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advanced photoshop
Aug
5

15 Illustration Tips and Tricks: Part 1

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Tips & Tutorials, by The Advanced Photoshop Team

Artists in the industry share their secrets to using Photoshop in order to enhance their illustrations, which range from editorial work to packaging and high profile advertising

1 – Invest in a concept

15 Illustration Tips and Tricks: Part 1

To promote DJ sessions performed by the electronic music label Black Book Sessions, Vicente Garcia Morillo created the Alive Objects series, which aimed to encapsulate the elements that represented artists and present them as if they were just one entity: “In this case, I was playing with the combination of elements that represent two of the most popular musicians in Chicago and the L.A. scene, respectively. The first step is always to conceptualise the piece. I consider this one of the most important phases of the development process as this is the base of the piece. I like to invest all the time that’s necessary to come up with a good idea. Once I have the concept, I start doing sketches of the composition on paper and also the analogue elements, such as drawing and painting, in case I want to add them to the final composition. I create all the vector elements in Adobe Illustrator and then import and edit them in Photoshop, fitting them together like a jigsaw. I then apply effects like gradients, layer styles, shadows and noise. Photoshop is a very powerful and versatile tool. I like to experiment and mix different methods and software on my projects, adding some analogue elements like pencil drawings to my artworks when I get the opportunity to do so. I usually play with Photoshop to edit the compositional elements and finish my pieces, but I avoid photographic finishes as I like to keep an illustrated element to my work.”

 

2 – Manage shadows and highlights

15 Illustration Tips and Tricks: Part 1

Diego L. Rodriguez set about creating options for HBO’s How To Make It In America and drew on inspiration from the Big Apple: “Once I presented this idea, the agency loved it and they gave me green light to create the poster. The brief came with some promotional images for the second season of the show. They were good, but not exactly what I had in mind. However, having the figure of Kid Cudi as a graphic inspired me to gather extra material. I had the structure clear: start with the character’s portrait, then the body had to be connected to the buildings in some way, and New York’s iconic symbols, and finally the slogan below the illustration. For the New York buildings, I had a ton of pictures that I took when I spent some time in the city in 2009. I use a specific technique to manage shadows and highlights. I started using this method years ago for high-end retouching in people’s skin or objects and then applied it to manipulations and illustration work. Create a new layer above your illustration. Go to Edit>Fill>50% Gray and click OK. Put this grey layer in Soft Light mode and reduce the Opacity to 30-50%. Take a soft brush, with Opacity 30-70%, and paint in those zones where you would like to increase the shadows or highlights using only grayscale tones. This technique is similar to the Dodge and Burn tools, but allows more control over certain zones without affecting the main layer.”
 

3 – Paint your illustration

15 Illustration Tips and Tricks: Part 1

15 Illustration Tips and Tricks: Part 1

15 Illustration Tips and Tricks: Part 1

Concept artist and illustrator Andrea Femerstrand regularly contributes editorial illustrations to short stories in magazines aimed at younger readers. This piece was created for a short story in Swedish kids and teen magazine KP (short for KamratPosten): “There’s always a section in there where young readers’ stories are published. Usually, they’re around 10 to 14 years old. I use Photoshop for drawing and painting and do all my work from scratch, I would say the old fashioned way. Layers, custom-made brushes and adjustment layers make my work so much faster and more efficient. I don’t have many secrets; mostly, I just paint.”
 

4 – Make use of Actions

15 Illustration Tips and Tricks: Part 1

Commissioned to create 36 robot playing cards for kids magazine Bonbeck, Mark Verhaagen, the creative brain behind the hugely successful Zoobles toy line, had to build in originality and then deliver uniformity. “The challenge here,” says Mark, “was to create 36 different robots, each of them looking interesting as well. So I started sketching a lot of robots in my sketchbook, focusing on shape and character, bold versus fragile, round versus square shapes, etc. I had to think about how the robots would move and do things, which also helped to determine their looks. I tried to keep things simple, as there wasn’t a lot of time to work on the project and the final illustrations wouldn’t be that big. So all the robots and card designs were made in Adobe Illustrator using fairly basic shapes and shading.” Mark then turned to Photoshop for the final touches. To save time and to make sure each card looked the same, he recorded Actions and then used them as part his workflow. “I primarily used Photoshop for adding texture and a glow effect around the robots,” he explains. “As I was working with 36 different files, I saved a lot of time by using Actions for these things. I also used an automate batch Action to save the whole batch of files into different file formats.” The cards were featured in Bonbek magazine, where kids could cut out the different cards to play with. Later, an actual card game was produced as well.
 

5 – Work quickly with a tablet

15 Illustration Tips and Tricks: Part 1

Artist, illustrator and owner of The Orlin Culture Shop Brian Miller created Totes Adorbots, a two-hour style exploration in response to a call for ‘cute vintage robots’, for a potential picture book. “I worked start to finish in Photoshop CS6 using my Wacom Cintiq,” he tells us. “I use the Lasso to quickly create sharp edges where I need them. However, it’s the years of study, practice and exploration that are vital, no matter what tool or medium you’re using.”