Scientific Illustration: Conveying Information with Charm | Christine Nishiyama | Skillshare

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Scientific Illustration: Conveying Information with Charm

teacher avatar Christine Nishiyama, Artist at Might Could Studios

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

12 Lessons (1h 6m)
    • 1. Trailer

    • 2. An Introduction to Whimsical Scientific Illustration

    • 3. How I Came to Find and Understand My Style

    • 4. How to Overcome the Dreaded Blank Page

    • 5. How to Start Sketching

    • 6. Drawing Tips to Keep in Mind

    • 7. Finalizing Your Concept and Drawing

    • 8. Working Digitally with Line and Value

    • 9. The Confusing World of Color

    • 10. Digital Coloring Techniques

    • 11. Create and Apply Your Own Textures

    • 12. Implementing Hand-Drawn Typography

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About This Class

In this course, you’ll learn how to take a scientific fact or concept and turn it into an exciting illustration that steps beyond reality, but still communicates the concept accurately.


You’ll learn about the steps of creating an illustration, including research, brainstorming, sketching, refining a drawing, and digital production in Photoshop. I'll also walk you through some illustration fundamentals that are often misunderstood including line, value, and color, to make your work as strong as possible.


Plus, I’ll address the number one question in art/illustration: how do I find my style? While I can’t tell you what your style is—it’s your own fingerprint after all—I will walk you through how I came to understand my own style and why I think it suits me, and perhaps it will help you get on the right track to discovering your own creative fingerprint!

Learn by doing

Choose a scientific concept that excites your curiosity. Research the concept, draw to understand, and create a final illustration that entices viewers with personality and charm, while rooted in fact and successfully explaining the concept.

Watch 11 video lessons

  • Researching and Thinking: Learn about whimsical scientific illustration + style.
  • Sketching to learn: Learn how to overcome blank-page-phobia + start sketching.
  • Refining the Drawing: Learn techniques for strengthening + finishing a drawing.
  • Working with Line, Value, and Color: Learn about values, linework + color theory.
  • Color, Texture + Hand-Drawn Type: Learn to work digitally with color, texture + type.




Check out my other Skillshare classes here!

You can also see more about me and my work on my website:

And you can sign up for my email list for weekly essays on creativity and artmaking!

Thanks so much! <3


Meet Your Teacher

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Christine Nishiyama

Artist at Might Could Studios

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Hallo! I'm Christine Nishiyama, artist + founder of Might Could Studios.

I make books and comics, and I draw a whoooole lot. I teach aspiring and established artists, helping them explore their art, gain more confidence, and discover their unique artistic styles.

My core belief is that art is good and we should all make more of it. 

Instagram: Yeewhoo, I quit all social media! 

Subscribe to my Substack newsletter: Join over 10,000 artists and get my weekly essays on creativity and artmaking, weekly art prompts, and behind-the-scenes process work of my current picture book. Subscribe here!

