Thursday, August 7, 2014

Creative Process - From Doodles to Illustration

For many years I have admired gorgeous patterns printed on home goods and textiles and wondered how in the world do people do that? Is it really PEOPLE who do that, or machines? But machines aren't creative! I had no clue. I've been a graphic artist for 18 years now, living on deadlines, producing one marketing piece after another, relying on stock photography and clipart to obtain those images/illustrations that I don't have time to make from scratch. I do the corporate thing because I'm good at it, it pays the bills and I like my employer and coworkers (BIG plus). My passion however, is in all things CUTE! Oh, what I wouldn't give to land a job creating graphics for children's apparel! 

As I follow the beat of my heart, I realize it's time to work in that direction, so I spend every chance I get researching designers and online courses. That is how I came across Lilla Rogers' Make Art That Sells online course which I took last fall, and the Make It In Design Free Summer School Course which I'm currently taking.

When it comes to graphic design, I am pretty quick at visualizing a concept in my head, and I rarely sketch anything before I begin working on a layout. I can't say the same about illustration, though. Illustration and pattern design takes me HOURS to complete, mostly because I'm still pretty new at it. The more I do it the faster I'll get, I'm sure. Every artist has their own way of working, but here is my individual process broken down in three easy steps.

The topic for my Summer School (Beginner Track) assignment was Tropical Paradise. I spent some time online looking for pictures and illustrations of tropical plants and birds. I studied the features  and details of of toucans, flamingos, surfboards, plants, etc. Then I shut my browser, took out a few pieces of plain white card stock, my favorite black pen and began to doodle over and over again all things that felt tropical and beachy to me. It is important NOT to copy anything you have seen. Just absorb, be inspired, and draw while the images are fresh in your mind. Let your individual style shine through.

I'm not too confident in my hand drawing and painting abilities, so after filling a few pages with doodles, I recreate them (from scratch) in Illustrator. I don't have a Wacom tablet, but sometimes I will use Adobe Ideas on my iPad to recreate my doodles digitally, then I download them to Illustrator where they can be fine-tuned. I don't worry too much about staying true to my original sketches and changing up the characters. The way I see it, if I find a way to improve as I move along in the process, I will.

Once in Illustrator, I focus on the details and complete my illustration. I'm not very experienced in creating  patterns. I've used Illustrator to create a simple repeat a few times, but I haven't mastered it yet. The image below was created simply by copying and pasting my birds and florals, changing up the size and colors, flipping them vertically or horizontally, placing them manually throughout the designated space and adding a background.

And that's how this piece was born. I'm sure in a few years I'll look back and cringe, but for now, I am embracing the moment. It's the beginning of a new path in my career as an artist, and as with anything, only time and practice make perfect.

No comments :