Exploring Your Illustration Style: Exercises to Push Your Work | Ryan Putnam | Skillshare

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Exploring Your Illustration Style: Exercises to Push Your Work

teacher avatar Ryan Putnam, Designer & Illustrator

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Project: Illustrate an Everyday Object in a New Style


    • 3.

      Blind Countour Exercise


    • 4.

      Yard Stick Drawing Exercise


    • 5.

      Tactile Drawing Exercise


    • 6.

      Subtractive Drawing Exercise


    • 7.

      Chunky Media Drawing Exercise


    • 8.

      Brushed Media Drawing Exercise


    • 9.

      Natural Media Drawing Exercise


    • 10.

      Gathering Inspiration From Your Exercises to Make Your Final Piece


    • 11.

      Creating Resources From Your Exercises


    • 12.

      Wrap Up


    • 13.

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About This Class

Join illustrator Ryan Putnam for an 50-minute class on the exercises and creative prompts he uses to push his style in new directions. Ryan is known for creating digital illustrations that surprise and delight clients and viewers alike, and this behind-the-scenes glimpse gives you the tools and frameworks to challenge you and help you explore your style.

These bite-sized lessons follow Ryan through 7 non-traditional creative exercises that will each result in a different type of drawing. Ryan will then take inspiration from one of these drawings and walk through each step in expanding it into a new, digitized, polished illustration in a style he has never worked with before.

This class is perfect for anyone looking to get out of a rut and spice up their work, whether you're a professional illustrator with a recognizeable style, or just starting out. By the end, you’ll create a final illustration piece that challenges any of the work you've done before. Grab a pen, and let’s get started!


What You'll Learn

  • Design practices. Through his series of approachable exercises, Ryan will teach you how to take inspiration from everyday tools and objects to explore your design style and help it stay dynamic. You'll learn basic techniques that will give you a new perspective on illustrating, and will inspire fresh design elements for your digital work, too!
  • Creating your own. Ryan will invite you to illustrate objects in a range of new styles, giving you an opportunity to better define your work, or push it to the next level. Whether you want to learn how to become a graphic designer – or become a better one – Ryan's approach will help you expand your creative toolkit and inspire your process.
  • Blind contour drawing. In this exercise, you will draw a self-portrait that focuses on the contours of your face. Throughout the lesson, Ryan will talk you through the ways in which he analyzes his drawings for clues about his personal style, and will explain how to identify the characteristics of your work in the piece that you create.
  • Yardstick drawing.  Ryan will show you how to use everyday materials to challenge your muscle memory and to boost your creativity. By working at arm's length – and beyond! – you'll gain a better understanding of how your individual physicality affects your art.
  • Tactile drawing. Using organic, natural materials, you will learn to illustrate through touch – feeling your object blindly as you draw to get a different sense of form, line, and shadow. Ryan will also teach you how to look critically at the patterns you come up with, and to isolate them when you want to design your own fabrics or personalize digital work.
  • Subtractive drawing. You will follow along as Ryan shows you how to use charcoal and erasers to build a better understanding of light, shadow, and shape. By working in the negative, you'll learn to see and to create in new and interesting ways.
  • Chunky media drawing. Ryan will teach you how to work with pencil and paint to explore color and fine line, and how to translate that interplay into the digital realm.
  • Brushed media exercise. Using a paintbrush and household objects, you'll hone your brush strokes and explore how the ways that you move come together to create a personal style.
  • Natural media. Ryan will work with organic materials to put a spin on his subtractive exercise, creating a self-portrait that highlights light and line. He will show you how he takes his analog illustrations to make better photoshop art by using them as real-life resources for digital decisions, like color palate and expressive line.
  • Working digitally. You will learn, step-by-step, how Ryan translates his physical illustrations into digital art. He will teach you how he imbues his online work with personality by selecting pieces of the exercises he creates, hones them, and collages them together using his electronic toolkit.
  • Finding your voice. Through his tutorials, Ryan will help you find the unique perspective that runs through your physical and digital work. You'll draw inspiration from the pieces you create along with Ryan, and learn new skills that will keep your eye fresh and inspired.


Looking for more inspiration? Head here to discover more classes on illustration.