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1. Trailer: [MUSIC] Hi, I'm Christine Fleming, Illustrator at Might Could Studios. I work in both the science and journals markets. My work has appeared in a variety of projects, including magazines, literary magazines, science blogs, and educational workbooks. I'm also the artist in residence at [inaudible] where I've partnered with a team of scientists to interpret scientific concepts and illustrate subjects to further explain, add humor, and entice readers to the blog. This Cousera course is called scientific illustration, convey information with charm. When you hear the term scientific illustration, you must likely think of technical photorealistic drawings from textbooks or medical illustrations. Well, this probably makes up a majority of scientific illustration. It's not the only way, you can combine mind blowing scientific facts with your unique imagination to create charming illustrations that not only convey facts, but also get people excited about science. In this course, we will focus on how to inject personality into our expressive illustrations by first learning by drawing and then stepping away from reality. You'll learn how to go through the steps of creating an illustration, including researching, sketching, drawing, and digital production. I'll also show you many of my own personal Photoshop techniques for creating whimsical illustrations with bold colors and tantalizing textures. In addition, I will walk you through some illustration fundamentals that are often misunderstood, including line, tone, value, and color, to help make your drawings as strong as possible. Plus, I'll address the number one question in art and illustration, how do I find my style? Well, I can't tell you what your style is, it's your own fingerprint, after all. I'll walk you through how I came to understand my own style and perhaps it will help you get on the right track to discovering your own creative fingerprint. By the end of this course, you will have transformed a scientific fact into a fun and quirky illustration that communicates the concepts in a charming and original way. 2. An Introduction to Whimsical Scientific Illustration: Hey guys. This is Christine Fleming, and this is the first video in my class, scientific illustration, conveying information with charm. Thanks for signing up for this class, and let's get started. This video is called an introduction to Whimsical scientific illustration. What is illustration? In Andrew Loomis's book, Creative Illustration, he says the primary function of illustration is to make a graphic interpretation of an idea. I love this definition because it uses the word interpretation and not representation. To me, my job as an illustrator isn't just to represent the idea or concept that I'm given in an assignment. My job is to interpret the idea in my own way, and then illustrate my personal interpretation. In working this way, your illustrations will always add value instead of just repeating what the text has already stated. But when working in the scientific community, your interpretation has to be well-informed. Unlike in other fields, you probably shouldn't interpret the alpaca you're drawing, to have bright purple, or purpled up far, however awesome that might be. As scientific illustrators, we first have to research our subject, gather all the facts, and then we can exaggerate and expand upon those facts with our imagination. Here you can see an illustration I did of a blue whale. I'm showing this as an example of how careful you have to be when researching. I thought that I had researched enough about the blue whale to know that this is what they look like. But it was pointed out to me that this actually looks more like an orca whale than a blue whale. I had to revise the illustration to more obviously highlight the characteristics that make a blue whale, a blue whale. Here you can see the fins are smaller and the nose is more flat. So remember to research your subject thoroughly and make sure you're representing it accurately. I think drawing is one of the best tools we have to understand something. Even if you don't think you're good at drawing, just the act of attempting to draw something teaches you a lot about what the thing really is and what it really looks like. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, a German writer of botany, anatomy and color, once said, "You really do not see a plant until draw it." Have you ever noticed how weird an alpaca looks? If you go draw and then you'll really know. I enjoy drawing things that I don't understand, which amounts to a lot of things to draw. Because I come out on the other end of the illustration process with a little bit more understanding and a greater appreciation of just how weird the world is. When drawing something, you realize what is necessary to communicate the idea of that thing. What is its most important aspect, and what receives back into unimportance. Learning to see by drawing will teach you to see in a whole new way. You'll begin to see things in levels of importance. What stands out, what receives, what can be simplified, and what can be exaggerated. Often an illustration can represent the true character of something more than a photograph can, just because of this selective action by the artist. A photograph records everything without prioritizing. The artist can choose what to highlight, what to ignore, and what to embellish beyond reality. Some people suggest that you should stick to what you know in life. Draw what you know, write what you know. But I like drawing things that I don't know anything about. I only know a very limited number of things. So why would I stop there? I'm more inspired by things that I don't already know, and I love using the act of drawing to learn about new things. So let's continue on and learn more. 3. How I Came to Find and Understand My Style: This video is called, How I Came To Find And Understand My Style. The number 1 question, illustrators and probably all artists get asked is, how do I find my style? The short answer is, I don't know. But to dig a little deeper, what is an Illustrator style