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The Road to Web designing

Art Illustrations

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25 November 2010

Design a pop-up illustration

Pop-up illustrations have always been traditionally reserved for children’s books, although often admired for their tactile and physical qualities. It is now widely accepted for illustrators and designers working across the creative industry to adopt pop-up and 3D techniques to add flair to their visual concepts.

Pop-ups can add a sense of playfulness to your work. They can also offer an element of surprise and interaction – and it can be very exciting to open out a pop-up spread and see the artwork spring to life in front of your eyes.

In this tutorial you will explore how to combine Photoshop’s tools with traditional pop-up techniques as a starting point to plan, modify and transform your 2D artwork into a fully functional pop-up spread. With practice and a little more experimentation you can go on to create elaborate 3D masterpieces that breath new life into your artwork, literally giving it a new dimension.

Step 1 The transition from 2D artwork to 3D should always be tested to make sure everything works properly. With that in mind, it’s best to start by planning a dummy version of your pop up first. Begin with a piece of hand-drawn artwork and scan it into Photoshop at 300dpi, making sure all the artwork sits comfortably within an A4 landscape canvas. If you create artwork digitally with a graphics tablet then you can go straight to using that.


Step 2 Now separate the artwork into layers using the Magnetic Lasso tool with the Edge Contrast set at 10%. Look for natural horizons within your artwork. With the Selection tool active, right click and select Layer via Cut. This will separate your selection onto a new layer. Repeat that a couple of times until your artwork is divided. There’ll be gaps in your artwork at this stage but don’t worry about those for now, they can be corrected later.

Step 3 These layers will form your ‘pops’. They will need tabs to stand up, which will be glued later to your base. Select the Line tool and set it to a width of 10px. Draw two simple tab shapes at the base of your artwork. Holding down Shift while you click and drag will snap the line horizontally and diagonally.



Step 4 To make the base, create a new landscape A4 canvas at 300dpi. Next you will need to mark out the centre fold. Go to View > New Guide and set it to 50%. This will place a guide in the centre of your canvas, from which all your pops will function.

Step 5 Next, glue points need to be added to your base so your pops can be positioned correctly. For this you are going to use a variation of the ‘mountain fold’ technique. This is where the pop folds away from you. From the centre fold guide, draw a diagonal line on a new layer. Copy the layer twice and position the lines underneath at equal distances.

Step 6 Merge your three layers together. Copy that layer and flip it horizontally. Re-position it so that it creates three ‘V’ shapes that point down into the centre fold. Link both layers and position the ‘V’ shapes slightly higher, so they are top-heavy in the canvas. This will ensure that your pops are more accurately positioned when the base is folded in half.


Step 7 Print out your pops. Measure the width of the artwork to find the centre and create a vertical score line. This is best done by pressing gently with the wrong side of a scalpel blade. The grid on the cutting mat is useful for lining up your artwork to find an accurate vertical centre line.

Step 8 Print out your base. It will need to move freely when folded so the whole pop-up functions well. Score the base along the centre line and fold it a couple of times so it finds its natural resting position.

Step 9 Glue the pops to your base along the V-shape glue points. Conceal the tabs by gluing them away from you behind the artwork. Work from the front of the spread to the back, as this will provide more room for your hands to position the artwork. Allow a little time for the glue to dry.


Step 10 It’s important to view your dummy pop-up from a variety of angles to make sure that the pops are the right size and working well against one another. At this stage you may need to trim and re-work the shapes of your pops if they are too big. Other elements from the original artwork have also been added to the base.

Step 11 Make sure that your dummy folds and works properly, so that the pops do not catch on one another. Most traditional pop-up book spreads protect the pops within the dimensions of the page. You may wish to challenge this convention depending on the nature of your artwork, so the artwork spills from the edges of the pages when they are closed. Experiment with the sizes and shapes of your pops to achieve this.

