Good news for green designers… e-cycling couldn’t be easier now that Staples is accepting electronic items for e-cycling at ALL their US branches! KAPLA!!! So next time your cel phone, keyboard, mouse, motherboard, or monitor blitzes out… you can drop it off at your local Staples and they’ll e-cycle it for you! They also will take your empty ink & tonor catridges off your hands! Check it out… (Read on …)
I think this is a fabulous idea… Rizco Design has created a green report card, with which they hold themselves accountable for the resources they consume in creating their design products. I can imagine including a green report card like the Beleaf Report Card, as an extra page in a PDF quote as a pledge to the client to keep the project green, or even as an extra page in a PDF invoice as a “green receipt” to the client reporting on the projects low impact on the environment. … I’m inspired to make something similar myself! (I promise I’ll share the template once I’m done)
© Heather Castles
Went to the market yesterday and bought some fruit… and I loved the curly tops on these pears! So I sketched them while watching a movie last night, then tinted them with colour in Photoshop this morning with a light layer of each green and yellow.
This great article by HOW gives designers the 101 on Sustainable Design in the Print Industry. I’ve copied a fair bit of it below, but you can read the entire “It’s Not Easy Being Green” at How , written by Constance J. Sidles, a Seattle Production Consultant. (BTW, love the Kermit reference, Constance!) (Read on …)
I took a couple snaps today and yesterday of my work in progress for Elizabeth Austin’s children’s book, The Brotherhood of the Stinky Underpants. The finals for this are to be in oils, and I tried a different set up this time. Instead of redrawing my sketches onto the illustration board (which takes a few hours,) I made copies of my sketches, printed them out, and glued them down onto the cold press illustration board. Then I painted a coat of polyeurathane to seal them. When working with oils on paper, the oil paint can over time eat away at the illustrations, so sealing them and then painting with acrylic for the underpainting keeps the oil paint from the paper and keeps the artwork from deteriorating.
Then I’ve gone over and painted in big blocks of colour with acrylic for the underpainting… feels like a really bad colour by number! But don’t fear… the more garish & crazy it looks at this stage, the better it will look in the end!
These colours are REALLY bright right now, because when I paint over with the oils the more toned down shades, I’ll leave those bits of bright colour peaking through at parts. It’s easier to start bright and dull back, rather than the other way around. It looks a bit messy at the moment, but it will add lovely texture to the illustrations.
© Heather Castles
This illustration technique me feels like I’m a little kid again and colouring in the lines! I really enjoy this style, as I can take my time with my B-pencil & smudge stick rendering an illustration… and then hop on the computer and create the final black & white and colour print-ready files respectively in a matter of minutes. It is an ideal style for creating a lot of illustrations in a short amount of time, as it achieves a traditional feel without the time involved in creating watercolour paintings.
The step-by-step process I follow to colour my illustrations in Photoshop is :
• Illustrate the character with a graphite pencil on bond paper (I like printer paper as it’s smooth and fits on the scanning bed!)
• Scan each illustrations at high resolution
• Create a Photoshop file for the character illustration
• Remove the character from the background and place it on its own layer, carefully removing the whitespace with a soft edged eraser tool or feathered magic wand selection (see below)
• Adjust the contrast
• Save out a flattened, grayscale version as a TIFF (I’ve set up an action to do this in Photoshop automatically for me)
(Read on …)
I’ve just completed the final character illustrations & map for the The James Family’s “Little Land Adventures : Book 1″ and am quite excited by the results! I had the challenge of the book being printed in both B&W and colour, and thought I’d try a technique I developed while at Image Craft Inc., of scanning my finished graphite pencil illustrations and colouring them in Photoshop. It’s a different feel to watercolour & coloured pencil… as the soft pencil drawings give it a sketchy texture, and the tint of colour gives the illustrations a nostalgic colour palette and feeling.
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Since yesterday’s post, Digital Verses Traditional Illustration, I had the question posted “Which is more advantageous to go digital or to stick with the traditional?”
That is a tough question! To be honest, I reckon nowadays, digital illustration opens more doors in more industries than traditional illustration does.
Like any “job,” it really depends on which industry one hopes to work in. The feeling I have is that digital illustration lends itself best towards application in graphic design, web, advertising, gaming, and the electronic industry… which is an enormous array of industries! Traditional illustrators I feel will become more rare just as artists are, and will have to find niche markets which prefer tactile illustration… publishing, gifts and home wares, fashion, small aspects of the gaming industry, graphic design in the print & packaging industry, fine art… all of which are far more competitive industries. Of course both digital and traditional illustration can find work in almost ANY industry, but these are the big trends I have noted.
