Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Process - From Concept to Final Product

I've really enjoyed reading some process posts by other designers, and learning what goes into their craft.
I think the first one I read was by Jan of Daisy Janie, where she posted about how her doodles transform into fabric designs.  She also linked to Jessica Swift, who showed how she turns an illustration into a colored print using photoshop, and to Stephanie Corfee, who showed how her doodles become prints. 

So, I've decided to show what goes into my artwork.  I mostly use Adobe Illustrator.  The main difference between Photoshop and Illustrator is that Photoshop creates artwork with pixels, Illustrator creates artwork with vectors.  So if you draw a line in Photoshop and you zoom in really close, you'll be able to see the different pixels, but if you create a line with Illustrator, no matter how much you zoom in, the line looks the same - crisp and straight and not blurry.  With illustrator, when you create a shape, you can make it infinitely larger with no blurring or separating, whereas with a picture, for instance, which is made up of pixels, if you make it larger than its set resolution, you will begin seeing blurriness and if you keep zooming you will see each separate color pixel.

Anyway, enough about that, on to the process!

Birds Fly Over the Rainbow Concept Sketch

I start out with a concept in my head, and a rough idea of how I want things laid out.  Then sometimes I might go straight to Illustrator to start drawing shapes, but in this case I was at my day job and when I get bored I doodle on notebook paper.  I am by no means a good drawer.  I even had to take some sketching classes in college, and it just takes too long to do good sketches for me- I don't want to bust out a ruler and the little curvy ruler thing they made us buy.  The only thing I was good at that was drawing-related was charcoal drawings, and the way I made them look cool was by making everything look really blurry so you could tell what it was from far away but up close it was just some blobs.  So basically, precise drawing is not for me.

I get so off-topic when I write.  But its also the way I tell stories, so imagine how my family/friends feel when they just want me to get to the point.

Anyway, so I make a drawing, and that's basically just a reference for me to start from.  I then go into Illustrator and start drawing.  For this piece, I liked the way my handwritten words looked, and I knew I wouldn't be able to replicate it with a commercial font, so I decided to draw my letters using the pen tool.

Illustrator Pen Tool, Drawing Letters - Process Post

So after I played around with the thickness of the letters,  I drew my rainbow and started playing around with fonts and the placement and colors of my "over the rainbow".

Over the Rainbow, Illustrator drawing Process

Then I made the rest of the letters and played with the sizes to make everything fit in there.

Illustrator Digital Art Process Post, color choosing

Then I started playing with colors to see if I wanted a background design or just a plain color. I thought yellow would be a good color since it's like the sun, or a sky blue.  (that green line down the middle is my guide for making sure my 'sunbeams" were in the middle.
Yellow Rainbow Background

Yellow Rainbow Background

Blue Background Rainbow, Digital Art Process Post

I'm thinking I like the blue more than the yellow.  And then I decide since it's supposed to be a sky, maybe I should add some cute swirly clouds to the background, so I drew one and took a pic with my phone.

Swirly Clouds drawn to show process of digital art

And this would have been a million times easier if I had drawn on plain white paper, because then I could have just used the "live trace" function and Illustrator would have done this for me, but next I used the pen tool in Illustrator to redraw the clouds.
Tracing clouds using pen tool in Illustrator

Then I placed the clouds in the background of the image and moved them around a bit and resized them until I thought they looked good, and I also had to work on how the script font flowed together.  When you type on a path (in this case I used a curved line that matched the shape of the rainbow), it rotates the letters, so you need to change the font to outlines and reshape the tails of the letters so they connect smoothly.  Here you can see how they weren't smooth:

Convert to outlines and smooth out letter connections

And after fixing a few of my drawn letters that I wasn't happy with, I now have a finished print!  To go from an illustrator file to a jpg, I save it as a pdf, then "place" in photoshop, then do File/Save for Web and save it as a high quality jpg.  And voila!
Final Blue Birds Fly Over the Rainbow Digital Art Print
I also decided I think it might need a little less busy-ness going on, so I made a white version also:
Final White Background Birds Fly Over the Rainbow Digital Art Print
Print available in the shop here:

I'd love to see some other process posts, no matter what your craft is! Please post to any process posts you find in the comments!

1 comment:

  1. I loved reading how you refine the idea over and over again until you end up with something really expressive. I love rainbows, so I might have to order this one. :)