Step 12 When your dummy is working the way you want it, it’s time to finish the artwork and re-draw in the gaps that have been left behind. As you are converting 2D artwork into 3D shapes, it is important that the artwork on each pop is complete as you will be able to see through and beyond each pop as it sits on the base.


Step 13 Now add the artwork to your base. Drag and drop the artwork onto your base canvas. In the Layers panel change the blending mode to Multiply so that your glue points are made visible on the artwork. Print out the base.

Step 14 Print out your pops using a thick paper stock and cut them out. Leaving a small white edge will enhance the definition of your pops when you glue them in place later. Measure the width of each pop to find the centre line. Score the centre line and the tabs.

Step 15 Score the centre line of your base and fold it back and forth a couple of times so it finds its natural resting position. This helps to release any unwanted tension on the pops when the base is folded shut.


Step 16 Glue all the pops to the base in the same way you did with the dummy. Experiment further with different score lines or maybe holes in the artwork that you can see through. There are so many possibilities!


Simon Wild

21 November 2010

Inking techniques revealed

When creating comics, few artists stop at the pencil stage – most then pull out the inks for a more dynamic black and white look. Here artist Douglas Sirois takes you step-by-step through how to turn out a piece with a pencil-drawn look. The techniques you’ll learn will get results whether you’ve drawn the original piece in Painter or Photoshop, or scanned in a page of your own comic art, hand-drawn with a 2B pencil.

Discover how to combine different line thicknesses to suggest depth, use cross-hatching to add texture and consolidate it with fine detailing to bring some finesse.

This tutorial follows up Douglas’ guide to pencil effects in Painter -- but even if you haven’t attempted that, you can follow this new guide using the sketch found in our Download Zone.

Step 1 Start by taking the finished pencil layer (from our Autumn issue or the Download Zone) and lowering the opacity to 25%. Create a new layer just for inking. A good place to start inking is by filling in all the solid black areas of your page. To do this, choose the Reed Pen variant under the Pen and Ink category. Fill in wherever you have solid black areas in your page.

Step 2 Now choose the Scratchboard tool, which acts like a real-world inking brush and can achieve really nice thin lines and heavier lines too. When you start to ink on the layer above the finished line-work, use the pencils layer beneath as a guide. Use thin lines for face and hair and thicker lines for clothes and shadows.

Step 3 To ink all the straight lines, you can use the straight-line stroke mode (V) and the Thick n Thin brush variant. Create straight lines that are thin for forms that are in the distance and use thicker lines for forms that are closer to the viewer. The more detail you start to put into the environments at this stage, the more believable and interesting your finished page will look.

Step 4 Shading areas with cross-hatching can enhance the feel of a piece or object within it. Again, the Scratchboard tool comes in handy because of its easy, fluid ability to create thin-to-thick lines in one stroke. I wanted to embellish the horrific image of the skeleton cowboy, so applying shading in a loose, rigorous manner gave the image more energy.

Step 5 Using the Scratchboard tool, shrink the size of the brush so you can add finer details such as cracks and facial hairs. Use your references to add final details such as wood grain, folds on clothing and other details to the environments such as the suggestion of a dirt road or the wear marks one might find on an old hat.

Douglas Sirois

18 November 2010

Draw realistic liquids in vector art

Creating convincing liquid effects in vector illustration can be a tricky business. Luckily, Jing Zhang has provided us with this tutorial that shows you how to make a real splash with your art.

You’ll learn numerous Illustrator techniques to create vector liquid, by playing around with Illustrator’s Mesh tool, Warp tool and layer blending properties.

The Mesh tool is often overlooked, but it is one of Illustrator’s most powerful tools. You can use it to create realistic 3D effects and it allows you to give your work a unique finish.

Step 1 Fire up Illustrator and using the Pen tool (P), draw a basic shape of a water splash. Speed up your tracing progress by using keyboard shortcuts as you draw, such as the Selection tool (A), Direct Selection tool (V), Convert Anchor Point (Shift + C), Pen tool (P), Add Anchor Point (+) and Delete Anchor Point (-).


