Articles by Month: April 2011
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you… The April 2011 Go Media Flickr Pool Showcase (dramatic music, such as this on repeat for instance, is to be played in the background while reading this sentence)!
Once again, yours truly went through the 9430+ items of the pool from 1709 members (as I’m writing this) to extract the good stuff. Which is hard, since I sometimes would love to be able to post all of the pool, because 99% of it would deserve a spot here.
Et voilà! I hope you enjoy this month’s selection as much as I enjoyed making it.
Go Media president Bill Beachy sits down to give you some daily inspiration and advice. Bill shares his years of experience building Go Media into the company it is today. Topics in this video series include Getting Started, Happiness, Humility, Patience, Flow, Focus, Productivity, Business Systems, Courage, Eating Well, Obstacles, and Creativity.
For more information about Bill Beachy, check out his bio on gomedia.us. Bill is currently accepting opportunities to speak at your event, university, or business.
Sponsored by Weapons of Mass Creation
The Daily Inspiration video series is brought to you by WMC Fest – a grassroots event put on by Go Media to inspire and enable the creative mind. It takes place in Cleveland, OH on June 11 and 12, 2011 and will feature 20 speakers, 20 bands, and 20 designers in what aims to be the premier event for artists/designers in the midwest.
Hope you enjoy the video!
Or download the podcast
Hi, Philip Hepler here from 316 Graphics. A few weeks prior to writing this, Jeff Finley and I discussed possibilities for the next Arsenal vector pack. We decided to concept some hot rod elements which later turned into a vector set inspired by the art style of Ed “Big Daddy” Roth. Here’s the design process for this fun vector pack.
For the record, here’s my list of tools I’m working with:
- Plain copy paper
- “col-erase” blue pencils
- Mechanical pencil (.9)
- Light table
- Intuos Wacom tablet
- Adobe Illustrator CS5
- Inexpensive scanner/copier/printer
- 27” iMac
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Since we wanted to be inspired the art style of Ed Roth I did a Google image search for inspiration. I also checked out the official Ed Roth web site ratfink.com. Rat Fink was an anti-Mickey mascot that represented Roth’s attitude and style in the 50’s and 60’s. I always get sucked in to learning more about the artist, and in this case, ended up spending some time checking out his crazy car creations and wild monster hot rod themed illustrations. I ended up with four or five key examples of his work which I printed out and pasted above my drawing table for inspiration. Next I did a little brainstorming and made a list of possible elements for this theme. Some of the elements on my list were chrome pipes, flames, smoking tires, gear shifters, flying eyeballs, and Hot Rod Monsters of course!
PUTTING PENCIL TO PAPER
Next I took the strongest elements on my list and did a rough sketch of each, constantly referencing my inspiration images and imagining how those elements should look in this art style. I’m in the habit of using col-erase pencils to rough sketch my ideas on plain copy paper. The light blue lead of these pencils help me stay loose and general with my sketch so I can get the basic look right and leave the details for the next step. Then I draw over the blue sketch with a mechanical pencil to refine it more and add more detail.
I also use a light box and a fresh sheet of paper to refine and clean up my sketch even further if necessary. With my rough sketch ideas on paper I scanned and saved them as a pdf file and sent them off to Jeff to see what he thought of the elements so far. He replied back quickly that he was digg’n the elements, but also had a great suggestion to make multiple monster heads and facial features as separate elements. This would allow users to make their own Hot Rod Monster “Mr. Potato Head” style with mix and match parts. What a great idea! Now I was really getting excited.
WHAT’S YOUR VECTOR VICTOR?
With Jeff’s feedback and suggestions I did a few more rough element sketches and decided it was time to color them up in Illustrator. I scanned my revised sketches and placed each scan into my Illustrator file on a background template layer. For the more organic shapes of the monster features I used the brush tool with a 3 pt. round calligraphy brush and set the diameter setting to Pressure with a Variation of 3 pt. For the longer smooth strokes and more mechanical elements I used a custom art brush with rounded ends. Using my trusty Wacom tablet, I traced my sketches, trying to emulate the hand inked look of Roth’s illustrations.
Tip: instead of making multiple brushes of different widths for your graphic, you can adjust the thickness of individual brush stroke paths by increasing the stroke weight in the stroke palette. This is a quick way to get variable stroke weights in your graphic without having to duplicate and modify multiple brushes in your brush palette. See the video link below if I’ve lost you.
I also used the Blob Brush tool to fill in larger areas like the monster’s mouths and some quick irregular shapes and details. Feeling good about how the elements looked, I saved another pdf of the vector elements, sent it to Jeff for review, and hoped for the best.
WRAPPING IT UP
Thankfully Jeff loved the elements and how the vector pack turned out! But before I could send him the files I needed to clean up the elements and make everything nice and neat. First I saved a new copy of the file and then selected each element and expanded the appearance of the brush stokes to create objects (Object-Expand Appearance). With all the brush strokes now converted to black filled objects, I used the Unite function to make the objects one shape (Pathfinder window-Unite). For vector pack art like this, uniting the artwork as one shape makes cleaner, neater elements to work with. Just in case I need to go back and adjust or modify something later, I can always go back to my previous file where my brush strokes are still “live” and editable.
