Picture Books With Photoshop: From Sketch To The Final Art | Fabio Sardo | Skillshare

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Picture Books With Photoshop: From Sketch To The Final Art

teacher avatar Fabio Sardo, Children and middle grade illustrator

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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.

      Your Class Project


    • 3.

      First Step: Read the Story


    • 4.

      Character Study: Looking for Hannibal


    • 5.

      Book Format & Composition


    • 6.

      Making a Storyboard


    • 7.

      Final Art


    • 8.

      Conclusion & Quick Summary


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About This Class

If you love funny and minimal children's book illustrations, then this class is for you!

Hi everybody! My name is Fabio Sardo, and I'm an Italian freelance illustrator based in Milan. I work in the children and middle grade books field for a major Italian publisher. This is my first Skillshare class. In this class I will talk about my workflow, and how I make children's books from the storyboard to the final art. 

In this class, you'll learn how to:

  • Create a funny storyboard,
  • Create a character,
  • Get ideas and build on them
  • Build a composition (I love minimal and funny compositions and creating playful illustrations)
  • I'll also be sharing with you the Photoshop tips and tricks I use the most

This class is addressed to all beginner illustrators. I work completely digitally from sketches to coloring, so my working tools are: a graphic tablet and Photoshop. So to take this class, you will need a graphics tablet and Photoshop as well. You don't have to be a Photoshop expert but knowing the basics will help you along the process.To show you my working method I will use a story, “Hannibal’s Rules” that I am proposing to publishers.

For your class project I'll ask you to choose a scene from the story and make an illustration of it. But don't worry, I'll show you step by step how I make them.

So let's get started — see you in class!

Meet Your Teacher

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Fabio Sardo

Children and middle grade illustrator


Hi everybody  my name is Fabio Sardo, I'm an Italian freelancer illustrator based in Milan. I work in the children and middle grade books field for the major Italian publisher. I graduated from the three-year course of the Milan comics school. I like playful, minimalist illustrations. To see my latest work, follow me on Instagram.


