Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Recent Doodles

Here's some schtuff from the ol' clipboard:

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Coloring Process and More!

Sorry for the delay on this one. I've been swamped with work and still have some projects that need to get out the door. Anyway... This piece is for YRB Magazine to accompany a short blurb on Japanese Human Vending Machines.

Since I didn't know that I was going to use this piece for my post on coloring, I deleted the sketch layer from my Illustrator document before I sent it off to YRB. So I'm going to start this off with finished line art. I've noticed that my backgrounds and props have been pretty weak overall after looking back on my past work. This time I wanted to make sure the non-character elements got some love and had more life to them.

After my initial sketch was approved I spent some time really trying to make the vending machine itself look fun. I also decided that I would finish the line art for the machine first and then print it out and throw it on the light box to draw the characters on separate pieces of paper above. This worked out well since I could draw the characters a bunch of times and have a better idea of how they should work with the machine.

Once I was happy with the characters I scanned them in and placed the sketches on top of the machine line art on its own layer. Then I went through my usual digital inking process in Illustrator.

Once the line art is completed I create the layers for the color. In this case I made separate color layers for the characters and the machine. I like to keep my files organized and easy to alter later if I need to make changes. At this point I use the pen tool to draw each color shape on a layer below the line art. In the above pic you can see the final colors with the line art layers turned off.

Here's the layers palette for this piece. Missing are the two layers with the background sketch and character sketch. The border layer is so I can save out a jpeg that will crop to the size of my composition rather than right up to the edge of the artwork.

Here's the final piece! Before I send it off I switch the color mode to CMYK for printing. In Illustrator and Photoshop I always work in RGB first and then switch it to CMYK before it goes off to print. That extra color channel can really add to your file size as well as make Photoshop and Illustrator work harder.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Hold Yer Horses!

Due to looming deadlines I didn't get a chance to finish the coloring tutorial. It will get posted sometime this week. Stay tuned!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Tiny Sketches

The sketch below was originally 1.5 inches tall. For some reason whenever I'm drawing a character that takes up most of the page the proportions start to get all whacked. For my jobs the sketches are no bigger than 5 inches in any direction. That also makes it easier to redraw a character a bunch of times to get it to where I'm satisfied. Anyone else working tiny on paper before they bring into Illustrator or Photoshop for finishing?

Friday, February 02, 2007

Digital Inking Basics

Here's a pencil drawing from one of my favorite cartoon bloggers Pedro Vargas. The first step is to open it in Illustrator and save it as an AI file. Next select the drawing and change the transparency to around 50% or whatever you're comfortable with. Lock this layer and create a new one above it.

Select the brush tool and make sure you're on the top layer. Initially I like to go for what I think should be the heaviest lines. For me the larger forms or shapes should have the thicker lines.

Next I go for the medium weighted portions. Try to use the line weight to describe a characters form and mass. For the most part I avoid parallel line weight for the same reason you should avoid parallel lines when drawing an organic shaped character.

I use my smallest brush for all the details. Don't get lazy with the small lines. They still need varying line weights to stay interesting.

Turn off or delete the pencil sketch layer and you're done! Next week... coloring!

Additional tips:

Hold the option (or ALT key for you Windows types) while in the brush tool and quickly draw over a selected line to smooth it out. Very helpful, but don't overdo it... you don't want to kill the 'hand done' aspect!

Switch to the white arrow tool to reposition points on a selected line.

Hold down the option/ALT key with the pen tool to remove unwanted to excessive points on a selected line.

Don't forget you can adjust your Wacom Tablet preferences for additional control over the feel and functions.

Brush Makin' Time

Alrighty, I promised to make a quick tutorial on setting up your own brush for digital inking with a Wacom Tablet in Adobe Illustrator. So here we go!

First create a new document. Then make sure the brushes palette is visible, if it's not then press F5 to open it.

Now click on the 'create new' icon to the left of the trash icon.

Select 'new calligraphic brush' and hit 'ok'.

Change the 'diameter' pulldown menu from 'fixed' to 'pressure'. Now change 'diameter' point size to 4pt and the variation to 4pt. Press 'ok' when you're done. Later on you can make smaller or larger brushes.

That's it! Have fun with the freedom and control of digital vector inks! Tomorrow I'll be posting a basic inking tutorial to get you started using your new tool.