Live brush strokes
Brush strokes expanded to objects
Expanded objects united as one composite path.
GOT ALL THAT?
Here’s a video of how one of the elements was drawn in Illustrator, the brush settings I used, and the method to my madness!
I would like to thank Jeff Finley and Go Media for the opportunity to work on this latest vector pack release. It was a lot of fun to draw and I hope it will come in handy for one of your future projects!
This post was written by:
I’m the man behind the curtain at 316 Graphics, a full time freelance graphic art studio specializing in apparel graphics. The emphasis of my work is on hand drawn illustrations and the ability to adapt to a multitude of art styles and looks. Check out 316Graphics.com to view my portfolio, inspiration section, and freebie downloads. I live and work in Thomasville, NC (home of the big chair), love classic cars, and drink a gallon of southern sweet tea every day.
There must be something about digital type that we don’t like.
We put a lot of energy into distressing, aging, texturizing, and simulating letterpress techniques with digital type. There are a lot of cool techniques out there. So here I am, sharing yet another one that’s really good for distressing specific parts of letters that are subject to more wear & tear.
We’ll be using Photoshop and digging into layer masks & scatter brushes.
But first, let me show you an example of what we’re trying to achieve.
Okay, so a couple of things about the way this type looks that I can’t achieve using regular techniques:
- The distressing is not even. This is not just noise or a texture overlay.
- The outlines are not straight. Actual distortion of the letterform edge, from peeling, erosion, ink bleed, or whatever.
- Certain parts of the letter seem more vulnerable to wear & tear. This makes sense I guess.
Step 1: Prep your type
Create a document, 1000×500 pixels. Fill the background with #22202c. Make a text box, type something clever in #eae7e0, and rasterize the type with applied FX.
If you’re curious, here are my type settings:
Unviers LT Std, 49 light ultra condensed
Layer effects: 7px #eae7e0 stroke, from center
Now let’s do some standard pre-grunge type tricks that I learned from Jeff Finley’s Wacom Illustration Video Tutorial. Blur the rasterized text by 1px. Now use smart sharpen with a 0.8px radius and at 140%. Remember these blur and sharpen numbers will depend on the size / resolution of your document.
Now let’s distort the edges of the text a little bit. Go to filter>distort>ripple, and choose a small ripple with a 22% amount. The edges should ever so slightly ripple. Here’s what mine looks like now:
Step 2: Make a grunge scatter brush
This is the brush we’ll be using to paint away distressing on the type.
Open up your brush panel and check “Shape Dynamics”, “Scattering”, “Noise”, and “Smoothing”. This is gonna be a nasty brush! Push the sliders for Size Jitter (in Shape Dynamics) and Scatter up & down until you get a brush preview similar to the one you see here.
I generally like to keep my main brush very small & soft, usually between 1-4 pixels and 0% hardness.
Hit “D” on your keyboard to reset your foreground & background colors to default black & white. This means your brush will be black, which is what we want.
If you just swipe the brush around a little bit, you’ll see you’re now “painting noise”. Perfect!
Step 3: Paint the type mask with the scatter brush
Make sure your layer mask is selected, and use your brush tool to paint inside this mask. Black pixels hide the rasterized type layer, and white pixels show it. The mask starts out all white.
As you paint in your wear & tear, think about the letters as physical objects. What parts look subject to distressing? Call to mind rusty old street signs and roadside ice cream shacks. Vary the size of your brush between 1 and 5 pixels. Use larger brushes for the edges of the letters. Use a little more distressing in areas that seem especially ‘rippled’.
See how the mask I’m painting looks noisy, like the brush preview above?
Just keep painting until you get a degree of distressing that suits you. I tend to prefer very mild distressing. Just enough to get the looker’s subconscious to think “not digital”. Be sure to make each letter different. That’s kind of the whole idea of this approach: more custom than a distressed font.
Cool, huh?! Once you do it a few times, this technique isn’t much harder than overlaying a texture – and it looks a lot better to me.
We’re basically done here, but I’ll add in a paper texture to make our image more closely match the “SHHH” image.
That’s it! Thanks for reading this quick tip, and let me know if you have ideas to take the technique further.
Once again, if you’d like to see your work here, the only thing you have to do is to submit it in our Flickr pool. If you have and it’s not featured, keep trying!
Also, you will obviously see a bunch of posters inspired by the disaster that happened in Japan earlier this month. We’d just like to remind you that every cent counts in helping them fund the relief effort. James from Signalnoise conveniently listed some of the organizations that you can donate to to help:
Canada: Text REDCROSS to 30333 to donate $10
USA: Text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10
Ireland: Text REDCROSS to 57500 to donate €5
And a quick conclusion note: thank you for posting artwork that’s amazing month after month. It’s so great to browse through this collection and so hard to choose from it!