Step 2 Copy the object you just created and use Ctrl/Cmd + F to paste it in the same place twice. The more layers there are, the better the effect will be. Next, click on the Warp tool (Shift + R) and using the default setting, warp the top and the middle layer as shown in the picture above.


Step 3 Colour all the objects in blue, either using the Pantone shades shown above, or by creating your own – just make sure the outer layer is in the darkest colour and the inner one the lightest.

You’ll learn numerous Illustrator techniques to create vector liquid, by playing around with Illustrator’s Mesh tool, Warp tool and layer blending properties.

The Mesh tool is often overlooked, but it is one of Illustrator’s most powerful tools. You can use it to create realistic 3D effects and it allows you to give your work a unique finish.

Step 1 Fire up Illustrator and using the Pen tool (P), draw a basic shape of a water splash. Speed up your tracing progress by using keyboard shortcuts as you draw, such as the Selection tool (A), Direct Selection tool (V), Convert Anchor Point (Shift + C), Pen tool (P), Add Anchor Point (+) and Delete Anchor Point (-).


Step 2 Copy the object you just created and use Ctrl/Cmd + F to paste it in the same place twice. The more layers there are, the better the effect will be. Next, click on the Warp tool (Shift + R) and using the default setting, warp the top and the middle layer as shown in the picture above.


Step 3 Colour all the objects in blue, either using the Pantone shades shown above, or by creating your own – just make sure the outer layer is in the darkest colour and the inner one the lightest.

Step 4 Next, we’ll add the highlights. On the top layer, use the Pen tool (P) to draw up an object similar to the one shown. Try to use as few anchor points as possible to avoid complicating the mesh later. Fill the shape with the same colour as the top splash layer – the lightest blue. Using the Mesh tool (U), click on the centre of the highlight, and fill the anchor point with white colour. Adjust the anchor point and its arrows to make it look smooth.

Repeat this technique on the other areas of the splash, creating more highlights until your picture starts to look glossy.

Step 5 With the Ellipse tool (L), draw an ellipse object of any size. By stretching and warping the object with the Warp tool (Shift + R), you can ‘liquefy’ its shape naturally. Add some dark twisted strokes to make up the motion of the splash. In illustration, details define the quality, so it’s definitely worth taking more time over this step.

Step 6 Still with the Ellipse tool (L) selected, create a few water drops of various transparencies. As real water drops are rarely uniform in shape use the Warp tool (Shift + R) again to make them look more realistic.

Step 7 Select a few of the main water drops and make them more solid with the Mesh Tool (U), using the method described in Step 4. You can even change the colour some of the anchor points to a darker shadow colour.

Step 8 Composition is crucial, particularly in a piece with lots of natural elements, so be careful not to overdo any particular sections. Here, I’ve given prominence to the right-hand side of the splash, where the water pours.


Step 9 Add sparkling highlights to your splash as shown here. Vary the opacity of each highlight shape from 50% to 95%. This subtle detail will dramatically improve the texture’s appearance.

Step 10 To create the Koi carp, I used the help of a plug-in called SymmetryWorks to make the fish scales. You don’t need the plug-in to make them, but it saves a lot of time! You can either download it fromartlandia.com/products/SymmetryWorks and follow my settings as shown above, or you can create your own. Then, with your pattern selected, go to Object > Expand.

Step 11 Draw a Koi carp and duplicate the body shape, using one as a mask for the fish scale (Ctrl/Cmd + 7). Colour the other parts with gradient colour. With luck, your Koi carp should look similar to the one here on the right.


Step 12 To make the fish look solid, duplicate its body and fill it with darker blue colour. Next, apply the Mesh tool (U) and, using the same method as described in steps 4 and 7, add an anchor point in the middle, and fill it with white. Click on Opacity in the menu bar and set the blending mode to Multiply in the drop-down menu.

