Continuing with this week's inspiration theme, I'm loving this Grunge Brush tutorial from design.tutsplus.com. Grunge brushes are a great way to bring dimension into your CAD art work, creating a more painterly and less "flat" look.
tutsplus.com is a great resource of free tutorials. I've found that there's nothing like a tutorial for revealing the potential in the complicated CAD programs I sometimes simultaneously love and hate.
For sketching I mostly just use loose pieces of computer paper and a pencil on a clipboard. I have a tendency to make the sketches really tiny then fill up all the remaining blank spaces on the page (front and back) with various sketches for other things. The fox and spy dog sketches I’m including were done within a few days of each other so they were on the same piece and side of paper.
When I’m making characters or icons with a theme, I usually have a really strong idea of the design I want to do and sketch all the pieces out at once. When I’m doing botanicals or a geometric based idea, I try to be more free with the shapes and placement while sketching and I will fill up more of the page. There are times when I only have the beginnings of the idea which I take into Illustrator and experiment with. Or I make a design and once it’s in Illustrator I realize I don’t like it as much as I thought I did and then mess around with it there.
I also keep a small notebook in my bag in case I need to write a note or draw a quick shape to remind myself of an idea later, but I don’t do any real sketching in it.
I don’t use any of my actual sketches in my artwork, they’re really just there as a map of what I want to do and to make sure I know exactly how I plan to draw a certain object. After I sketch on paper, I re-draw everything in Illustrator using a Wacom tablet. It’s actually a lot quicker for me to just re-draw something than to scan and trace. I’ve also created a custom set of brushes based on my hand done drawings that help expedite this process.
Once I have my shapes I smooth out the edges, adjust anchor points, and pick a color palette. Sometimes the color palette is a bigger inspiration for the direction of what I’m doing and I will pick that out before I even start sketching. After the drawing is done and the colors are set in Illustrator, I move everything over to Photoshop and start painting to add texture and shading (also done with custom brushes) . I sometimes change the colors once I’m in Photoshop but I try to get that part out of the way in Illustrator. The painting step isn’t always necessary since my drawings could be considered finished in Illustrator, but I like the dimension a painted texture can add.
I do occasionally paint with watercolors or use Faber Castel markers but I almost never use any of these scans in my finished work. At least not at the moment anyway. They’re usually just for fun or sketching purposes.
Have you ever tried using textures in your designs? They are a great way to add interest without adding motifs to a design. I like to use textures from www.cgtextures.com. They have tons of free textures for download as well as lots of tutorials.
Image 1 (Before texture is applied)
Below is an example of how I applied texture to Image 1 (created in Photoshop).
I used two textures downloaded from CGTextures:
1. The first is found in Marble:Other, and is MarbleOther0001 (Texture #3195)
2. The second is found in Fabric:PlainFabric, and is FabricPlain0027
I downloaded the largest images in both instances.
Back in my Photoshop image....
Step 1 - Marble Texture:
I created a new layer and moved it to the top of the layers palette. I then pasted the Marble texture into the new layer and set it to "overlay" mode. I resized the texture to fit my image (I did not try to tile or repeat it). I created a “curves” adjustment layer and a “hue/saturation” adjustment layer, to take down the contrast and remove the color in the Marble texture. I clipped both of these adjustment layers to the Marble texture layer (so that the adjustment layers only apply to the Marble layer).
Step 2 - Fabric Texture
Next I created another layer, moved it to the top of the layers palette, and pasted in the fabric texture, setting the layer to “soft light” mode. I resized the texture to fit my image (I did not try to tile or repeat it). I created a “hue/saturation” adjustment layer to remove all the color. I did not need a curves adjustment layer for this texture because there was not a lot of contrast. I clipped the adjustment layer to the fabric texture layer.
Step 3 - Group the Textures
Finally, I created a new group and placed both the Marble layer and the Fabric layer in the group (along with their respective adjustment layers). I placed the group at the top of the layer palette (above my original Image 1 design layers). I set the new texture group to “pass through” mode.
Image 2 (After texture is applied)
The result is Image 2.
As you can see, in this design, I found the best results by adjusting the layers to be desaturated and without too much contrast. I just played with the layer modes until I found the ones that worked.
Have fun with textures!