Growing up long before either the Internet, Free View, YouTube or Netflix were a thing... my favourite visual treat in the weekly schedule were the Saturday afternoon TV cartoons. Typically, these were of the classic mid 20th century Tom and Jerry/ Bugs Bunny/ Daffy Duck genre. The lush smooth animation style was so labour intensive - but I didn't care (or know about that) as a kid - it was my perfect idea of a cartoon.

During the school holidays - the diet was different. Laurel and Hardy offerings were unbeatable - but then would come cartoons of a quite different visual and animation style - the 60s/70s Pink Panther is ingrained in my memory. I really didn't like them as a kid - they seemed weird & quirky, the drawing wasn't lush but jagged, simplified, angular and jerky. 

But hey, one of the things about getting a bit older is that your tastes change, your character grows. So when perusing one of my illustration example books, I was strangely taken by the graphics of Sean Sims, particularly this car driver (which inspired me to try and recreate it).  It was a super education on how efficient this style is - and actually just how beautiful the "construction lines" are. 

Apart from the style, on a technical basis in Adobe Illustrator I found great use in the "draw inside" mode as a really useful tool - in the hat, the scarf and the trousers. Another useful technique was using a very subtle Roughen Effect on things like the side grills and and bag in the back. 

I really got a lot out of tackling this work - technically and artistically. Maybe I should give the quirky Pink Panther another chance after all :) 

One of my most frequented websites,  Digital Arts Online, recently showcased designs by digital artist Bruno Mangyoku

I so admired one of his works (the last one the series on that website if I recall), that I thought it would be a challenge to make an attempt to reproduce parts of it, so I might try and learn from this graphic master.

It so happens, that I so enjoyed that task of examining that piece that I kept going .... and as I did, I felt my knowledge of Adobe Illustrator consolidated and expanded. Clipping masks really came to the fore. Also swatches - I used the defined colour book "desaturated" to replicate the muted palette. With really organic details, like the lips, using Blend Modes and Opacity really helped merge some of these muted desaturated colours.  

The painting mode "within bounds" (analogous to Clipping masks) really helped with the glasses frames and the headphones. The Blob Brush was great to use within these bounds. With the headphones, as with the subject's jumper, the Shape Builder tool came to the fore, creating sub-shapes from taking the volume outline and dividing it by pen lines (Pen Tool).

The hair highlight details were created using the brushes I defined as detailed in "Jackie K" after Jeffrey Everett

This Jeffrey Everett piece was designed to promote a tour by the comedian David Cross. I adore Everett's style and skill, his use of feathering to soften the boundaries between highlight/ mid-tone/ shadow.

Saturated Colour Version

When I saw the original graphic work of Andrew Painter from London in one of my graphics books, I felt compelled to try drawing one of his characters in Adobe Illustrator

Not only is the graphic style superb, but he also manages to naturally capture motion and a sense of character

Line weight was important, giving solidity to the outline form in the black, and uniting the whole with the outer white line (which also makes the character "pop" against most backgrounds). Layers were structured along the lines of: head, hair, body, hands, face details, body details.

Initially, my idea was to add a white stroke (3pt) to each "body volume" (head, body, hair), but soon realised this separated each body part. So I copied each of these main shapes, placed them together on their own layer, expanded the appearance of each, and united them with Pathfinder. It was this large shape on a low lying layer, that received a 3pt white stroke, giving the desired effect.
The other technique I used to form separate hands from the body shape, was to place a straight line across each arm where I wished the separation with the Pen tool, then simply clicked the hand using the Shape Builder tool.

 With the monochrome palette of the character, and the white bold outline, this character seemed to work well with many different background colours.

 

When I saw the original design by Paul Wearing, I just thought it would be fun to try and replicate in part. I wondered if the Blend tool in Adobe Illustrator was the thing to use - and it certainly was.

The other handy Illustrator device was using clipping masks to contain the blended lines. The artist made amazing use of very minimal forms to express area and different feelings of weight. The eye motif was formed using the Curved Line tool and then reflected in the horizontal, the Join Lines tool knit the anchor points together, that all that reflected again in the vertical. The inner path was made in the same manner, then both paths combined into a Compound Shape.

Recently I took a visit to the Salvation Army depot on Dumbarton Road, where they raise money be selling pre-loved furniture, clothes and lots of interesting things. I picked up a few graphic design volumes to get inspiration and to see the different styles used by artists. I love clean vectors with interplay of negative space, so I wanted to try recreating this lovely graphic. I am fairly happy at how it turned out. It is from Contact Creative Illustration, 28th edition.

The original is by stunning artist Chris Mitchell FCSD, his work for the brand icon of Bohemia Beer. I used colour palette extracted from a local street poster.
To make the sides of the main contour and that of the highlight/ shadow the same, I experimented duplicating the main shape (highlight on top), and performing Pathfinder: Divide with the two shapes selected. As it likely forms a group, ungroup and select the overlap of the top shape, and delete it, leaving a perfect shared edge. 

Jeffrey Everett is a brilliant artist. His skill is indisputable, and his style is one which I love and would seek to emulate.

In this example, my main focus was on developing Adobe Illustrator brushes that can "feather" shapes in an almost an engraving style. The strong blocks of colour with these line details are so suited to Illustrator, and come across as sleek and modern.
I altered the colours slightly, and introduced Ben-Day dots to give a comic book feel.

The work was started by tackling the more detail-defining layer in blue. The I would lock that layer and create a new one under it, labelled Pink. A 3rd level uses a crudely marked out base white shape for the face and body, which in had a final background layer beneath (the Ben-Day dots).

I created 3 artist brushes based on one shape - a narrow ellipse with left and right anchor points turned to sharp corners by changing the join style. Once I had a good medium brush with the settings shown in the screen grab below, I copied it twice and changed the min and max settings to make a thinner brush and a thicker brush. That worked really well, and allowed me to tackle this project which I have long since wished to try out.

I am very pleased with the result, but even more joyous about all that I learned by doing it!

Brush Settings

This was how the medium brush was set up

 

This was a quick illustration - practise in using the pencil tool and the blob brush in Adobe Illustrator. I slightly rushed the hands, but I was more interested in the shirt - using blend layers and opacity to create a layered slightly water colour effect. The map was fun to create - the land level was made using the pen tool, the "extruded" side was done really quickly with the blob brush on the immediate layer below - a nice hand drawn effect. The shadow of the body on the map again is a layer with a black-filled shape, blend mode was multiply and opacity set around 40%. This is a recreation of a piece that caught my eye which I saw on the Internet and I admired the style, which is often found in current news print media.

This style of simple, colourful illustration is a current favourite of print media. I saw this original design and wished to recreate it to discover some of the techniques used. As well as the simple flowing lines and shapes, there is interesting use of gradient in areas, and also "noise" or texture to break up the large areas of colour and to add subtle interest. 

A girl with laptop in the simple media article style. Two subtle use of gradients - one on the neck that goes from the face tone to a darker version, and also a metallic gradient on the components of the laptop.

Czech Art Nouveau painter and decorative artist Alphonse Mucha is a huge inspiration to me. I've wanted to examine his style and just how he creates these marvellous designs which seems to have given birth to the exciting Art Nouveau style. Drawn with Adobe Illustrator by me.

What I found most satisfying was finding a way to draw the hair - using the Pen tool and then varying the width. Those strokes were then expanded into shapes, which in turn could be assigned a stroke. Before that last step, a pathfinder join on those shapes created the mesh.