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advanced photoshop
Aug
18

Design a longboard graphic in Photoshop

Posted in:
General, by Adam Smith

Combine hand-drawn sketches with digital techniques

The longboarding scene is big, so to stay competitive, companies always need to produce innovative designs.

Boarders will always prefer to have something good-looking that stands out from the rest, rather than having an ugly board under their feet.

Graphics also help to create brand identity, which is why customers like designs that have personality.

The example here is the design for the Landyachtz Chinook 2012.

You’ll find out how to combine traditional hand-drawn sketches with the possibilities of Photoshop.

Produce an initial sketch

Start with a simple pencil sketch as a rough layout. Always use reference photos, but for a piece like this you can also work freehand.

We’re not planning on creating something realistic here, so try whatever you want and just create a broad impression of a lion. Always attempt to keep your work symmetrical at this stage.

Design a longboard graphic in Photoshop

Lay out one half of the piece

Now scan in the sketch and open it in Photoshop. Since the design is based on symmetry, we’ll only need to create one half of the detailed drawing.

The challenge is to correctly set it up. Erase one half, copy the other one, mirror it and put them together. Correct every part that doesn’t look good, then erase one half again until the result works.

Design a longboard graphic in Photoshop

Divide the sketch

Print your (half) layout at an A4 size and trace it on a new piece of paper using a pencil.

This next part all comes down to style. You can split the piece in a way that looks pleasing – there are no real rules here.

Keep in mind that some parts are more important than others, like the eyes and mouth. These should be accentuated.

Design a longboard graphic in Photoshop

Refine the final layout

Using the sketch, you can now start to prepare the detailed sections. Retrace all the single pencil lines with a black fine-liner (0.3mm), while trying to stay as clean as possible.

Don’t rush this, as sometimes fine-liners take a few moments to dry. Every mistake made will have to be corrected later in Photoshop, so it’s advisable to be patient at this point.

After you’ve traced your sketch, erase the overlapping pencil lines.

Design a longboard graphic in Photoshop

Fill the fragments

Working with fine-liners sized at 0.03-1mm, you can start to fill all the single fragments.

Again, this is a matter of taste. Here we’re using different kinds of hatching everywhere, but the same thing would work using dots, circles, waves or whatever you prefer.

What’s vital is that you create different shades of grey, because that’s what gives depth to the drawing. Try not to use the same pattern on two parts that are next to each other.

Design a longboard graphic in Photoshop

Finalise Outlines

To finish, you need to emphasise the outlines of every single fragment, as well as the lion itself. This should help accentuate the skull against the mane.

You can also correct little mistakes made while hatching by covering them up in black. While a fat outline may help to keep the whole drawing together, it often also adds a street art look.

Changing the thickness of the outlines in some places will also make the drawing more dynamic.

Design a longboard graphic in Photoshop

Turn your drawing digital

After finishing your drawing, scan it at 800dpi. Always keep in mind that it may be necessary to resize the image later, so it’s best to work with larger files now rather than needing a better resolution afterwards.

Since no colour information is needed here, greyscales are enough. Now open your file in Photoshop and adjust its contrast by applying a Curves adjustment (Cmd/Ctrl+M).

This way you should get the paper almost plain white, while the drawing should be black.

Design a longboard graphic in Photoshop

Prepare to mirror

Now you can remove any dirt that appears on the scanned images. Here, it’s useful to invert the drawing (Cmd/Ctrl+I), as this will help you spot stains (white on black is easier to see than black on white, at least on screens).

You can now use the simple Brush tool to remove some flaws. After this, use the Burn/Dodge tool (O) in case there are some shades of grey.

Finally, change the canvas size so that there’s enough space for the whole graphic.

Design a longboard graphic in Photoshop

Finalise the drawing

Now remove the overlapping parts at your central line. Copy your layer, mirror it and change the blending mode to Multiply.

You may need to redo this a few times if the original drawing is not at a perfect 180-degree angle. When done, put both layers together exactly pixel to pixel and reduce them to one layer.

Design a longboard graphic in Photoshop

Cut out the drawing

This is a process used a lot in these projects. Select everything by hitting Cmd/Ctrl+A, copy this, add a mask to your layer and click on it while holding Opt/Alt.

This way you’ll remain inside your mask, where you’ll paste your drawing.

Invert the whole thing and you should see a white drawing on a black background. Leave the mask and return to your layer. Fill the canvas with black, hit Cmd/Ctrl+G, then Cmd/Ctrl+E and your drawing should be cut out.

Design a longboard graphic in Photoshop

Add the main colour

While the final graphic should have strong colours, here we’ll keep it down to just two main tones: turquoise/green and yellow. Use different grades of green to fill the lion’s head by selecting the space surrounding the drawing.

Invert this selection (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+I) and go to Select>Modify>Contract. Depending of the size of your drawing, about 5 pixels should be enough.

Create a new layer below the drawing and fill the selection with a selected tone.

Design a longboard graphic in Photoshop

Use different grades

Now lock the opacity of your layer in the Layers palette. This way it’s easier to work without watching for the exact outlines of the graphic all the time.

Now fill all the fragments using different tones of green, maybe almost some shades of grey to the different parts of your drawing.

Think about where you could include darker colours and where injecting some lights might help achieve depth. You can use the simple Brush tool with a graphics tablet for this.

Design a longboard graphic in Photoshop

Accent the details

Now the second colour comes in. Here we’ve used a very warm, almost orange, yellow. It’s complementary to the green tone, which helps the eyes stick out a lot.

This should be used very subtly, without overdoing the effect. Of course, it’s still best to use different grades and even add a bit of red surrounding the eyes.

This is something you have to practise a bit to really get a feeling for what works and looks good in the end.

Design a longboard graphic in Photoshop

Layer on the shading

To give the design a little bit more depth, it’s a good idea to add some shadows. Create another layer on top of the colours, but beneath the drawing.

Now apply the Brush tool again, setting its Opacity to 30%. You can either use just plain black, or different shades of dark green. As ever, this is just a matter of taste, so there are no limitations at this stage.

In this piece, we worked especially around the skull to accent it further against the mane.

Design a longboard graphic in Photoshop

Design a longboard graphic in Photoshop