Meet Your Teacher

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Ryan Putnam

Designer & Illustrator

Level: All Levels

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1. Introduction: Hey everyone, I'm Ryan Putnam, a designer and illustrator. This is my class, Finding Your Style: Illustration Exercises to Push You on Skillshare. I have a lot of fun things I like to do when I illustrate, trying to like explore new styles. For me personally, they help me really distance myself from my preconceived notions of what a object should look like. These exercises step me back from my work, and see what is really unique to the way I create lines. The project is illustrating the object and the new style, and we'll do a couple of different exercises; some pretty orthodox, like blind contour drawings and drawing with like a big stick. This class is for any level of illustrators or any level with designers, wanting to explore their own personal style, pushing your style to the next level. 2. Project: Illustrate an Everyday Object in a New Style: The project is illustrating that object in a new style. You'll do a couple of different exercises, some pretty unorthodox like blind contour drawings and drawing with a big stick. After you draw those, you will convert one of them into a digital illustration. Actually taking specific parts of that illustration and creating textures from it or brushes. Playing around with all those crazy stuff. Upload your projects and the stuff you've been working on to Skillshare and I'll take a look at it. Super excited because these are really fun to do. Okay, thanks. 3. Blind Countour Exercise: So, this is the blind contour drawing, hello over there, this is Amir. Obviously, you need a mirror to look at, I have this big great standing up one, but a hand mirror would do just as good or going into the bathroom, closing the door, letting everyone know you're going to draw for a little bit. But you can look in that mirror as well. I like to be sitting down for this, you can be standing up, it doesn't really matter except for you want to be stationary, so, if you can do that standing up, that's great. For me, it's just easier, I'll start moving around if I'm standing up. I'm using some bristol board, it is just some thicker type of smooth paper, it works good with a sharpie that I'm going to use, we're not too worried at this moment of what medium we're using. Something simple like a sharpie or a crown colored pencil, just a regular pen is fine, and the paper too. I'm using bristol board, it's pretty cheap, but, you could use like some old printer paper, butcher paper, whatever you have lying around. So, to start with this, pick a place where, okay, I'll step back a little bit, we're going to draw a self-portrait if you didn't know that already. Pick a place on your face to start, I usually like to start like the top left over here. So, in my paper, I'll just pick the top left, but don't worry too much about that because you might even go off the paper. So, to start, you can look at your paper, put my pen down and then start looking at your face and go around each of the outlines of the contour of your face. When you do this, you cannot look at your drawing and again, don't worry about the final outcome because you're really starting to look at like the different contours in your subject matter, which is your face. This will sometimes, this will really create like a pretty unique line and it'll start finding characteristics of your drawing style start to come out, you'll see where you're spending a lot of attention to detail and things that you're going over with quickly. I'm working with my hat right now and drawing some little hair. I tend to not focus on those elements when I do self portraits usually, I like to look at the facial features, and maybe at the end of this, we can see, yes that is true. Like, you didn't really take that long. But again, don't worry about what it looks like, try very hard not to look, and it's good to be like pretty close to the mirror. I'm not as close maybe as I should be, but that's okay. Because then, you can start to look at every little detail. Another thing is to, do not pick up your pen, that makes this a continual blind contour. Sometimes you'll have to figure out, see I was finished with the eye, but how do I get back out without picking my pen, just figure it out. Draw and if you go off your paper too, that is completely fine, just get it back on your piece of paper. Try to do it without looking, but if you absolutely have to look to see where to place your pen because you went off the paper, that's cool too, but try not to. The marker that I'm using is a chiseled tip sharpie. Ideally, you would do this with more of a blunter kind of instrument, like a fine tip sharpie or like a crown or something like that, that gives more uniform stroke weight instead of this chiseled tip, which can have thick and thin strokes. Maybe that's more about the aesthetic choice by me, but I think blind contours look the best when the line is consistent. Look at that, like that. Okay, so I'm done, so now we can look at it. Whoa! That's awesome. So, you could start to look at some of the stuff you've done here, which is super cool. Again, like I said, I think you can see that I'm focusing in a lot on the eyes, nose, and mouth, some of those features, and I didn't pay attention as much to the hat. So, going forward, I could make sure I pay attention to other factors other than these