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Adobe Illustrator Tip – The Free Transform Tool

In this video we have a quick tip for you about using the free transform tool in Adobe Illustrator. The free transform tool isn’t as easy-to-use as you might think. There’s a trick to get images to distort, if you don’t know the trick the free transform tool behaves very differently.

About the author

  • Norm GrockNORM GROCKContributor, Founder

    Having grown up on the shores of Maui, Hawaii, Norm has always had a love for drawing. Since leaving the Islands’ beautiful beaches and landing in Oregon he went to college and received a degree in graphic design. Now living in Beaverton, Oregon, Norm has been working as a full-time graphic designer and illustrator for the last 12 years. He has spent countless hours perfecting his craft as a freelance illustrator working on several children’s books, a few video games and creating numerous educational products. His ability to draw has given him the chance to do the thing he truly loves — Create.

Award-winning illustrator Lynne Chapman explains her process for creating Jungle Grumble

Today we have two videos by Illustrator Lynne Chapman. In the first YouTube video Lynne explains how she Illustrates a picture book. Lynne gives insight into how she plans her illustrations with thumbnails sketches and also how she designs the pages in her book Jungle Grumble. Learn how she turns a page of emailed text from the publisher into line drawings. She also talks about the things she requests from the publisher before beginning her process.

In video two she explains how she creates different personalities for her animal characters and how she brings them to life. She explains how she uses photo reference to help her identify key features like making minor adjustments to the eyes to change the characters feel. She also talks about how she may have to draw the character over and over until she gets it right, I’m glad award-winning illustrators have to do that too. I thought I was the only one.

If you’d like to learn more about Lynne Chapman’s work you can check out her website or blog where she shares much more of her wonderful knowledge.

About the author

  • Norm GrockNORM GROCKContributor, Founder

    Having grown up on the shores of Maui, Hawaii, Norm has always had a love for drawing. Since leaving the Islands’ beautiful beaches and landing in Oregon he went to college and received a degree in graphic design. Now living in Beaverton, Oregon, Norm has been working as a full-time graphic designer and illustrator for the last 12 years. He has spent countless hours perfecting his craft as a freelance illustrator working on several children’s books, a few video games and creating numerous educational products. His ability to draw has given him the chance to do the thing he truly loves — Create.

Schoolism Spring Sale

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Schoolism is an online series of art courses taught by award winning professionals. They present a great opportunity for those who are seeking to advance their skill sets in the various arenas offered. All self-taught classes from schoolism.com are $100 off right now through April 15, 2014 bringing the cost of the class down to $370. Check out the Schoolism.com site and see what courses they have available! We have reviewed several of schoolism’s courses on OUaS and have found them very helpful. To read any of our thoughts on these courses you can find links to them below.

Character Design 1 with Stephen Silver (Critiqued Session)
Character Design 2 with Stephen Silver (Self-taught)
Gesture Drawing with Alex Woo (Self-taught)

If you do intend to take a course at Schoolism and you follow this link OUaS will receive a small portion of the purchase price that we can use on attending other courses and reviewing them for you. http://schoolism.com/?share=i9yrf

Light em’ up!

How we choose to light our scenes  is just as important as how we compose them.  Lighting sets the mood.  A harsh red concentrated spot light can make even a sweet painting of a toddler girl feel spooky, and cheerful sunny ambient lighting makes monsters seems friendly.  It directs the viewers eye around the page, emphasizing details or hiding secretive elements.  In short, great lighting makes for great visual storytelling.  By being deliberate about how we choose to light our scenes, we can give our artwork added dimension and drama.  For this post, I would like to share some of my favorite lighting tutorials and resources for artists.

Cyril Rolando is a gifted digital artist whose entire portfolio focuses on high-drama dramatic lighting of surreal fantasy scenes.  He has graciously made many tutorials to share his technique and artistic process with others.  He gives great tips and tricks for digital art in general, and his instructional gallery is well worth browsing thoroughly.   However, I would like to draw attention to Rolando’s tutorial on using adjustment layers in Photoshop to quickly change lighting hues and temperatures to affect the mood of a piece.  Click on the image below to find the full tutorial.