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Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Hi, everybody. I'm Fabio Sardo. I'm an Italian freelancer illustrator. I work in the children in middle grade books of field for the major Italian publisher. This is my first Skillshare class. In this class, I will talk to you about why I make children books from the storyboard to the final part. I will show you how to make storyboards, how to create characters, how to create homemade composition. I love fun and minimal composition to create playful illustration, and then share with you some tips and tricks about Photoshop. This class is addressed to all beginner illustrators. I work completely digitally from the sketch to color. My working tools are a graphic tablet and Photoshop. If you want to take my class, you need to have a graphic tablet, but if you are an illustrator or wants to be an illustrator, I guess you already have one because it's an essential tool. You don't have to be a Photoshop expert, but just know the basics. When I work, I follow my own method, but for me, there's always a playful and unpredictable part in making illustration. I'm a full-time illustrator and this is a job, but if I have fun, I worked better. To show you my working method, I used the story that I'm proposing to a publisher and [inaudible]. For your class project, I ask you to choose one scene and make an illustration of it. It will be fun to see the different interpretation of the same story. From resources, you can download the PDF file of the story, my storyboard, and the [inaudible] file, we do the layers of an illustration of any volume. So, let's start, and most importantly, have fun. See you in the first lesson. 2. Your Class Project: Hi everybody, welcome back. In this video, I will present your [inaudible] Share a class project, step-by-step follow my impromptu advice. I will give you during the lesson. We will create a new threshold starting from a sketch. First, download and read the story, Hannibal's Rules. After reading the story, highlight the keywords that will help you to draw the main character. Then, we move onto the character study. After that, we will do a sketch for each scene. Here, we will pay particular attention to the composition. Then we will put them together with a [inaudible] to create a rough story board. As I told you for Photoshop, you don't have to be an expert. We will use a few simple comments. Then I usually revise each sketch to make a proper story board. But for this class, I asked you to choose only one sketch, your favorite one, and revise it. Finally, we will do the illustration. Here, we'll see I create palettes and some tips into Excel use about color correction. If you feel comfortable after making the first illustration, you can repeat the process, and make as many illustrations as you want. I suggest that you start with one, complete the process and eventually start two of them. So follow the steps, I will show you during the class. Most important, post your progress in the project [inaudible]. See you in the next lesson. 3. First Step: Read the Story: Hi guys. Welcome back. In this lesson, we will talk about the first thing to do to illustrate a picture book. Read the story. For this first lesson, you should have downloaded Hannibal Rules. Open Adobe Acrobat, menu bar, click on file, open, go where you've saved Hannibal's Rules and open it. I usually start reading the story and highlighting the information I think is important. Hannibal is a short 24 page speech books. The text give us a few details like when he slides on the banister with arms open wide or the toy is big and yellow. It does not give any information about Hannibal or his dog looks like. What it tells us is how Hannibal behaves. We are quite free to picture Hannibal the way we want to. In the end I highlighted a few details not to forget when I draw the scenes in some sentence that I think are important in creating Hannibal's character. Actually, I didn't highlight much because the text is short and I can read it back quickly when I need to. Reading the text, I figure out Hannibal as 4-5 years old child, naughty, unruly, but also sweet, that he loves his dog meat ball. Here some suggestion what to I highlight. Most important, look for words and sentence that sparked your imagination. That is the best way to accomplish your work. All right. Guys that's all for this lesson. In the next one, we will start drawing. We'll talk about Hannibal character study. See you in the next lesson. 4. Character Study: Looking for Hannibal: Hi, everybody. Welcome back. In this lesson, we will talk about the character study. After reading a text and getting a sense of the study, we can start drawing Hannibal. At this point, it doesn't matter the size of the Photoshop document. But for convenience of the sketches on an A4 size RJB color 300 pixels inch. If I drag this sketch on a document it will be printed, I won't have to change the size. Don't over think. Just open the Photoshop document. Start drawing to your warm up your hand and your mind. I know I'm not going to like the first drawings, but I don't bother about it. If I draw something I don't like, so I delete it and then start again. If I'm not sure, I don't delete it. I just copy in another level and keep working on it. It's better when I check this sketches, sometimes you choose a sketch to keep among the old ones. If I get stuck or I'm not happy with what I did, then I do some research on the Internet to get inspiration and create a MoodBoard. In this case, you could look up a naughty kid or bad boy. You can also look at the work of your favorite Illustrator. Personally, one of my favorites is Carter Goodrich. Anyway, like Austin Kleon said, "Steal like an artist.'' Getting inspired by other creatives. Everyone take inspiration from others, and it's not about copying, but transform and mixing things your way. I usually start by drawing my characters standing in a frontal position for [inaudible] shots. At this stage, you're looking for the character physiognomy. I started with carrier, but it was too likable. Why he had to be naughty. Looking on the web, I saw the image of the boy with straight hair covering his eyes. I thought it was the right look for hannibal, there covering his eyes gave him a naughty look. Big head and small body make him likable, a perfect match for me. The text doesn't say that we are in summer time or how anybody is dressed. But I imagine with simple clothes, shirt, and pants, my hannibal is a simple and playful child. Hannibal represented an idea of childhood. There is no wrong or right way to draw hannibal. I will like you show me your own hannibal, your interpretation of who hannibal is, and [inaudible] prompt is that I think is very helpful to choose one or two scenes that you like best from the story and use them for character study. For example, you can choose the scenes that you find funny still. For hannibal, I use this. In the end, I usually get something like this. I can say that I do proper character study. I just need to get an idea of what my character will look like just through using the [inaudible] letter. Eventually, I revise it in the storyboard. I also love minimal muscle. I don't know much details. Here is a reminder of what we saw. Don't get stuck. Start drawing anything. It's the starting point. From there, look for [inaudible] book. Get inspired by others and use the scenes you like best for character study. All right guys, we are at the end of this lesson. I hope you enjoyed it. In the next one, we talk about composition. See you in the next lesson. 