facial features, or I could just think when I start to illustrate on other mediums like Illustrator or Photoshop, that I just hone in on those aspects of my illustration. I like the eyes, so maybe I make those more prominent, and I dig how some of this beard is working here. We can maybe take this agitated line into something else too, but, yeah, that's the blind contour drawing. Do a couple of them, it's fun. Do some of your family. I've a son, I'll do one of my son too, so. Yeah, that's all. 4. Yard Stick Drawing Exercise: Here's the yardstick or dowel exercise. I'm actually using this piece of wood that my clothes hang on. So, you could really pick up whatever you want whether it's a yardstick or just some random long piece of something. I tape just a sharpie marker to it. Don't worry too much about what you're actually making the mark with, I would say something that you just have lying around. Then I'm also using some Bristol board paper for the mark what I'm going to draw on. The Bristol board is just a little bit thicker and easy to take the ink but you could really draw on whatever you have lying around. If it's some printer paper, some butcher paper, some old cardboard box, you could just draw whatever. Again, we're not too worried about what the actual final product is, just how we get there. The object that I picked for this exercise, is a banana, something I eat every day. It's good to pick something, an object that you interact with every day. I picked food because it's something you'll have to deal with every day but something that you are pretty intimate with, and you think you know how it looks. But once you put this angle on it, you will see that certain parts of that object change when you approach it in this fashion. So, you can either, how I'm doing since I don't have an easel, you could just place your pad or a piece of paper on the ground and start to draw from there. Alternatively, you can put your piece of paper on an easel and draw like that, like you're shooting it. But let's try this standing up. I think we can get still on the same result. When you draw, hold the dowel or the object at the very furthest that you can while still being able to draw and ideally, outstretch your arm as well. What you want is this tension of a straight arm almost not being able to fully wiggle your pen, you don't want a very tight grip on it like you usually do. When you start drawing, just really look at your subject. Don't worry about how it turns out. So, I picked a banana like I said before and we can see this is actually going a little bit better. You'll notice on some curves that's hard. When you draw this, it would be good to also not pick up your pen, or your dowel. So, l'll connect this but I'll start to draw some of the other details within the banana. There's like this weirdness up here, and you can see it starts to draw some of those bruised part. What gets really interesting here is this label. Let's see if I could draw that. That might be fun too. Okay. As you can see, that looks nothing like the label, but you could start to see what my arm does given these circumstances. There'll be a straight contour line and then just a jagged edge like that. I'm starting to pick up some different types of personality through the line which could easily form like how you're drawing your digital work, or you can start to pick up on that within your illustration. This could even highlight problems that you have in your illustration, that jaggardness of the edge, is that something that is being replicated in my digital illustration that I don't want it to be? So, I could keep me looking out for things that are also wrong. That was pretty quick but I think it looks pretty cool as well, this is super fun in itself. We could keep doing this with tons of other objects that we interact with. I should put an apple in there or I drink a lot of coffee so maybe some coffee. But it's good to do this numerous times. So, don't just, just do that, you're done. Okay, give me the next exercise. Do it a bunch of times, see what starts to happen then you'll start to see these different characteristics of your drawing starting to pop out, and we can start thinking about how this will influence our illustration, or is currently influencing our illustration. But that was fun. That's cool. 5. Tactile Drawing Exercise: So, for this exercise, we're going to hold this piece of nature. You could go get anything you want outside, like a- a pine cone might not be great because it's kind of has a repeating pattern but this one's great because it has these different types of texture to it. This is very pokey up here and then kinda smooth, and a little gnarled. But this is a great piece. But go outside, find anything. It could be like a big kind of crazy rock that has a bunch of different textures, like smooth and then rough. The idea with this is to close your eyes, start drawing with a paper but draw what your feeling. That tactile thing you're feeling. Don't look at your paper. Don't open your eyes until you're done. These details are just so fine and I don't know if like my finger can actually feel all those details, but I guess I can kind of start- this one sometimes it's maybe a little more challenging as such a visual person like myself to just like totally let go when like what am I actually feeling. There's no looking involved. I think maybe I'll stop right there and see. Okay, so that's getting cooler. That's definitely getting closer to like