Thursday, October 30, 2014

Baby Pills: Sketch to Vector

I should really title this A BUNCH OF MY STUPID STEPS. The fact that I still work in analog is pretty dumb sometimes (this time definitely) but that's the way I know, so I select DEFAULT SETTINGS and get going...  AND sometimes there's nothing like grabbing a brush and pulling a big, fat, black ink line to a perfect taper.

I am moving more and more to digital; even for sketching, but I think it's good to have a balance in working with all mediums.

Also, before you read further, you should know, I am being lazy and do not cover all my steps along the way. This is just an overview of each stage. Someday I'll be more organized about posting.

Here goes...

This little guy was the start of an idea for a sticker collection I'm working on. This first doodle is about 1x1.5 inches. Just something I jotted down on a legal pad while taking notes during a phone call.

Later, I grabbed a random sketch pad from the pile and did a larger sketch in bic pen. I used pen for this to try and keep the energy of the small sketch. It didn't work in this case, as you'll see; I make several adjustments to get back some of the proportions from the small sketch.

Things like: this guy's head is too narrow, his eye is too far back, etc.

This is where I sort of came up with his back story for his slogan. Not much of a back story. Just a drug addled baby.

Here's where my stages get increasingly dumb. I could have just scanned the larger sketch and messed around with it in Photoshop or Illustator, but instead I pull out my trusty tracing paper (I have stacks of this stuff pilfered from some previous employer and look for any reason to use it. Too rough for toilet paper.) You can see here that I'm making adjustments to compensate for my inability to enlarge properly. 

Also, at this stage I started thinking about how the text will work. Always loved traditional tattoo so that makes it easy.

Here's the finished trace.

Technically, this is not the next sketch, but I don't have a picture of what's next because I ink over my pencil on bristol. So technically, before this I lightbox and trace this image again onto bristol. Yes, I'm an idiot. I probably adjusted a few things you wouldn't even notice in the tracing.

Next, I pull out my trusty Winsor Newton brushes and ink and get sloppy. This is a REALLY sloppy ink job. I felt bad about it, but I knew I would clean it up later.

Now we're skipping ahead again.

To fill in the gaps, I scanned the image at 300dpi grayscale. I usually scan at a higher dpi if the final will be printed from raster artwork, but since this is going to vector I could do a smaller scan.

I probably had to do some compositing and manipulation of this in Photoshop because it's bigger than my tiny scanner (RIP large Cannon, I remember you fondly.) Pretty much did the basics; adjusting levels and getting my blacks; black, my whites; white and mixing my peanut butter with my chocolate. Then lower the dpi, command A, command C, open Illustrator, command V, lower that opacity and lock that layer, son!

I prefer to copy and paste (instead of placing the image) because I hate losing placed files. Prompts annoy me and I move my files on and off my desktop A LOT. Hate having to find where I moved a missing linked file.

Fast forward again. Here's the "finished" vector illustration over top the sketch. You can see some more adjustments and changes (adding and deleting details because the final is 4x4 inches). 

Told you I didn't have all the answers you wanted. Ask me later, I may have an answer. 

I'm sure one of the questions is: "Do you use Image Trace?" I do use Image Trace sometimes. It's handy, but I don't use it for precision stuff. For stuff like this I draw it one point at a time with a couple of quick tricks for getting smooth lines.

Here's the "finished" piece (for now). I'm still adjusting the colors and will do some custom stuff to the font. If you want to know more about my process or materials (or just call me an ass cocking douchebag) have at it. The comments field is all yours.


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