5 June 2009

Transform your doodles into art


Doodling is an everyday part of life for most creatives – it’s as natural as holding a pen. Whether you’re etching out little characters on the back of an envelope while you’re on the telephone, or creating a complex masterpiece in the back of a notebook, bus trip by bus trip, it’s an essential part of developing your own style and honing your imagination and artistic skills.

Many creatives, then, will have a bag full of doodle-filled notebooks, and a desk covered in messed-up envelopes and Post-It notes. But what do you do with them afterwards?

Much of the time they end up in the bin – we don’t see them as an important part of our creative work. This is a shame, as when you’re freed from commercial constraints and drawing for fun, your true style can shine through.

In this masterclass, Craig Shields shows you how to turn these little outbursts of creativity into artworks. You’ll learn how to spirit your doodles off the Post-It note and into a digital illustration, using them to add a very personal touch to an image. The masterclass makes use of several images that can be downloaded for a small fee or for free.


01. Find yourself a decent high-res stock image, or use an image of your own. For this illustration I’ve chosen a quirky futuristic image of a model, which you can download for a small cost from iStockphoto at this link: http://tinyurl.com/5j2jog. You can use any portrait that has a fairly clear background.


02. We’re going to insert some layers behind the figure later on, so we need to create a layer mask. First, select the Pen tool, and create a path around the edge of her face, hair and arms. Then right-click (Ctrl + click) your path, and pick Make Selection. Then go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal Selection to create your layer mask. Name this layer ‘Woman’.



03. To replace the background that we’ve just got rid of, create a new layer and call it ‘background’. Move this layer to the bottom of the layer stack. Choose a light purple and a dark purple, and fill the layer with a radial gradient, making sure the lighter shade is in the centre.


04. Right-click on the layer mask you created in Step 02 and select Apply Layer Mask. Next, cut out her left arm and paste it onto a new layer. The arm doesn’t look right where it is, so we’re going to rotate it towards her body slightly. After you’ve done that, merge the arm and woman layers together. Then select Image > Adjustments > Desaturate.


05. Grab a piece of paper, and something to draw with – this could be pencil, pen or inks. Sketch out some drips, similar to flowing blood. Be as messy and as rough as you want: the messier, the better. Use the photo of the woman as a reference point so that your drips will work with her body when you scan the drips into Photoshop.


06. Scan your drip drawings and open them Photoshop, dragging them onto a new layer named ‘drips’. Set the blending mode to Multiply. This gets rid of all the white and leaves you with only black. All you have to do now is move them around to see where they would fit best. I drew mine so that they would come from her fingertips and eye, but it’s up to you. Have as many drips as you like – have fun and experiment with markers, felt-tips and paint.


07. Open splat.psd from the cover disc and drag it onto a new layer called ’splat’. Make sure to put it behind the ‘woman’ layer. Next you need to desaturate it (as in Step 04) and set the blending mode to Multiply.

08. Next, have a hunt through your sketchbooks and anywhere else for doodles you’ve done, or grab a pen and get doodling, to create the materials for the next step. These can be as random as you like there are no rules here.


09. Next, scan in all of your doodles, drag them into your document, and stick them in a folder called ‘doodles’. Select a doodle’s layer, go to Image > Adjustments > Invert, set the blending mode to Screen, and play with its positioning. Repeat this for all your doodles.



10. Go to http://tinyurl.com/6sbbsp, download the image and drag it onto a new layer called ‘nebula1’. Drag the layer to the top of the layer stack, and set the blending mode to Screen. Select Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast and enter a brightness of 5 and a contrast of 50 respectively. Then select Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation and drop the hue to -90. Leave the other controls alone.


11. Go to http://tinyurl.com/6jj2r4, download the image and drag it onto a new layer called ‘nebula2’. Change the blending mode to Screen and play with the colours. You can use any star field or space scene as a means of creating a bright and colourful textured overlay for your images. It’s just a matter of experimenting.

12. The background is looking a bit bland at the moment so let’s embellish it. Open bg_texture.psd from the cover CD and drag it onto a new layer above the ‘background’ layer. Set the blending mode to Overlay and select Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast and enter –10; 100. Rename the layer ‘texture’.


13. We’re nearly there – just one more flourish of colour. Download the image from http://tinyurl.com/5kystq, drag it onto a new layer and set the blending mode to Screen. Mess around with the brightness and contrast, and the hue and saturation. Make sure you keep it bright and colourful.


14. For the finishing touches, create an adjustment layer. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Colour Balance and enter these values: 17; 1; 22. You can keep adding to this image as much as you like, throwing in any hand-drawn elements you have to hand, or whatever you dream up. Digital is good, but mixing it up with oldfashioned recycled doodles is better. Just to finish, select Layer > Flatten Image, then Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen. You may want to increase levels and saturation as well.

Author: Craig Shields


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