what I was thinking. You can start to pull out some of the stuff for the texture. Maybe like one more time, super-quick I'm going to focus in on just another section. This will be really cool because now we got a couple of different characteristics of line and texture that we could use later. So, again, I'm going to do maybe this section just like super-quick. Okay, that's against super-quick. Okay, that's some more crazy stuff too. This is cool. This is definitely stuff I could start extracting out into illustration or other illustrations I have or patterns. This stuff will live really good as fills for objects or you can start to layer these in different ways. Or I can even start to scan in this portion of the line and we could create a brush from it and I'll we can apply it to different vector paths and it'll create a pretty interesting line. So, again, maybe this is not as composed as our other final pieces of the self portrait and the yardstick drawing, but it's still actually yielded out some cool results and we made some mistakes. It's a pretty good one. So, that's the tactile drawing. 6. Subtractive Drawing Exercise: This exercise is the subtractive exercise. It's where we're going to fill off a sheet of paper full of charcoal tone and then erase lines from it. No drawing at all, just erase the big predominant white space. It's great to learn to think of contours and shapes in a different way where you're doing subtractive rather than adding to it. Again, I'm using Bristol board. Any paper will do, of course. I have these pieces of charcoal. These are pretty inexpensive, but you could probably even use a soft graphite pencil. I have this piece of graphite. It doesn't erase too well, that's why I like the charcoal because it will spread easy and erase pretty good. I have a couple erasers, this kneadable eraser. I also have this chamois. This works good to spread the tone all over, but you can use a paper towel as well. I'll show you how that works so. Of course, I have a picture that I took of the Palace of Fine Arts here in San Francisco. Let's see. So, first I'm going to start by just putting the tone down and taking my charcoal just like really getting into it. Do it fast. Here, you could test out, see how this works on the side. You could get different shapes by erasing and even bolder strokes with a thicker eraser. You can even use X-Acto knife to cut this out. I like to use that kind of big blocker one too to block out some of these bigger shapes, but again don't worry. Do this quick. Let's do this really quick. Again, thinking back to when I was doing my blind contour, I was really looking at the outside shape of the contour of my face. I could bring that aside to think about that here, where I'm looking at the outside shape of this tree. You can see how this eraser can do some cool stuff, and this will be really cool to scan into for texture. These are always harder dealing with the architecture coupled with this subtractive style of drawing, because you can't control it as much using just the simple tools. But let's see what we can do. It just might look horrible, but again that's totally fine, because we're trying to figure out how to see these big blocks of shape and seeing what kind of blocks of shape it creates and stuff that we can extract into our digital drawings. Again, there's some of you that will do this and make some amazing work, and others that might just hate the result, and that's fine too. Then sometimes you realize you erased away everything. That's the nice serendipity about it. You're just going to go, "Well, it's gone." This is getting close to where we can maybe set it down. Again, it's not as detailed as the photo itself. You could spend a whole lot of time making it way more detailed, but we spent, I don't know, maybe five minutes on this. This is cool to keep doing a bunch of these, and you'll start to see things that start to make an appearance, because I really like how some of these shapes are. It might be cool to even with an illustration take pieces of these shape, and bring their characteristics to the feel of the object. It might actually be pretty cool, and even some of this texture around here, we can easily scan this portion and then put it as an overlay on a finished illustration. You might be able to take portions. Like this guy right here, we could probably extract this part and make a brush from it. That'd be pretty cool. But again, it's not award-winning art, but it taught us a lot of things about some textures, some shapes that we could bring out, some different type of brushes we could take out, and just form in general. So, that's that exercise. 7. Chunky Media Drawing Exercise: So, this exercise we're going to resurrect the tactile exercise using our banana object. We're going to adjust it slightly where it's not so blind based. Where we're really holding feeling the object, but we're not going to close our eyes when using our media. For this media, we're trying to use a variable width media. I'm going to again use my color pencil here, but I'm also going to use an old China brush and use some acrylic paints. So, I want to get some big chunky shapes of color, but also some that contrasted with some very finer strokes. This one's still pretty loose. We can call it tactile in the sense that you're going to touch and feel the object, and just very loosely apply some of this media. Very tactilely, I guess you can say. I'll start with, I have just some regular acrylic