Something else I’ve noticed is a lot of graphic designers are also digital illustrators, thus they have the skills to marry their digital illustration with their designs right from the start and can provide their clients / employers with a complete package. Companies who hire a graphic designer / digital illustrator may remove the need entirely to commission traditional illustration at all. A lot of traditional illustrators only provide the actual tactile artwork… leaving the scanning, colour correction, resizing, and final layout application in the hands of their clients–which also means leaving the costs of those service billed to their clients!
The convenience of not having to “wait” for the time it often takes to create traditional illustration is also in the digital illustrator’s favour… because once the work is done, the digital illustration can be dropped right into the layout / webpage. Whereas when traditional illustration is complete, it still has a whole “digital” process to go through to get it ready for it’s end application. So traditional illustrators who can not offer skills beyond their artwork may find they are being passed up for digital illustrators who are a “one-stop-shop” for the end client.
For me, my love of painting and with my awareness of needing food on the table spurred me on to go to school and be trained in both Graphic Design & illustration… so I entered the industry with both digital & traditional skill sets. I’ve found my digital skills complementary to my traditional illustration style… if I accidentally drip some coffee on an illustration just as I’ve finished painting, I’m not fretting because I can remove it in Photoshop! I still prefer paint for my illustration medium, and it works for me because the areas of the industry I’m most interested in prefer traditional illustration, too.
Thanks for the question, digital portrait artist at Portrait Kingdom, it’s such an interesting topic to explore!
My colleague, a web designer and digital illustrator, has taken up a life drawing class to improve his illustration skills. He’s a natural, and his digital illustrating skills transferred well to the life drawing environment as his eye was well trained to create some lovely pieces. His instructor centred him out and asked him if he’s done any lessons before because he’s talented. He modestly told her ‘No, but I’m a web designer, I do some digital illustration.’ And her response? “Oh, so nothing real then?”
That simple comment pinpoints the new attitude steadily developing in the illustration field… a snobbery of sorts, an underlying rivalry, a subtle attitude… a rift between digital and traditional illustrators. On one side of the line there are the “old school” illustrators, clinging to their pencils and brushes, their tacky palettes of colour unachievable in RGB, their stained clothes and chemical tarnished lungs, and the ability to put a tangible product in their client’s hot little hands. And on the other side of the line are the “newbies,” the growing mass of digital illustrators who prefer the smooth contours of the mouse beneath their fingers, the visually controlled crisp lines of vectorized graphics, the pixel perfect renderings and gradients achievable by their beloved macs and pc’s, the warm glow of their monitors, FTP transfers and digital proofs… and the security of Apple-Z.
With such different preferences for medium, is it a wonder that there is a growing anxiousness between illustrators on both sides of the line about where one’s place is? Which will dominate the illustration industry in the future? Which will be taken more seriously?
The fear that traditional illustrators have is that they will be phased out–that the timeless tradition of painting and drawing will become obsolete in the wave of kids who learn how to colour on the computer with their cute little mouse by the time they are three-years-old! Behind that is the real fear though… that traditional illustrators will be out of work, that no one wants traditional illustration anymore.
As an “old school” illustrator, I had those fears myself, and wondered if I should jump ship and ride the of digital illustration wave… but after evaluating what I do and where I want to go in my career, I realized that jumping ship at this point would be acting out of the fear. Then taking another step back, I realized that I don’t need to compete with digital illustrators for work… just as I don’t compete with comic book artists, or animators, or graphic designers, or any other type of artist who does something different to the style of artwork I do. I’ve come to really appreciate digital artwork, as it has made me focus on what makes my traditional artwork unique, and pushes me to keep learning and developing new styles in traditional mediums.
Disposable and Easy
There are some assumption about digital illustration that are a bit sad : that it is quicker and easier to create a digital illustration than a traditional illustration. Digital illustrators, though they may create amazing illustrations, aren’t taken as seriously as traditional painters because their work is digital, and it isn’t recognized as a ’serious’ medium.
I had an instructor once say to me that the tools don’t really matter as long as the final product is amazing… what does it matter if he decides to use his little finger to smudge some paint so it’s just right, just because it’s not a paintbrush doesn’t mean it isn’t art! The same is with digital illustration… the end product can be amazing depending on the artist, not the medium. Digital is just another ‘medium’ of illustration, just another tool with its own benefits and drawbacks, another style, another movement… it is many things, but it is not the demise of traditional illustration!
The attitude that digital illustration isn’t “real” is fast changing… just as the photography industry has finally embraced digital photography, it won’t be long before fine-digital-art is being honored in museums and art galleries.
