I recently discovered a folder I had created called "character styles", containing examples of characters from illustrations which had a style I admired, enjoyed, or had parts which I sought to emulate some day. In that folder were a few examples of what I call "pill-style", ulitising very rounded geometry. What gives it such a charming look - what curves go into this geometry, how do shapes relate to each other? 

My exploration to the form of trying to deconstruct a skater illustration, paying particular attention to key techniques that the artist used to such great effect. The rounded rectangles (pills) are made using the rectangle tool, and the curvature of a pair of corners set to the max. These make up the arms, legs, skateboard, eyebrows, beard. fingers, tongue, and general highlights. Circles make up hair, eyes, hand palm, wheels, shoe upper, etc. Shadows are generally made up copying the main shape and shifting it upwards - the intersection then forms an organic area for shading - hair, his right arm, main torse shape etc. The highlights which curve in the form of their main shape, I formed by using "Path: Offset Path", then using the Scissors Tool to take part of the path, and then increasing the stroke to 30+pt with the rounded cap set in the Stroke panel. This can then be expanded to form the rounded "pill" form.

Learned so much from this exercise - what I need now is to practice! Surely, this style is where the likes of the Shape Builder Tool should find itself right at home!

pill skater deconstricted colour 

pill skater deconstricted

You know you are making progress when materials that you struggled to grasp in the past, become welcome portals that you understand readily. This marvellous artist reveals his workflow to create amazing, witty and engaging caricatures using Adobe Photoshop. Masks and the Liquify Effect are the core of this - and it's a joy to behold.

When I see art that catches my eye, I'll often think two things:

  1. What is it about the image or animation that lights up my creative brain and engages my eye
  2. How was it made, and do I have the skills to recreate such a work?

On this last point, as evidenced on materials I've posted on my website, often it's in trying to recreate an artist's work that I learn techniques or go and learn how to do something I'm unfamiliar with. And more often than not, it just goes to increase my admiration for the wonderful digital artists out there, many whom I'm sure learned skills and techniques from previous generations, or were inspired by their works (such as the great Constructivist school).

Whilst studying the fantastic graphic below, I thought just for this blog it might be interesting to note the various lines that make up the composition, and the relationships between them. There are strong diagonal lines made by the flag poles at 118 degrees, with a column on textural content at a perfect perpendicular angle of 28 degrees (118 - 90). Bursting out to the right are radial lines forming almost sunbeams of content - planes and text affected by perspective. Into this are placed the strong figures of a pilot, and engineer perhaps, and 3 standard bearers, aswell as some references to music etc. 

In the cyclist illustration below that, I just wanted to see how the lines flow - and it was a lovely exercise then to use the Live Paint Tool to colour in the graceful shapes, drawing a bounding rectangle on the artboard just to complete all the outer paths.


constructionist copy analysis


cyclist abstract

Today I watched a few very fast speed YouTube videos of artists showing their workflow and techniques. Trying to watch these in the past, I was pretty bewildered by the speed whilst trying to understand what was going on and the tools being used.

Thankfully today, I watched and understood ... and could anticipate often the next moves. So I felt on my blog I would record these displays of artistic & technical brilliance, their significance, and I very much seek to practise and incorporate these techniques into my own workflow.

Having just written about Scanimate and the origins of Motion Graphics in the 70s and 80s and the stunning visuals which defined the look of a generation, here for the 20th anniversary of Photoshop is a short LinkedIn Learning documentary on capturing that 80s vibe in a commemorative poster using today's Adobe Creative Suite.

I learned to much in watching this - not least watching the process from start to finish, and why the artist is doing each step to perfect a visual final achiemenet. 

And in it is the useful reminder - which we keep needing to hear - to start drawing on paper and thinking things through, and not just jumping onto the computer and ultimately wasting time (but kidding on you're productive). 

James White's Laser Horse Illustration: Start to Finish - Film from James White's Laser Horse Illustration: Start to Finish by James White

Page 2 of 3