paints. You could use any paint you have lying around, if you have some lying around. Again, if you want to use watercolor, that's fine, with this block out big areas of shape, just to start to build up this form. Again, I guess we could use our tactileness, this is just super rough. I like some of these spots, and I can feel these harder edges here, and the softness of some of these areas. I'm just replicating some of that softness. This one's going to be quick, this one's super fun to do just like a bunch of really quick. So I laid down this quick color shapes right here, and I'm going to move into my color pencil here. We'll probably have to wait a little bit before it dries, and then we'll get back to it. So I'm going to, have coffee break. Okay. So, now, this acrylic is dry, these big splotches. I think it looks pretty cool. So, I'm going to keep it as is, I'm not going to add anything more. But now, I can transition because we're doing the variable width stroke. Something that's tiny or smaller, the colored pencil. Draw with feeling, I guess I'm saying a little bit looser, and how this object feels to you. So, and this one's great, is not like the blind contour you can look at what you're doing. Bananas sometimes have this weird shape. If you get it wrong, it looks weird, but you can see that I'm making these bigger strokes they're confident strokes. I like these ridges here. Here again, we're concerned with how these things interact and play together. More so, than just drawing exact replica of a banana. These bruises and the banana seem abrasive to it, like a bruise itself doesn't that sound abrasive. So, I was drawing them with feeling these abrasive lines to represent these bruises. But it gives it a cool texture. Again, it might not look exactly like a banana, but it has these very tactile characteristics, with this variable width stroke. Like this splotches, make the splotchiness of the skin come out. Then, using this colored pencil to create the contours, give it a very tactile characteristic with these. Take a look at some of what I'm liking what's happening is, the mixture of the splotchy element, with a hard stroke, right next to it. That's very easily can take this inner play into the digital realm. Yeah. I think that's cool. I think this is good to taken. Okay. 8. Brushed Media Drawing Exercise: Okay, this exercise, we are getting back our big old closet stick Dao broomstick, whatever you wants. This time, we're going to tape a paintbrush to it and we're going to use, I'm using India ink, black India ink, but you can use a watercolor, acrylic, oil, something we really want to brush texture to the brushstroke. We're going to bring back our piece of wood, our found in nature object. We're using same principles as before extending your arm as far as possible and join the object as you see it. I'm just going to try to draw what I see. I opted in for this square brush because I want to rotate it and get some different line characteristics. I guess we can see really just what happens first. Oh yes, it's just way thicker than I thought, but that's cool. I mean, I guess I can even try different stuff using the brush to create texture itself. You'll find that it's hard to even twist it. Again, you'll start finding things that are very unique to yourself. Sometimes by this time of the day, I've had enough coffee where I'm a little jittery. So, the lines sometimes gets a little jittery. If you're using India ink or watercolor, it's fun to just try to get some different tones in there too. Maybe I put a little too much. This is good, this is before where I thought it was a little thicker than I would have hoped, but I like what it's doing and a good thing to notice too is know when to quit because I think I'm getting to a point where I might just need to quit because I am finding, there's a lot of good stuff here that we could skin in again, or just recreate these shapes digitally. I think that's pretty good. I think I'm just going to wash it all out if I keep going, but that was super fun. I think once you've started to do this nature object, you're all set up, so might as well do some other types of object like a self portrait if you're still in front of the mirror, or a friend or take some of the other objects that you already have lying around. We can take this, make a brush super easy, these are what if we just isolate this out. That would make a cool scarf pattern or something? But, even if we try to take this shape characteristics and illustrate those themselves, or big blocks of color with an illustration, that's a really cool thing to extract from this too. But, this is super fun and you could get lost in just making tons of these, but that's all. Cool. 9. Natural Media Drawing Exercise: So, this exercise is kind of weird, but it's still pretty fun. I went outside, I got a big, old bag full of dirt and grime, and just a bunch of other nature objects, when I was finding my bigger nature object. But we're going to take the subtractive exercise and use this big old bag of stuff. So, I'm going to put this out on my piece of paper, just fan it all out, and then start to subtract from this stuff, a self-portrait., So, again, I'm positioned in front of my mirror, I have my bag of stuff, I guess let's just dump it out then see what happens. Well, okay. Let's try to get this a little bit uniform. That kind of worked out nicely, like all this stuff looks like my head up there, okay. I even have some accent objects here