CyrilRolandoImage Continue reading

Guest Post – How to Make Custom Magnets

Aja drops by today to let us know how she creates one of her more popular promotional items, a magnet that features her artwork. So dig in and learn her technique and find ways to incorporate it into your own marketing plans for the future. To see more of Aja’s work follow this link to her website.

When I prepared to attend my first SCBWI conference a few years back, I wanted to leave a take-away item that was more inspired than a postcard. While browsing my local craft store, I found some printable magnet paper. Excited, I bought a few pieces and made a print.

However, I quickly discovered that the actual paper quality was roughly equivalent to regular printer paper, and so the magnets looked dull and very home made. So, I returned to my local craft store and I found this:

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Adhesive backed magnet! For a 13 by 24 sheet of rolled adhesive magnet, the general cost is about 9 dollars, but can be found cheaper online. Now all you need to do, is lay out your design on a 13 by 19 inch (or a few 8 1/2 by 11 sheets) high quality paper. I prefer using luster paper, but for this project I used professional quality matte paper. Be sure to put your designs close together to maximize the amount of magnets you can produce. Continue reading

13 Rules For Making Comics

13 RULES FOR MAKING COMICS
by Kevin Cross

1. Write. Then rewrite. Then rewrite again. Etcetera…

After you’ve figured out who your main character is and what genre your story will fall in to, write a rough outline. Don’t worry about how it looks or if there are tons of misspellings. The outline is for you to throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks while figuring out  the beginning, middle, and end of your story. When you are satisfied with your rough outline, write another more detailed outline. Then write the first draft of your script. Put it away for a few days. I guarantee that you’ll find flaws with your first draft after you come back to it with fresh eyes, so write a second draft. Once the second draft is finished, if possible, show it to someone whose opinion you trust. Show it to someone who can be honest with you. Don’t get butt hurt and remember to say thank you! If you can’t show it to anyone… you guessed it… put it away for a few days. In my experience, no script is ready to go until at least the third draft is written, so get cracking on your next draft. Put it away again, but let it sit for a month or two while you work on something else. Use this time to nail down your character designs or design the environments your story takes place in, for example. After some time has elapsed, pull out that third draft. See if the story feels finished. You may want to show it to someone again or maybe you find more flaws or have ideas to make it better. You might need to do more drafts or less if you are a brilliant genius. Make sure that you know exactly what the story is, in and out, before you draw one line. It’ll save you headaches in the long run.

2.  Read!

Read stories without pictures. Don’t just read comics in your genre, and for goodness sake, don’t just read comics. Doing so can make your comic come off as derivative. I’m not saying you shouldn’t read those comics at all. They can help you learn the language of comic storytelling, but please, vary your diet to see what works and what doesn’t work from storytellers that have come before you. Study that sh*t! I know its cliche, but reading does make you a better writer.

3.  Keep It Simple Stupid!

Comics are about communication. Get rid of superfluous details! They can be distracting and take you out of the story. Simplify and go for clarity in your storytelling.

Continue reading

Make it Work

I recently finished this new promo piece. This illustration will be included in the next promotional catalog put out by MBArtists.

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The illustration was inspired by my son, who happens to be obsessed with trains at the moment. I wanted to share my process with everyone, so please follow along as I go from the initial sketch to the final illustration;

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With any illustration, I started with the sketch.  This was done in Photoshop. At this point, I was still not completely satisfied with the background or the foreground elements. Typically, if this was for a client, I would make sure to resolve everything before moving on…however, since I was essentially doing this for my own indulgence, I decided to plow ahead and see where things would take me. One of the luxuries to being your own art director is that you get to explore and react to a piece as you are developing it. 