anyways? I believe an artist's style is like their creative handwriting. It's something that you're born with and that is truly uniquely you. But it's also something that has evolved over time. Have you ever looked back on your handwriting or signature from when you're in middle school? It definitely doesn't look like your handwriting now, I hope, but somehow it still looks like you, you hold your pencil in a certain way, see the world in a certain way, and interpret the world in your own unique way. All of that together adds up to produce your unique creative style. It's something that is innately you and is constantly evolving, just as you as a person are constantly evolving. So how do you find it? Honestly, the only way to find it, is to keep making stuff, keep drawing, keep painting, keep doing whatever it is that you do, and eventually things will start to repeat. You'll notice processes that seemed to come naturally to you. You'll notice yourself start to get into the meditative zone that some people call a flow. You'll start to see certain aspects of your work pop up and repeat themselves subconsciously. My only advice is to keep drawing. It's not new advice and maybe it's cliche, but it's really the only way to find yourself. It took me nearly two years of constant drawing, not including my entire childhood, to feel like I had somewhat of a cohesive style. I think generally an artist's style may be more obvious to others than it is to themselves. But to help you find your own style, I'm going to attempt to go through what I think my style is, and how it evolved. One aspect I think is central to my style, is beautifully articulated by Scott McCloud in his book, Understanding Comics. He has a concept called, amplification through simplification, where he says that, ''by stripping down an image to its essential meaning, an artist can amplify that meaning in a way that realistic art can't.'' I think this is something that I've been doing ever since I was young, along with probably every other kid, but never heard it put into words so well. My art is not realistic, I don't draw things perfectly, and I don't draw them all that true to life. But I think the way I draw them, is true to my interpretation of them. Through eliminating some details and abolishing others, I'm able to focus my illustration to show the real character of the subject, as well as injecting my personal way of seeing. By simplifying to amplify, I can focus the viewer's attention to allow them to see what I see. Another concept by McCloud, is when he describes universality. One way he describes this phenomenon is, the more cartoony a face is, the more people that could be said to describe. He goes on to talk about how we don't see ourselves the same as other people see us. Our mental picture of other people is pretty clear and accurate, but our mental picture of ourselves is vague and just a sense of general placement of our features, almost as if we were a simple illustration. McCloud says that, this is why people are attracted to cartoons and not so realistic illustration. When you see a photograph of a person, you see another person, when you see an illustration of another person, you see yourself. I think this concept is also central to my style. I wanted my illustrations to be visual representations of myself and my thought processes, but I also want other people to be able to relate to them and see themselves in them. For example, I drew this illustration of me, but if you're a girl with brown hair, which is a pretty common description, you might see it as yourself too. I also have a few visual aspects and techniques that I think are dominant in my style. These are things that have evolved over time and kept repeating themselves until I realized that they were as a group making that my style. I was trained as a graphic designer, so composition and whitespace are very important to me. I think illustrations need a lot of room to breathe, and I often prefer to have my subjects on a white background. I think it allows the subject to feel more boundaryless and more alive rather than contained in a box of color. But as always, sometimes rules have to be broken. I have this weird little pencil texture technique that I really love drawing. It came about naturally and I don't even remember when I started doing it in my illustrations, but now it just happens subconsciously. It's like the zigzag pattern, and I like joining it for hair and other detailed textures. Whenever I'm drawing this texture, I am almost instantly transported into that meditative flow style of mind. I could do it for hours and not realize how much time has passed. It's something that I don't have to consciously think about. I'm not planning now and thinking ahead about where this line will go or at what angle this line should be, it just flows from the tip of my pencil and somehow works itself out. When you find that, that thing that makes your mind go numb with contentment and your hands just move in all the right ways, grab onto it and stick with it. Keep doing that thing and it will evolve into a signature for you. I also learned over time, that I prefer to work with limited palettes of just two or three hues, bright colors, and delicate textures. I didn't know this years ago, but as I kept creating, I realized that I kept gravitating towards similar colors and textures. Don't hold yourself back, explore and experiment with everything, but also be aware of where you gravitate back to, and what appears naturally. Following those things, will lead you to your style. Just keep drawing and creating. As a final note, Nadia Boulanger , a French composer once said, "Don't speak to me of time, speak to me of desire." 