too. So, we could do this in couple of ways, we could either use our finger, or a kind of like the idea of just taking some of these objects and using those as the subtract development themselves. So, this looks cool or something thinner lines maybe, oh no, maybe this for like the bigger stuff we can always change, okay. Now I'm going to scrunch down on the floor like an old man and try to, this one when you're looking at your,your, the mirror, again make sure you kind of blocking out these bigger light elements. If you find some other way to kind of distill this then go for it. But we could just rely on the picture. This subtractiveness too is not quite like the eraser because, I think it's our right to cheap like push some more stuff back, so it's maybe not all subtractive and more kind of just pushing around of stuff. Let me get these, I'm kind of got sucked into looking at detail too much, so let me get these big shapes first. Came bigger against bigger shapes, and again with these like we're going to, it's fun to get out in front of your computer and do this stuff, but we are really teaching us to look at stuff just differently and seen where, We'll be able to again extract a bunch of this stuff to actually use in our illustration or just use the feeling kind of this stuff. Sometimes when you do this too it's good to be in, have a lot of light to create a lot of different types of shadows and then you can really see some of the different, bigger shapes. Okay, I mean, I think that's a good idea of what you can do with this. When I take a picture of this there's just so much texture here, we can look at how these different shapes play together, once I take a picture bring this to Photoshop adjust the levels we could pull out some textures from it. But we can even think of, within Photoshop or Illustrator we could think of creating illustrations same, kind of same way a collage of all this shit, and just, sorry, a collage of all these different elements and how they could work together actually to compose an illustration instead of just drawing the vector shape. But I want to take a picture of this, here are some other rocks I found these are just cool, we go I don't know actually. Cool. You can use, I just use my phone camera most of the time, it will actually take a good enough picture where I could still extract, scan it in or scan it in, create traced artwork from the image. Cool. So, we're all done. 10. Gathering Inspiration From Your Exercises to Make Your Final Piece: For this exercise, we're going to try to draw inspiration and try to maybe recreate one of these exercises that we have done. I was really inspired by the subtractive self-portrait. I really like the objects in it like the twigs. It seems really fun, but I want to make it more not realistic, but just like bring it into some of the work that I've already done. I like how it's collaged, I haven't really done too much collaging of elements. I was also going to lean on some older work that I've done too. Here is a marker self portrait that I'd done and I actually turned it into a vector illustration. You could see that I've started to illustrate a bunch of these little nature-like objects like twigs, rocks, smaller rocks, or wood chips, and start to collage them around some of the dominant blue shapes from the previous illustration. Then I've added in just some other random elements to fill in some of the illustration. I've even created some of these objects that I repeatedly use. I'll copy and paste these objects around, I created this scatter brush which is pretty interesting. Maybe I'll just show you really quick how I created that. Here is just a vector element. I'll drag it into the brush palette, create scatter brush, and here, we all change all these options to be random and then mess with the different percentages of the range size. I want to keep small, so keep that range small. Spacing, scatter, and this could be pretty just random at the moment because we could go in and change it to get it like a great scatter brush. Let's test this out with my brush tool. So, you can see that click has a lot of scatter. This is the originating path, and you could even go in and continue to tweak some of these options. I want them a little bit smaller, a wider range of small, that's too small. Maybe just do this up like that. Less spacing too, I want it a little more dense. Yeah. The scatter compared to the origin line, I think it's fine because I wanted to be close to that so I can control it just slightly, and rotation, we could just change a lot more too. Apply to a stroke. So, now we have this new scatter brush, which you can apply around the rest of the illustration, and also I could show you how I started to do some of these shapes. It's pretty much all the pen tool, pencil tool, and the line tool. Here, I'll draw this last one. So, just with the pen tool, I'll just go and I create a shape, and again, we're trying to create these illustrations like they're inspired by some of the work we'd done. In ideally recreating a little bit in recreating some of the materials and stuff, you want to stretch. It doesn't have to be a complete departure from stuff you've done, I have done wood grain before and drawn these little objects. But what I've really taken away is, trying to collage these elements together or have a different way of thinking about how these elements can work together. I have all my shapes created with the pen tool and pencil tool, but now I'm going