But before I moved onto colors, I duplicated my sketch layer. One layer, I left at the very top of my layer stack, this will be left invisible and set to multiply. This layer would only be turned on if I needed to refer to my sketch later on as I rendered. My second layer was put at the very bottom of my stack.With any illustration, I started off with the sketch. This was done in Photoshop. At this point, I was still not completely satisfied with the background or the foreground elements. Continue reading

Streamline your Workflow with Manga Studio Story Editor

I think it’s fair to say we’re all looking for ways to be more productive. We want to make our workflow as streamlined as possible so we can get more done in a day. Well, if you do any comic or graphic novel work and have yet to try out the Story Editor in Manga Studio, you may want to read this mini review – it could help improve your workflow and increase your productivity.

While working on my current graphic novel, I decided to try the Story Editor in Manga Studio EX 4 to see if it could help me save time and make the whole process easier.

One of the main benefits I’ve found in using the Story Editor is that it’s helped me focus more on working out the flow and pacing of the story and less time managing different files. I can quickly lay out my rough sketch pages, add in dialogue, and move pages or scenes around to fine tune the flow and pacing of the story – all from one application.

The Story Editor – Overview

When creating a new file in Manga Studio, you have the option of creating either a page or a story. Basically, a story is a file that groups all of your individual pages together in one place (think Adobe Bridge but with a lot more functionality). With the Story Editor you can easily write or import all your dialogue, view and edit all your pages, make global changes to dialogue or font styles, and export your pages to individual files or as a PDF (great for creating a book dummy).

Creating a new story

When creating a new story file you are presented with a window where you can set the dimensions of all the pages (you can set your own or choose from a number of templates), margin guides, output resolution, and indicate the number of pages you would like to set up for your story. You are also given the option to add some footer information to all of your pages (title, copyright info, and position of page numbering). All of these settings can easily be changed later if you need to adjust things.

Continue reading

John Stanko Creates the Cover for Imagine FX issue 96

John Stanko recorded this screen cast while he created the cover for issue 96 of Imagine FX. Created in Corel Painter, this cover was inspired by Frank Frazetta and so it’s of a classic fantasy heroine and some tigers just for fun. John Stanko is an Assistant Professor of Visual Communications at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. He has also created artwork for Legends of Norrath, Dungeons & Dragons, and Magic: The Gathering. “John trained as an oil painter and uses a similar workflow in his digital art, making him the perfect choice to adapt Frazetta’s theories” says Imagine FX post about this cover.

This video is a long one, with a run time of about 53 minutes. It’s nice that Imagine FX finally put out a tutorial video with commentary. Most of their videos are just speed paintings with no voiceover from the artist. I found it very interesting with a lot of good insight. Just the overlays of bright colors he uses is pretty amazing to see. Let us know what you think of this video in the comments. Below are a few process images and the final cover for issue 96.

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Inking and coloring artwork in Adobe Illustrator

When I first started doing the Once Upon a Sketch Screen Casts I created a series of two videos about how I ink and color my drawings in Adobe Illustrator. Well, it’s been over a year since I created this set of videos so I thought I would share them again for those who haven’t seen them yet and even if you have seen them you might like a refresher. I just watched these videos again and learned things from myself that I had forgotten (which is really funny).

Some might ask why you would want to create inked looking vector lines in Illustrator when you could use another tool like Photoshop, Sketchbook Pro or Manga studio to get the same look. My answer to them would be, even though the two lines might look the same on the surface they are two very different things. The main difference between the two would be that vector lines are infinitely scalable and raster images are not. Example, a company hired me to design mascots to promote one of their programs, I created these characters using the same techniques shown in these videos and most were created at around 8.5in x 11in. With these images being created in a vector format it was no problem when the company asked me to create a billboard using the same artwork with no loss in quality when the images were blown up to about 600 times the size that they were created at. This would not have been the case if the images were created in the other programs. Now that you know why you would want to create this type of drawing, here are the two videos. The first is how to create inked looking lines in Illustrator and the second is how I fill in those lines using the Live Paint Tool.

The first video is about how I set up my brush tools in illustrator to get and inked looking vector line. I also use the blob brush tool to show you how to create a different type of line and describe the difference between the two tools. Continue reading

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