7 February 2009

Master painting in Illustrator

Transform your sketches into stunning textured artworks.

Patrick Auletto Based in the US, he is an illustrator, designer and teacher who specializes in teaching traditional and digital illustration techniques to college students. Auletto is also a prepress professional, and spends his free time freelancing on everything from Web design to editorial illustrations.
Contact: http://patrickauletto.com

Transforming your sketches into detailed, textured digital paintings takes time and patience – but the ability to magic up a scene and create it with flair is a key skill for any digital artist.

In this great tutorial, Patrick Auletto shows you how to develop a piece from a pencil sketch into a richly-coloured, stunning painting. The key to creating this type of illustration is to think of your document as a blank canvas, ready for paint.

By overlapping several layers of highlights and shadow, you’ll create the illusion of depth. Throughout the tutorial, you should be experimenting with layer transparencies to find the look that works for you.

01. In a new Illustrator document, go File > Place and select drawing. jpg from the cover CD. This is a sketch I created; you’ll see that it has a number of different elements. Create and label new layers for each key item in the illustration, as this will save you time later on. In the Swatches panel, click on the corner tab and select Open Swatches Library. Select one or more of these color options – this will give you quick access to your color palette.

02. Use either the Pencil or Pen tool to trace the basic elements in your artwork, putting each element in its separate layer. The Pen tool is great for tracing objects such as the glass, liquid, and bottle, whereas the Pencil excels with the more free flowing shapes likes flames. Fill each item with colours from your Swatches palette. Once you trace out an element, lower the transparency of your object so that you can still see the sketch.

03. Now you have your basic items outlined, make your scanned layer invisible (click on the eye symbol in the Layers palette) and bring your other layers up to full transparency. Next, start playing around with gradients. Linear and Radial gradients will give your artwork a slickness that you can start building on when you begin your shading. Make sure each item has a stroke – this is essential to your finished illustration.

04. To create the illusion of depth of field, add a Gaussian Blur (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur) of around 6.5 to the flames layer. This will blur the edges of the flames, giving them a more stylized look.

05. Add some basic abstract transparent shapes over the flames: this will start to add complexity to your illustration, as using contrasting dark and light shades will give your art depth. You may find it helpful to assemble reference photos of some of the items in your illustration, to help you render your illustration correctly – particularly the lighting and shadows.

06. Start adding surface textures by drawing worm-like paths on the foreground, then add a custom stroke brush. Open the Brush library, then select one of the artistic brushes from the menu. Changing the point size of the path will have a big effect on the overall appearance.

07. Finish adding some dark colours to the foreground, and then it’s time to create the sky, on a background layer. Instead of having a vertical gradient sky, we can add a large shape covering most of the background but leaving some light near the horizon-line. Add a Gaussian Blur, as you did on the flames. Apply a little more Gaussian Blur to a couple of the flames.

08. Next let’s experiment with the Twirl tool to add some drama to the sky – in your Tools palette it’s one of the options on the Warp tool. Draw random shapes onto the skyline, getting darker the closer they are to the top of your artboard, then let rip with the Twirl tool. The Warp tool can be helpful for controlling the shape of your distortion. Once you’re happy with the results, change the opacity mode to Multiply. This will help create a psychedelic skyline.

09. Now let’s turn our attention to the liquid flowing from the bottle into the glass. Look at photographs of water, then try to simplify these into your art. Draw abstract shapes that mimic waves in a range of shades, play with the Twirl tool, and use the Pen tool to add dark edges and darker areas.

10. The key to making the liquid look glossy and finished is to add strong white highlights to the bubbles, liquid and glass. Use these highlights to show movement in the liquid. Overlapping the shading adds contrast to the area.

11. Now use the Pencil tool to model out the wings, adding a multicolored frame to them. Put a Radial gradient from a light to a darker shade on the inner sections of the wings. Drawing custom strokes with the brushes helps add texture and another level of interest to this area.

12. Now turn your attention to the bottle. Adding two or three large areas of light tones over the bottle gives it believable lighting. Use dark tones to help model the shape. Spend some time adding splashes of color throughout the wings, bottle and anywhere else you see fit.

13. Add some reflections to the bottle: sketch out a shape in an area where there will be a reflection, then put a transparent fill on it in a color just adjacent to the object’s color. Then draw a shape with a similar contour just beside it and color it similarly. This will add a high-quality finish to the surface area of the illustration.

14. Next, we’ll make the skulls on the bottles really stand out. To do this, we’ll need to think about the direction the lighting is coming from to figure out where to add highlights and shadows. Adding transparent complementary colours to sculpt the skull’s face will make this image pop out. Try using blues for the shadows and yellows for the highlights. Opacity of 50-60% is generally effective for work like this.

15. Add accent colors to your illustration to give it a finishing touch. Try experimenting with oranges, yellows and blues to broaden the piece’s color palette. Make sure you convert all your colors to CMYK for commercial printing.

Thank You Patrick Auletto

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