to go and add some color to some of the shapes here. I usually like to keep my work relatively minimal color. So, this is actually a good place to push myself some more and try to add some more color into it. I'm sure it's going to end up being still minimal color but at least it's an effort to get outside that comfort zone. So, I started to pick this color palette. I brawl it, I used again my subtractive self-portraits as inspiration, and I really went and threw and picked some of these brown colors. Some of these more blue kind of green teal colors, and created just a little palette for myself to work with. I started to create some of these filled-in shapes. I want a spectrum of brown. So, maybe these glasses are slightly darker than the face kind of brown, which I need to change here. That's slightly different than the color of the hair, the eyebrows, the beard. So, in the way I did this too is like, there's so many shapes here to fill. It seems daunting, but we could create a graphic style using our appearance panel, and it makes it a lot easier to create these things super quick. I'll show you how I broken down one before. So, if you look at, well, one thing I did first too, I like to keep the outlines separate from my color. Just makes it a little bit easier to deal with if I need to. See that shape is set behind the rest of the outlines. So, I'll take this shape, copy it, paste it to the back, and then I will start to build out this appearance. So, if you open your appearance panel, you could start to build in some of these colors. So, I'll change the fill of it, take off the stroke, and this is really cool. I have kind of a drop shadow. So, to create that, I'll create a new fill. With that new fill selected, I'll go to effects, transform, and then offset it a little bit. If I don't need to do it that much, you could also press this preview to see what you're doing. Okay, that's a pretty good little offset to start off with. I'll bump down the opacity to this. Let's select multiply and go about 20 percent, maybe 30 percent. One other thing here is, I'm just offsetting that fill. But it's not taking to account the stroke over here, so it's not as robust as the shape. I'll select that again and from the appearance panel, click on the fill that I have the transform applied to. I'm going to offset the path just slightly by just one. Select round joins so it makes nice smooth rounded shapes, since it's supposed to be a drop shadow. Okay, I've went through and added color to all my objects and added some highlights on a couple, and also started to add some shadows on a couple. Well, actually most everything. I did those shadows the same way that I did these highlights right here. But it's looking pretty good. I also went and added some more of this rock color throughout the shirt, like the stripes throughout the shirt, and I'm really digging how this is looking. The colors aren't as exploratory as I would like, but again, I could just push that further if I want or not. I could keep adding stuff to the illustration. I added some more sand or rock around the illustration, maybe you could do some more. Here's another layer of some more, I think I was a little too much, but it's looking pretty cool. I'm digging how this is turning out and we can look again at our inspiration. Of course, it doesn't look exactly like it, but you could see where we're drawing some of that inspiration from. I don't think I would have attempted to do a collage kind of illustration like this if I didn't experiment around with this subtractive nature illustration, drawing whatever you call it exercise. But that's how this turned out and I think it's pretty cool. Excited to see what kind of inspiration you guys could draw out from the exercises you've done. 11. Creating Resources From Your Exercises: I'll use this. I think this was the stick brush example that we drew of the nature object, but there's some really great textures and things we could start to pull out to create some custom brushes. I scanned this end at 300 DPI, just doing that to get really crisp imagery, and let's see. Another good thing before I take this into Illustrator to create some of the the custom resources is to just adjust the photo slightly, I'll bring up my levels and just really blow it out. Let me convert this to black and white but first, our gray scale. Now I can play with the levels a little bit more. We essentially want it almost like a bitmap, two colored bitmap. This should work good. Later on, we can even go back and see if we could bring out some of those towns as overlays possibly, but this is a good place to start to make some of those art brushes. I'll save that out, I think I already have a previous version. Then for this exercise, I'm demonstrating how to apply these to artwork that I have here created or I actually have some that's ready to apply some of these brushes to. You could take an illustration that you already have done or use this as an excuse to create something new. Again, you could use some of the subject matter that we have already referenced, a self portrait or the buildings really nice for this exercise or even some of the banana, the still life object. Okay, now I'm going to go into Illustrator and here is what I'm going to draw. I have these portraits that I drew that I would like to see how I can use these elements to create, recreate it and add a different life to it. I like these doodles because they have a nice texture to the line, but