So that it kind of tells the story of their alumni. That's what these were used for in context of advertisements for this university. So that's how I used a linear line approach and in this case, no thick and thins. It works well, just as is. The next one, this was for a marketing booklet by a guy who handles SEO for websites and he wanted the style of all the iconography for this marketing booklet to be handled in a linear line fashion. So these were icons and as you look at these, you're going to see non-linear detailing on a few of these icons and that's okay.
Such as the text on the speaking bubble and couple of the lines in this kind of globe shape. So that's fine. It still fits within the parameters of the linear line style. I like doing icons, so these were for Liberty Mutual Insurance. It was for a magazine article that they were doing on driver safety and one unique part about these linears that I haven't done it in any other linear project, is that it has both a thinner part of the linear and a thicker.
So at some point it turns from thick and thin and that was to reinforce the various aspects. So in this one on the top right. It's to reinforce the seatbelt and on the bottom middle, it's to reinforce that the cars will detect obstacles that may pop up in the road. So that's how I used linear approach to create this artwork for that client. Now, I don't always do linear line style just for clients. Sometimes I do it for fun.
So when I first started working this style back in around 2003, 2004, I created this piece of artwork. Now this was before the width tool ever existed, so I actually drew these out in thick and thins and had to build them as shapes, so it was a lot harder than it is now. I wouldn't build it that way today. I would use one continuous path and just create the thick and thins using the width tool. So those of you who haven't really explored this style for the most part, it's a lot easier to do it now, than it was even, seven or eight years ago.
Another project I worked on, this was for the National Restaurant Association. It was to promote their event and you can see worked into this typography as well, so this was kind of fun. It was used on their cover and I also created a nice little pattern based off of linear style that they also used on their print collateral pieces, so that was a fun project to work on. Here's another one. This is for a transit system up in Canada and I did a series of linear illustrations for them and this is a good example of the design studio that I worked with providing me with photographic reference and shots that they took, that I then composited together and used those photo references to guide my photo-based linear illustrations from.
Now, in one of the first movies of this course, I showed how I drew out my friend John, who posed for this photograph and this shows you actually, how the final billboards came out that were used down in Australia to promote this new development living area of homes called Livingston and so, that's how my friend John came out. Here's another one we did. We did a total of about 12 different billboards and that was a really fun project to work on. Now, not everything is so distinctly commercial.
So every now and then, I still do editorial illustrations. This is for an investment magazine and they're talking about shale oil and renewable energy, hence the leaf coming out. So if I zoom in on this, you can see how I used a linear approach to create the artwork in this one page editorial spot but I also worked into it a nice texturing, so that's how that came out and that's what this project was all about. So it's very flexible, very adaptable for different types of projects and here's another photo-based linear one and this was for a pharmaceutical company and it's a good example of how I had to capture a specific device but they wanted a linear style.
So on the cover of this long, thin piece, it was a promo mailer, they had all these people and then it went off the side, came in on the inside, created the profiles of these buildings from Chicago and then created the device, so that's kind of how that composition worked. Now you saw me drawing out the owl earlier in this course and so I wanted to show you how that final context came out, so you can kind of see the full circle. I used a thick and thin approach with the width tool and you can see how I pulled off my vector artwork there and it became this nice T-shirt for a summer camp.
So the usages for linear line are all over the map. They can be used for everything from distinctly commercial purposes to nonprofits to visual identities. So I have two more I want to share with you and this one was another one. One of the actually, very first identities I ever did using this style. Once again, it was before they had the width tool. So I had to build this in shapes and there was no width tool to make it easier. Now as I look at this, this mark is over a decade old now, there's aspects of it that I'd probably do differently now.
I wouldn't put quite so many loops into it. That's something that I learned over the past decade of drawing out a lot of linear art work is that you want to use your loops sparingly. I mean it's a little forgiving, since it's an art center, so I still kind of like it but there's parts of it I'd probably do differently now. So I wanted to throw that in because as you do any type of design, your going to get better over time and when you review stuff you did in the past, you're probably going to cringe, that's pretty normal. So one of the recent projects that I just worked on was a new identity system for an investment firm down in Texas called White Hat and this was one of the design directions I presented to them.
Now they went with a different design direction and that looked good too but one of the directions I gave them was a linear line approach. I also created a secondary brand graphic using this hat that I showed in a previous movie. So I just wanted to show the full context of that project. So I've been working in a linear line style since about 2003. Back in 2003, I did this self portrait. I was interviewed by this magazine, they asked me to do a self portrait, so I created this and you can notice that I worked into it myself drawing a linear line drawing and that was because I was kind of fascinated by that style at the time.
This is, basically, where it all started in terms of drawing linear lines. So it intrigued me for a year and it didn't matter where I was at, I was always doodling it. So look for opportunities to use this style in your own work because the linear line illustration, it's only limitation is your imagination. So whatever you're working on, consider it as the direction that you can take with your style.