4. How to Overcome the Dreaded Blank Page: This video is called How to Overcome the Dreaded Blank Page. Andrew Loomis in Creative Illustration said, "The creativeness is in the planning, pure and simple. The rest is good carpenter work." Illustration is about visualization, creating a visible image from an abstract idea. So that means you have to have a vision to start. But I'm going to let you in on a little secret, no one knows the perfect way to visualize something when they begin a new illustration. Someone told me recently that he thought artists have a picture in their mind from the very beginning whenever they draw, and that they are good at making an art, because they are able to successfully put that mental image in their head down on paper perfectly. Maybe some people work that way. But for me, I have no idea what I'm doing when I start drawing. I may have some vague idea in my head of what I want the drawing to look like, but it never turns out the way it looked in my head, and that's a good thing because the picture in my head was bad anyways. Usually when I begin drawing, I have no set idea in my head. I just start drawing and the lines begin to take shape and turn into interesting things. You've got to free your mind, and just start making marks on the page. As you draw, happy little accidents will occur and you have to seize upon those accidents. Notice what works and what doesn't as you draw, and eventually the pictures will evolve into something you never could have imagined in the beginning of the project. In my opinion, it's this ability to experiment, make mistakes, know each mistakes to keep that make someone a good artist. I believe anyone can draw, you just have to not think about it too much and put in the time to learn how the pencil moves in your hand, and how to be constantly observing and interpreting everything around you. These observations and interpretations will seep into your work and make your drawings personal. Walt Stanchfield in Drawn to Life said, "Drawing is not just putting lines on a paper. Constant observation, interpretation, curiosity, involvement and excitement. Developing an eye for similarities, contrast, subtleties, and being able to transpose all of the above into one." 5. How to Start Sketching: How to start sketching. Generally, the first few ideas you have or the first few things you draw will probably be boring and cliche. If someone told you to visualize love, you probably think of a heart, right? So cliche, so over done, so boring, but draw it anyways. Getting those cliche first thoughts down on paper will free them from your mind and let new original thoughts replace them. When sketching, don't turn anything down that pops into your head. Everything is worthwhile and is worth drawing during this phase. There are no bad ideas in the beginning. You never know where something might lead you. Don't worry about drawing perfectly right now. Sketching is the time to get all the ideas out of your head. Don't worry too much about making something look nice and don't feel bad if something turns out horrible. I think the key to successful sketching is to just not care. Think of this as the fun experimental phase in the project where there are no rules and if you want, no one will ever see what you draw. There's no pressure. Think of all the possibilities. I used to have a fancy Moleskine sketchbook and it took me forever to fill it because it just seemed too precious. I didn't feel like I could waste pages and make mistakes in such an expensive sketchbook with such a nice cover and lovely paper. Sketching is not a time to worry about the proper tools. I like drawing in really cheap sketchbooks that cost just a few $ and often draw in plain computer paper. Find what works for you. Draw in cheap paper, draw with a cheap pencil, do whatever you have to do to feel comfortable because that's when you let go and draw your best. 6. Drawing Tips to Keep in Mind: Drawing tips to keep in mind. There's a wonderful book on drawing called Drawn to Life, 20 Golden Years of Disney Master Classes Volume one, the Walt Stanchfield Lectures. Stanchfield was an animator at Walt Disney Studios and worked on films including The Jungle Book and The Aristocrats. He led an animator training class series at Disney Studios where he taught our current animator celebrities like Brad Bird and John Lasseter. Years after the classes, his lecture notes were published as a book and they are goldmine of drawing tips and inspiration. I'm going to outline some of my favorite tips here in this video but I highly recommend you read the book if you're looking for some tips on drawing with personality and originality rather than the usual drawing tips like a human body should be six heads high. Let's dive in. My favorite and most helpful tip from Stanchfield is something he states over and over in the book; "Draw gesture, not anatomy." He says this in many different ways; draw the whole pose, not body parts, draw verbs or actions, not nouns, draw ideas or story, not drawings or things. Basically, when you're sketching an action, for example, a man lifting a heavy object, you want to focus on the overall concept and not focus on drawing his fingers or shoes. You want to keep your drawing simple at this stage and get down the overall pose and action before diving into all the fine details. If the basis of your drawing isn't successful, all the amazing and unique details in the world won't be able to save it. Focusing on gesture and action helps bring vitality and life into your drawing. Think of it this way, you are drawing a button-down shirt worn by a man lifting a board, you're drawing a board being lifted by a man wearing a button-down shirt. In the beginning stages of drawing, try to focus on drawing the energy of the action happening rather than the individual body parts attached to the body. I like to begin sketching semi realistically. I don't draw in a photo realistic style. But if I'm drawing a spider, I'll start out looking at photo references and drawing it as I see it. At this stage in the project, it's okay to draw straight from the photo. These sketches are just for you to learn about the subject; how it looks and how it moves. They aren't going to be the end product. Once you've drawn the subject a few times and you feel like you have a good understanding of it, you can then start to step a bit away from reality. This is where you're able to inject your personality by interpreting what you've learned about the subject by drawing and observing it. You should now start to embellish your drawings, not drawing directly from your photo