I want to recreate it in Illustrator. So, I could create brushes that I could use again, be able to use this arts at different sizes, I just prefer to have this artwork in Illustrator. I already went ahead and outlined the woman. So, you can see I changed some things, but using the pen tool and the pencil tool, I started to create some outlines and this will be a good base to start to create the custom art brushes. Let me turn off my artboard, and now I'll place the object of our scan. Let's see, we've got a bigger image here. What I'll do now is just trace this image. You could press this image trace, it's a large object so it might be slow but that's fine. The thing I also like to do is bring up the trace image, the image trace dialogue. So, I can just tweak it a little bit. Under this advanced tab, I go high paths, get a lot of the details in it and then you can always mess with the threshold and some of these other options. Sometimes I just do it and see what happens. Keep this ignore white on. So, let me zoom in. Yeah, I'm starting to get there, I want a lot detail in some of those objects, so I could pull it apart to make a brush. Okay. So, once I'm done there, I'll expand it and ungroup everything. So, I could click off for grab a portion of it. Let's take this and we'll create a brush out of this one. Things I'd like to do as well is make the height of the artwork the same size as, or I make it one point stroke, so it's easily translatable to the point stroke when I change the stroke weight. So, I can roughly estimate that if I change the art brush to two points, it will look like a two point. But we have to generate the art brush with that one point height. Gets pretty small, but you can still see it. Take the artwork and drag it into your brush panel, and from here, you'll create art brush. It looks all pretty good to go, I usually change this to tenths and stretch the fit stroke length, that looks good, we just test it out. I intentionally kept some of these paths open so we can see what the art brush does to it. You could start to see some of it, it's small but now you can start to see some of the different textures and lines in that art brush. Again, remember how we made the height of the artwork only one point, that lets us scale the artwork or add a point stroke to the weight and still know what we're going to get. So, you could just do the same thing, keep adding art brushes and art brushes, and then you can always just continuously tweak them depending on the outlines that you want. So here, I'm going to combine these, make a copy. Oops! Make a copy, unite them, make sure the height again is one point, drag into art panel, create art brush, change it to tenths. Okay. Now, let's see what that one looks like. That one has a lot more stuff going on in it, which is nice. Okay, I made some pretty good progress up outlining all those outlines and applying some custom art brushes. As you can see here, I probably made about four or five different brushes and I created different brushes for like longer and smaller paths. The longer paths, I have a more dense brush,you can see here. I'll zoom in, so that's the brush I applied to this path. But I also have some smaller ones for smaller paths, even super small one. Then also I have a different brush for having some of these different end on these paths that I like. Okay. So, I've added some color to our illustration here, I'll quickly go over some of the stuff I'd done. I created these bigger shapes of color just with a pen tool or the pencil tool or even whatever tool works easiest for you. The cool thing about the brushes that we have made, if you have or open up one to show you. On these art brushes, if you've selected the colorization as tense, whenever you change the color of your brush, it'll just inherent the color which is pretty nice and cool, so you could just change the color. For example, that's cool and then I went ahead and use some of those bigger brushes to create some bigger shapes. Now, we could go back to creating some seamless patterns. Let's see, I want to add a pattern to her collared shirt here and maybe her sweatshirt. This is a good start to a possible pattern. Let me scale it down a little bit, but once you get these objects already created, let me scale this one up really quick, you can select all these objects and if you drag them into the swatches panel, they'll automatically make a pattern tile which is pretty cool. I'm going to select this fill, go into my parents panel and just create a new fill, and fill it in with this pattern. That's pretty cool, I dig it. 12. Wrap Up: So that's the class. We're all done. Hopefully, you've created some really fun exercises, even create some cool digital illustration. I hope you've learned something because the biggest takeaway is trying to find your unique voice through your work, through your designs, to your illustrations. Like right now, I might be known for some work I've done previously. I do these exercises so I really start to update my style, I don't want to become stagnant. So those are things that I'm personally doing and I use these exercises to facilitate that and I think you guys can, too. It's just fun, it's a fun way to explore how you're thinking, how you're creating things, how to see not only your work, but see in the future like what this can develop to. Yes. Good luck and send me a bunch of cool stuff. I'm super excited to see what you guys do. 13. More Creative Classes on Skillshare: