Once the Illustrator artwork is complete it’s exported as a .psd file and opened up in Photoshop where each layer is converted to an adjustment layer (a solid colour with a mask).
I use texture brushes that have a nice serrated line to soften the edges of the shadows. This contrasts nicely with the smooth edges elsewhere. The sky texture is a scan of some ink sprayed with a toothbrush.
Here it’s has been redrawn in Illustrator with the pen tool (with each element on a separate layer). I then work out the values using various percentages of grey (10%, 20% etc). This gives me an idea of the darkest and lightest parts of the illustration. The values might change once i start applying the colour but it gives me a general direction.
Then I begin thinking in terms of colour. To test out various colour schemes I sometimes create a simplified version of the artwork. In this case its reduced to four basic shapes: sky, space suit, boots and landscape. I fill these with colour and use Illustrator’s Live Color feature and try out different combinations. I eventually settled on a complementary scheme (blue and orange).
The sketch was scanned and printed out at A5 size. Placing a sheet of detail paper ( a type of soft tracing paper) over the top i redrew it refining the lines and adjusting the size. As you can see the sketch (pictured right) is pretty loose and could of been tightened up a lot more.
This is the stage where all the creative heavy lifting is done and the best time to work out any problems. Keep an eye out for tangents and awkward shapes in your design. Sometimes it’s easier to redraw elements on separate bits of detail paper and assemble together.
Get your character design as perfect as possible so once you have it in Illustrator it’s just a matter of following the lines with the pen tool. This drawing was scanned at 100 dpi and placed into CMYK Illustrator file.
My idea was to show a spaceman who has just stepped foot on another world with a look of smug self-satisfaction on his face.
First, I started doodling some ideas in my sketchbook. I knew i wanted the stylised retro look so i kept the shapes as simple as possible. I tried out various poses and at one point he became floating repair man holding a toolbox. This changed to a more traditional heroic pose with hands on hips. I liked the quick sketch at top right. It had a strong silhouette and gave a good sense of the character.
I have always loved the look of picture book illustration for the 1950’s and the UPA animation style. That’s the inspiration for this guy. Wasn’t sure what to call him but he looks like a George to me.
As usual this started on paper then redrawn in illustrator. Shapes placed on a separate layers and converted to compound paths then exported as a psd. When opened in Photoshop each layer appears as an adjustment layer with a mask. I then finalized the colours and added the textures.
Here’s a character i refined with pencil and fineliner on detail paper. This was scanned (100dpi A4) and placed in Illustrator.
I used the pen tool to redraw it keeping all the various sections on separate layers. At this early stage i am just using greyscale fills mostly to get a sense of the values but also don’t want to be distracted by colour.
Here is the first colour version (above).
The vector artwork was opened up in Photoshop. I tried to give a more painterly look by using soft edged brushes.
Artwork was export to Photoshop where shading and textures were added.
The final vector artwork in Illustrator.
A vector version in greyscale to show values
A more refined version on detail paper
My first rough sketch