Supply and Demand
On the flip side of the coin, the attitude that digital art isn’t taken seriously because it isn’t a rare commodity is much more true. Unfortunately, when something can be created in mass quantities at a low cost (and there isn’t any lower cost than hitting Apple-C!) it is no longer seen as a rare-commodity.
Because ‘digital’ is the original form of the artwork (light pixels generated from binary 0’s and 1’s in your computer) it means that ANYONE can have the original work of art if they can get their hands on the digital file. The Mona Lisa is a priceless work of art because it is the only one… nothing can replicate it, it’s one-of-a-kind.
Whereas a work of digital art can be recreated an unlimited number of times and still be identical to the original down to the last pixel. So digital illustrators may have a supply & demand issue on their hands as far as fine-digital-art goes, making it difficult to attach a pricey tag to digital art reproductions sold in a gallery setting. It will be interesting to see how digital illustrators overcome this hurdle in years to come!
There are plenty of avenues for both traditional & digital illustrators to follow without even competing with each other for work :
Children’s book publishers seek out traditional illustrators for children’s books, as there is a warmth and tactile quality that is difficult (but not impossible) to achieve with digital illustration. They tend to prefer traditional illustrators as it visually stimulates the children with something different than what they see when playing video games, playing on the computer and watch on Saturday morning cartoons.
Greeting card companies rely heavily on traditional illustrators as the majority of the market who buy greeting cards are women who are drawn to sentimental imagery… but that being said, vectorized illustrations are fast replacing the ‘cartoon’ humour style cards and there is always a need for bright and graphic cartoon humour cards.
The video game industry relies heavily on digital illustrators, as images created digitally have a much smaller file size than a scanned piece of art would be… and because the end result needs to be married with the code to run the game, a small file size is essential. So illustrators who specialize in rendering and textures are in high demand in the gaming industry. But, traditional illustrators are still able to delve into this industry, as their skills are sought after for concept, character, and background art.
Website development relies heavily on digital illustration for graphics, icons, illustrations, logos, etc. Similar to the video game industry, small file size is essential…and digital illustrations can be reduced to only a few kilobytes in size without compromising the quality, or looking ‘pixely.’ Traditional illustrations, when properly scanned and saved for web use, are frequently used… but it is more common for traditional illustrations to be purchased as stock images rather than commissioned directly for a website.
Graphic design firms rely on both digital and traditional illustrators for printed packaging, books, brochures, business cards, signage, etc…
Advertising firms use storyboard artists to illustrate their concepts, which they in turn pitch to clients. Traditional illustrators using pen & marker, or digital illustrators using wacom tablet and Photoshop, can easily work side-by-side in this industry.
Architectural firms also marry digital & traditional illustration when creating a ‘rendered’ illustration of a building… illustrators on staff render an illustration of what the final building will look like with landscaping and people walking about… and this can be done either on the computer or with paintbrush on paper.
A Happy Medium
Traditional & Digital illustrators can benefit by taking a feather from each other’s caps.
Traditional illustrators can embrace the digital side of illustration and marry it with their illustration style. They can add to their repertoire of skills the ability to scan and colour correct high-resolution files to provide to their clients, rather than packaging up the final artwork and posting it off. They can learn to touch up their artwork in Photoshop, or add a little extra bleed around the edges for their client. They can experiment with different techniques of digital illustration.
Digital illustrators can learn to get a little dirty ;) Drawing from life is an excellent way of developing illustration skills. Learning how to see light as it is in real life, rather than relying on what the Photoshop filters can do for you. Starting sketches on paper first, and then rendering the final artwork on the computer screen will result in more dynamic and fluid digital illustrations. Learning how to use one traditional art medium (pencil, paint, sculpture) will broaden their appreciation for texture and colour application beyond what Pantone’s latest digital swatch library offers.
Staying in touch
I spend most of my time at work staring at a computer screen with my fingers typing away on a keyboard and mouse. So I find it a real release, and feel ‘alive’ drawing and painting, creating something visual and tactile from graphite, water, clay, or plant matter. I reckon while embracing the digital age, illustrators should keep in touch with that human side of being an artist, and keep that relationship between pencil and paper alive.
Here are the final sketches for Elizabeth Austin’s children’s book, The Brotherhood of the Stinky Underpants. I’m pretty excited about starting the final illustrations on these, as the story is pretty fun, and Elizabeth was great to work with having a lot of cute suggestions for the illustrations along thee way as well. The final illustrations are going to be in oil over an acrylic underpainting on illustration board…should be fun! I’ll post again once I’ve got the underpainting done.