5. Book Format & Composition: Hi, everybody. Welcome back. Let's take another step towards the realization of our project. In this lesson, we will talk about book format and composition. The first thing you have to choose when making a start book is the book format. If you go to the library, you will find that there are children books of different size and format. The vertical format, as Anna Castagnoli says, is more dynamic and decisive. The horizontal is more funny as with. The format you choose depends on the mood you want to give the story. Hannibal's first story book had the vertical format. Once I finish, I wasn't sure about it. It was too strong in my opinion. Any bully is brat, but all sizes with that. Then the side for a square format, 23 by 23, better balance. To practice we work as if it were a commission book that will be printed. Since it's very difficult to print exactly to the edge of a sheet of paper. To achieve this, it's necessary to print a slightly larger area called bleed area. Without bleeds your finished product may have a slither of wide and longer edge. So the book format is 23 by 23 centimeters, a double page is 23 by 46. Our Photo shop document with bleeds is 24 by 47 centimeters. Let's open our Photoshop document, the double page. With the guides, we define the safe zone and divide in two pages. Do not draw important details between the two page, they may get lost in the fall of the book. Also, you don't have to start sketching from the first scene you're going straight line following the story. Start with the one you like the most or the one that when you're ready to, you immediately get a picture in your head or have to draw it. This will make it easier for you to get started and give you a boost to deal with the others. My favorites are the staircase scene and when Mum [inaudible] Hannibal. Let's start with the latter. At first, I don't know whether I will place the text in other elements. What I do is draw each element on a different level so I can move them easily. I love doing minimal and final illustration, besides, for me illustration is communication. So I ask myself, "What do I want to communicate in this illustration?" The answer may be anger, astonishment, and above all, tenderness. And what do I need to do that? Certainly, Mum, Hannibal and Meatball. Other things are not necessary. For example, I do not need to draw the bathroom because the text tells us that they are in the bathroom. So I just estimate the towel inside the text is the essential part of the composition. Keep in mind to leave enough room for it. At this stage, I'm not interested in drawing well, I just play with elements of the composition, even the texts and move them, scale them up or down. I play until I find a composition I like and it works. I tried to show only the lower part of the model then I try to show only the phase. I find the latter better. I'll tell you why. This is my final sketch. Westerns read from left to right and from top to bottom. So the first thing we will see will be the mother said,then we will move on on the text and then to Hannibal and Meatball. After that, we move on to the other page where there is no text and we'll go to the drawing. Drawing only Mum said, I direct the viewers of [inaudible] along this line. This imaginary diagonal lines makes the illustration dynamic. I use these diagonal lines a lot to give motion to scenes. You can direct the user's eyes with colors too. This is an illustration I did for a middle grade book. Here on a cold green background, I use warm colors, red and yellow to point out the tiger and the man. As usual to make it dynamic the man and the tiger are connected by imaginary diagonal line. Alright guys, that's all for this lesson. Now, I want you to choose one scene and make a sketch of it. Don't forget to post in the project gallery. See you in the next lesson. We'll talk about creating a storyboard with Acrobat Reader. 6. Making a Storyboard: Hi, everybody, welcome back. In this lesson, we will talk about creating a storyboard with Photoshop and Acrobat Reader. Before we start, I want to remind you that for this class, you don't have to draw the whole storyboard. As I told you in the beginning, you have to choose one scene, do one sketch, and one final art. Since I wanted to show you my workflow, I included the creation of this storyboard in this class. But if you like, you can illustrate as many scenes as you want. But I repeat, it's not necessary. In the previous lesson, we drew a scene from the Hannibal story. Let's say we drew all the scenes. Now, I open one scene at a time. As I told you before, I draw one element per layer and save it in PSC format to keep all layers separate. This way, if I need to modify only one element, I can do it easily. Now, I'm going to save this file in PDF format in a folder that I called EVF. I merge all the layers, select Photoshop PDF. We don't want it as a copy. I don't want to preserve the possibility to editing Photoshop because it makes the file heavier. If necessary, I can edit the PSV file. Now I save it and we do this for each scene. After saving the last scene as a PDF file, we open Acrobat Reader. Now, let's open the PDF file of Hannibal's story. We use a few simple buttons to create a storyboard. Click on organize page, click Insert from file, select all the PDF files of Hannibal's story, click Select. Let's choose After as location. Since I gave each name to each file the page number, the scenes are already in the correct sequence. I call it storyboard Hannibal and save it. Then I usually reduce the file size to send easily by e-mail. I click optimize PDF, reduce file size. I may save a StoryBoardHannibal though. As you can see, after reduction, the file is much lighter. Now that you have the complete storyboard in one PDF file, you can check that everything works fine. Check if the format is right for them or you want to get it, check their rhythm of nurmaria threads, alternate static and dynamic scenes. This is an example of a static scene. It's the final one. To make the scene static, I put Hannibal in the middle of the page between the two parents, which form two vertical lines. Instead, in the dynamic scenes, I do not put important elements in the center, but I create imaginary diagonal lines between the elements of the composition. All right guys, we've seen how to make storyboard with Photoshop in Acrobat. It's not part of the project and you don't have to do it. But if you want to do it, don't hesitate to post in the project gallery, it would be great. In the next lesson we will talk about creating the final art, palette, color correction, and so on. See you in the next lesson. 