Step 13 To add extra highlights to the fish, use the Pen tool (P) to draw a blue shape, repeat the Mesh tool method and fill the middle anchor point with white colour. Finally, change the blending mode to Lighten.

Copy and paste the Koi carp to different areas and vary their size and rotation. Use the layer stack to place them in front and behind the water.


Step 14 We’re almost there, so lets add in the glass now. Use the Pen tool (P) to draw the outline of a glass with a stroke weight of about 3pt.


Step 15 Finally, duplicate the glass object but close the path, and fill it with dark grey. Use the Mesh tool (U) to add a few anchor points. Change the colour of some of the anchor points to white.

Next, change the blending mode to Screen and set the opacity to 69%. Save this as a new layer at the top of the stack. I’ve included some additional elements in my finished design – fruit slices and ice – so why not add your own touches?


15 November 2010

Organic smoke and spatter effects

It doesn’t take much to make a great looking piece if you have a strong initial concept and some nifty tricks to cover the technical side. In this tutorial Arturas Petkevicius shows you quick and easy techniques ranging from the Warp tool to clipping masks and adjustment layers to create a stunning final image.

While the techniques seem simple at first glance they offer many opportunities: you can use them to create a sense of movement in your composition, to create realistic effects and textures, or to add a specific sense of colour to your final composition. Best of all, these techniques are flexible and easy to learn.

Arturas has provided a self-shot photo that forms the basis of this tutorial. You can find this in our Download Zone.

Step 1 First we will need to find the right image to work with. Try getting an image that has some sort of a story in it, this always adds to the effect. I’ve used a photo that I shot, which you can find in the Download Zone if you want to follow this completely, or you can use one of your own. Mask it out with the Pen tool in Photoshop – although I also used Vertus’ Fluid Mask 3 plug-in to make the job easier.


Step 2 Download Falln-Stock’s Smoke Brushes sets from bit.ly/9bk6K2 and bit.ly/coB3LE. Use them to add smoke to the left side of the photo. Erase parts of the legs and add smoke in-between for a more dynamic effect. Use the Brushes window (F5) to adjust the angle of the brush stroke to fit with the flow of the photo.

Step 3 Ensure you put each brush stroke on its own layer. To make the smoke more realistic, select the strokes close to the arm and use the Warp tool (Edit > Transform > Warp) to play around with the positioning of the smoke. Use the Eraser tool (E) to delete parts of the smoke around the arm to give the composition more depth.

Step 4 Add a large letterform in front of the figure to add visual interest. I’ve used a ‘K’ in a font comprised of straight lines to contrast with the organic movement of the other elements.

Next we’ll do the paint effects. Download the stock image of a red bird by rml-stock from bit.ly/cm5cgX. Load it into Photoshop and mask out the background. Copy and paste the image on the right side of the stock and rotate it to an interesting angle that works with the composition, erase the rest.

Step 5 The red paint is still not convincing enough. Use the Liquify filter (Filter > Liquify) and play around with the image by adding swirls and pushing it in different directions. This will add more flow to the image.

Step 6 Still working with the paint effect, begin by creating holes with the Eraser tool (E) around the arm. This will create the feeling of the arm coming through the paint and thus give more interest to the image.

The image still looks pretty flat. To change this, select a splatter brush from the Eraser tool and add a few brush strokes.

Step 7 Next we want to add some splash effects at the top. Do this by creating a new layer and, using a splatter brush, paint with white in the top area. Next load the image we used for the red paint, copy and paste it as a new layer on top of the splatter, right click and create a clipping mask (Layer > Create Clipping Mask).

Step 8 Create some more clipping masks and using the Move tool (V) play around with the positioning. You can also use Free Transform (Edit > Free Transform) to scale, rotate and distort the clipping mask. When I’m finished, I like to use a colour adjustment layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Colour Balance) to add unity to the image.

Arturas Petkevicius

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