references. So how do you begin to step away from reality? Try a few of these techniques; avoid eveness when drawing, lines don't need to be straight and repeated parts don't need to be perfectly aligned. This is one reason why I will always sketch with paper and pencil instead of in Photoshop. It's just too easy to make things perfectly aligned and straight in Photoshop; I want all the imperfections. There's a term called Physiognomy; the art of discovering temperament and character from outward appearance hence inner character as revealed outwardly. This is what we're trying to achieve in our sketches right now. You understand the subject, you've drawn it accurately, now you need to start pulling its character out and emphasizing its personality by embellishing the drawing a bit and stepping away from actuality. Push your sketch farther than reality. Draw that spider bigger than it actually is, make its eyes huge to add some humanity and cuteness. You can even make it smile if you want to. Or take it the other way, give your spider tiny menacing eyes, long spindly legs and matted hair. One thing to keep in mind in this stage is to still be aware of your photo references. Depending on your initial concept or assignment it may be important to stick to a few particular characteristics of your subject. For instance, maybe it's important that I'm drawing a specific species of spider and the length of the legs is important in identifying that species. You want to push your drawing beyond reality, but still have it based on fact and still communicating your concept accurately. Push your drawing as far as you can, but realize that you may have to scale them back again to maintain successful communication. Another good way to step away from reality is to abstract the subject. To abstract something is to reduce it down to only the essential elements. You want to drop a majority of the detail out leaving only the necessary and most indispensable parts. If you have a hard time thinking visually, try describing your concept in words and write it down. For example, "I'm going to draw a spider running across the floor." Then add some adverbs to your sentence; "I'm going to draw a spider bravely running across the floor". Now you've got a little something extra to inspire some personality in your drawing. Drawing adverbs tells how the action is happening and answer why it's happening. This creates a story. Remember, we're drawing actions, not nouns, and story, not things. 7. Finalizing Your Concept and Drawing: Finalizing your concept and drawing. This is the last stage in our project before we move into the digital world. Now's the time to get your drawing as close to final as we can before we go digital. You can always redraw and rescan or draw straight on the computer, but it's more efficient to get the joint right before we move into the computer. You should have a final sketch of your concept. Now let's take that final sketch through to final drawing. You can choose your favorite medium for your final drawing, pencils, pens, markers. I usually finish my drawings in pencil, but sometimes choose pen. I have a light box that I used to trace my original sketch lightly onto a new sheet of paper. If you drew your sketch in a sketchbook, you can take a photo of the sketch and print it out so that can be more easily traced. You want to just lightly trace your sketch to get the form down on paper. Then remove the sketch underneath and redraw over the light lines freehand. I used to trace my entire sketch at once in pen or dark pencil. But the act of tracing tensed me up and my final drawing was consistently less natural and organic than my sketch. It's hard sometimes to capture the spontaneity and the aliveness of the sketch in a final drawing. But I found that lightly tracing the sketch and then redrawing it freehand makes this process much more successful. If you're inking, you may decide that you want to trace the entire drawing line for line. Try both techniques and see what you prefer. If you don't have a light box, you can just use your window. Tape up your sketch, tape another piece of paper on top, and then trace. Also before you continue on, now is a good time to remind yourself of your concept again. Are you still on the right track? Does your drawing still communicate the original concept accurately and quickly? Sometimes it's easy to go on a detour and not realize it. Just do a little quick check before you move on. As you're finalizing your drawing, you should keep some basic drawing techniques in mind. Here's some things to think about when you're drawing. Simplify your sketch where possible, this is pretty self-explanatory. Don't draw details for no reason. Avoid tangent lines. Tangent lines are when two lines come together to make an unintended relationship. In this example below, of a pie sitting on a table, you can see a line detour on the counter behind the table, runs into the line of the back of the table. Tangents like this are awkward because they destroyed depth. This problem could be fixed by just moving the table up a little bit so that the two lines don't meet. You straights against curves. Contrasting straight lines against curved lines helps create depth. The T rule is used when one thing is in front of another, most often when a person's neck runs into their chest. See how in this illustration the neck and the chest makes a T. Using this row creates depth. Avoid start repetitions, repeating things exactly is boring. Be sure to vary shapes, sizes, and directions to add interest to your work. Avoid parallels, parallel lines lack interest. This drawing would be much more interesting if the table was at Marvin angle so the lines in the rug and table weren't parallel to each other. Think about the composition of your drawing. Is it balanced? Does your eye flow through easily? Do you have a focal point? It's usually a bad idea to place the focal point exactly in the center of your picture area. It's also usually a bad idea to have diagonals that go through the corners of your composition. It tends to look unnatural and distracting. In this illustration, you can see that there are no diagonal