7. Final Art: Hi everybody, welcome back. Finally in this lesson, we're going to talk about creating illustration. Some tips before starting, make sure your Photoshop document is the correct size, and 300 pixel inch for a good print output. I always start working in RGB color mode. Working in RGB color mode means more features for you to use and a smaller file size, which allows Photoshop to operate more efficiently. But you should know that certain RGB colors that you can see on your monitor cannot be replicated with CMYK inks. These RGB colors are said to be out of the CMYK color gamut. Once your illustration is finished, it will need to be converted to CMYK model for using full-color print production. While I'm working RGB, I occasionally check that the colors are good for printing. To do that, go to "View," "Proof Setup," "Custom," choose the CMYK color profile, red color profile depends on the type of paper you are printing on. For eatery to print on uncoated paper, I use this profile. Another tip. You can display non-printable colors in the "Color Picker" Window by pressing "Command," Y, "Shift." When the illustration is done, don't forget to convert it to CMYK. Merge all the layers. Go to merge, mode, CMYK. If you have done a good job, the color should be more or less the same as before. Let's start the final part, the palette. I usually create a palette for each project, although I have some colors that I use often. It's difficult for me to create a palette for the character without setting background, so as well as for the character study, I start by choosing one of my favorite scenes for the color study. This one was the first Hannibal illustration I did. I was happy with it. I drag in a new boy in a new document, I pick it's color with the eyedropper tool to make my palette. It's easy because for my illustration I use flat colors, and I add shadows on another layer. If the same background is present in several scenes I suggest you do a color study for the background as well. The palette is very useful and it speeds up the work. Now I want to show you how to make illustration. I've chosen another scene to illustrate from among my favorites, that of the ship. I'm pretty happy with the sketch, so I don't need to revise it. I drag the palette into the document and the first thing I do is make selection with the lasso tool. I will also edit them with quick mask mode and save them. I do mask if for each element of the composition. Then I start coloring from background and the larger elements. Since I pictured this scene during the day, I use ordinary colors like blue and light blue for the background. I use a small range of colors to set the mood for the illustration as blue and purple. A very dark blue for the bottom of the ship, and I added some purple shadow similar to the color of Hannibal sea ship to the other parts of the ship. In the final art, only grandpa sends out a bit. If I'm not happy 100 percent with the mode, at the end, I use some adjustment layers too and my favorite is a "Selective Colors." I don't use tags to get the green effect, I use a brush called [inaudible]. I also have a special eraser and you can download the brushes. I use the monster from resources. An adjustment layer it's a very useful tool, applies color and tonal adjustment to your image without permanently changing pixel value for the layers below. To add an adjustment layer, click "New Adjustment Layer" button at the bottom of the Layers panel and choose an "Adjustment Layer Type." I often use them to change the mode a little bit if I'm not satisfied and when I'm doing the first illustration for color study. The one I use most is selective color. They are very useful because you can re-edit and change the color at anytime. I use the adjustment layer for this illustration too. As you can see, if you delete or deactivate the adjusted layer, you see the previous color. This is another example if I use selective color. Double-click the "Adjustment Layer Circuit Colors." As you can see, there are six color channels, plus whites and blacks. Most of the time, I just make small changes to the neutral channels to get the them what they want. Here I wanted Hannibal on the left to appear enough light. Instead, Hannibal on the right is in full light. I increase the cyan a little bit and decrease their magenta. This is the difference with or without the selective color layer. I find very useful to split the layers into groups. First of all, because if you want to change Hannibal hay or some part of the ship you find it easily. Here is the is a group named ship. Here I find Hannibal. Secondly, if you switch a group, like Hannibal from "Pass Through" to "Normal" and add adjustment layer to the group. You can modify Hannibal without modifying any other object outside the group. This is very ugly, but it's just an example. To create the group. Just click the folder at the bottom of the panel, "Creating a new group." Or you can use the shortcut "Command" plus G. I use clipping mask for almost everything, Hannibal, the ship, grandpa. I use them because they allow me to quickly and easily change the color or shape of everything. Equipping mask is a group of layers to wish a mask is applied. The lower layer defines the shape of the mask and changing the base level modifies all the others. It's also very useful to quickly add details without worrying about getting out of the edge. To create a clipping mask, select the layers above the base layer, menu bar layer, "Create a Clipping Mask." Alright guys, that's all for this lesson. I hope you enjoyed it and had fun. Don't forget to post your progress in the project gallery. In the next video, we are going to make a little summary of what we have seen so far. See you in the next video. 8. Conclusion & Quick Summary: All right guys, that's all for this class. Hope you enjoy the next one. I'm looking forward to see your work in the project gallery. Not only your final art, but also your sketch and your character study. I want to see what you came up with and let me know if you have any doubts or question. Just post them under the discussion page and I'll get back to you. Now, a little summary of my tips. See you guys [MUSIC].