Aug 29, 2010

Las Cruces poster & drawing in Photoshop

(Click All Images to Enlarge)

Here's a new poster I did for the awesome Evil Fanny of Frederick MD, rad promoter and rad person.

I've been getting alot of questions on how I make my art, specifically if I draw it by hand, use the computer or both. I'm doing all of those combined right now: I draw it out, scan it draw on the computer using Photoshop. I covered some of the pre-Photoshop image making process in this blog post and will try to scratch the surface of how I do some of the Photoshop portion here. So here we go...

After setting up the file and sketch In Photoshop I'll scan the final drawings and clean them up in Photoshop:

I'll then work on the final compostion and rough color scheme before going farther into details and final touches:

Computer "materials": Right now I'm using Photoshop CS3 (should upgrade, I know) on a PC and a Wacom Intuso-4 for the "drawing in Photoshop" portion of the process. With these I'll draw the details of the forms and their dark and light values as well. The Intuso-4 has an 8.8" x 5.5" Active Drawing area and is pretty essential to the process for me right now. I started using a tablet around a year ago after using a mouse for a decade and a half and it's an incredible difference. The difference took me awhile to get used to but I'm now sold.

After drawing the outline of the forms by hand, scanning them, arranging the compostion and color scheme I'll start on the details and values by adding darks first with the pen tablet:

Once the dark value is set I'll add a lighter value in the space not used by the dark value and far enough away from the darks to let the original color of the form show:

It's important to note I'll do the lights and darks in their own layers so I can edit them later or play with the transparency if needed. This part of the Photoshop process is as important to me as the using the tablet itself. Having the ability to change the transparency and hue of the values is what I need to make judgments and changes & make sure everything works as a whole. I've tried converting my line art to vector art and using Illustrator for its flexibility with color and quick changes but the ability to combine the tablet drawing and other Photoshop features not found in Illustrator is best way to work for me.

Here's the most important part for me: the way I change the colors of my lights and darks in Photoshop after I've drawn them. I create the light/dark color areas using Photoshop's 'Color Fill Layers' option under the Layers dropdown:

First I'll pick a color:

Then I'll begin to draw out the color/value areas with the pen tablet using the mask that is created for the 'Fill Color Layer':

As you can see above Photoshop has options for Opacity and Fill Percentages for the Color Fill Layer. By clicking on the "color square" next to thumbnail of the mask you are editing you can change the color of the Color Fill Layer at any time. Those features are important to me.

You can go to the 'Channels' window and click on the mask channel created for the Color Fill Layer (usually below the RGB or CMYK channels) to see where you have created your mask. The red area here is where there is a mask and the Color Fill will not show through:

After a few lights and darks layers, maybe some extra light layers and a few layers for details the amount of layers will add up and I'll begin to organzie them in groups to keep track of them:

... and there you have it! It all boils down to creating light and dark color areas by masking out Color Fill Layers in Photoshop. Using a pen tablet to do this helps me maintain the hand drawn look of the original line drawing. The color, transparency and shape of the Color Fill Layers can be changed at a later time which make them super flexible and give them an edge over vector art to me.

BONUS! The original idea sketches and pre-final sketch:

Aug 15, 2010

Dali's Llama CD Release show poster & the ingredients

(Click images to enlarge)

This poster is for Dali's Llama 'Howl Do You Do' CD release show and uses many elements from the CD packaging which I'll get into in another blog soon. For this blog I want to talk about the different ingredients or elements that go into a design and the challenges they can present.

Here is an overview of the CD packaging the art came from:

The band asked to use elements of the CD packaging for the CD release show poster including the skeleton, dog, vine border, logo etc and not use everything if I didn't want to. They also mentioned making it similar to a 60's Filmore poster and use the bands logos if possible. Using the different packaging elements & band logos as well as fitting it into a style or design that echoed the Filmore era of posters was a challenge I was up for.

First up I had to do some research on the poster style and find some inspiration to make the elements work with the overall design. Here's a Grateful Dead poster by the awesome Rick Griffin I borrowed some layout inspiration and ideas from:

Once I had a layout I had to make it all the ingredients fit within it and work together. I can usually make everything fit and look like it belongs togther if I remain open minded and not get set in a preconceived idea of the end result. This time I didn't try to fit any square pegs in round holes and everything was easy greasy.

Here is an animated GIF of the process it took from original idea to the finish, check out how a few elements left the page and one changed drastically.


The plaid rainbow, pink flower and a rhino in the back ground all had to go, they were cluttering up the composition and lessing the impact of the poster. Originally I had the eyeball flower carrying the amp it was perched on in the CD layout. This didnt work and I redid the amp and thorns surrounding it. I tried to use the 'Filmore' font in areas of the poster, replacing the 'Misifits' font used in the layout but went back to the Misifits font in the end.

So there you have it! The behind the scenes of this poster was more about the process of design (arranging elements) and using ideas presented to me rather than the illustration itself. I'm super proud of the end result and glad I could use do new art for it like the border and eyeball-flower's wings and amp below it. Hope the animated GIF helps to show the progess and was easy to follow. Thanks for reading.