lines passing through the corners. You can test the strength of your composition by looking at it and silhouette. Fill in all the areas to solid black and see if the abstract composition that this creates looks pleasant. You can do this easily by choosing image in the menu bar and photoshop, then adjustments, then levels, and then just drag the arrow on the graph all the way over to the right. This will fill everything in with black. This is a good way of forcing yourself to see the shapes and not your drawing, almost as if you're seeing it with a fresh pair of eyes. 8. Working Digitally with Line and Value: Working digitally with line and value. So what is the purpose of a line? Lines can add aesthetic appeal, divide an area, defined form, and focus attention. Line is the outline or contour, while tone is the form or space. Because of this difference, lines can sometimes flatten artwork. Each artist has their own style and how they approach line work. Some have strong bold line work, some have line work that comes and goes, some don't use lines at all. How you choose to work with lines is totally up to you. It's a personal choice and one that will probably evolve over time. Andrew Loomis says creative illustration. He states that in his opinion, "contour cannot be continuously defined around all units and a sense of space achieved. If the edge is kept hard all around, it cannot avoid sticking to the picture plane, losing the feeling of space." Loomis says this as if it's fact, though I'm sure there are many artists that would debate him on this. There are tones of artists and illustrators who use lines all the way around their work very successfully. Hardly, any role in art is always correct, and every opinion is worth debating. But I agree with Loomis on this point in relation to my own work. In my illustrations, I generally have strong line work, but I also utilize the technique of disappearing and reappearing lines. Something Loomis calls lost and found. In other words, I don't keep all the lines from my final drawing in my final illustration. I keep some, and erase some, and I think this adds a sense of realism to my otherwise unrealistic illustration, and allows me to hold onto some of the freedom and looseness of the original sketch. Loomis argues that lines do appear in nature, but that they are lost and found an interlaced or woven into other areas in nature. This is what I seek to achieve in my work, interlacing the lines and weaving them into the areas of my piece. I'll show you how to achieve this in Photoshop in the digital coloring techniques video. So what is value? Value is the level of intensity and a color. Think of a black and white scale applied to a color scale like this comparison. The most intense color is in the middle of the value scale. The color lightens as the value increases on the scale, and darkens as it decreases its value. If you can't successfully work with values, color is going to be even more of a struggle. It's often a good idea to do value studies in gray-scale before you begin planning your color. This will give you a good basis for choosing colors using your color value scale. Colors close in value regardless of hue, will tend to merge. To achieve contrasts, you have to consider value in addition to hue. Yellows, oranges, and light greens are generally high values, but the purples, reds, browns, and dark blues are generally low values. Let's look at an example of good and bad value use. This is an illustration I made a little while back. I was trying to make the setting around dusk when the sun is setting, and I loved my color palette, but was really struggling with the values. You can see my value study in the bottom left, and how the values don't have too much contrast and are blind together, which then ends up happening in the final illustration on the right as well. The colors I used are bright, but the values were making them muddy. Now look at the value steady in the bottom left, and has a much stronger contrast. The contrast changed a bit too, but choosing stronger and more contrasting values really make each value stand out on their own, making the overall piece much stronger. Here are the two values studies next to each other. So you can see the differences. You can see in the more successful value use on the right, that the darks have been pushed darker, and the lights have been pushed lighter. This provides more contrast and makes for stronger values and therefore stronger color. We'll talk more about using value in the next video. 9. The Confusing World of Color: The confusing world of color. Color is a tricky subject. It's highly subjective, and the possibilities especially when working digitally are limitless, which is sometimes more daunting than free. First off, let's understand that colors are highly relative. By this I mean, a color looks how it looks only because of its relationship to the other colors around it. The relativity of color can also be described as influence. A color can influence its neighbor to make that color appear different. For example, look at these orange squares. The color of the small square in the first pair appears darker than the color of the small square and the second pair. But they're actually the same color, the background color in each pair was influencing the color of the small square to make it appear lighter or darker in creating a sort of optical illusion. When talking about studying color and interaction of color, Josef Albers says, "Our concern is the interaction of color; that is seeing what happens between color." So we can't just study colors on their own because colors are never seen alone. We have to study the interaction of the colors and how they influence each other. Let's start with the basics. There are three primary colors: red, yellow, and blue. By mixing the primaries and pairs, we now have the secondary colors: green, violet, and orange. Then by mixing each with its neighbor, we get six more colors called the tertiary colors. Red orange, yellow orange, yellow green, blue green, blue violet, and red violet. This gives us the 12th colors of maximum intensity or brilliance, which is such a wonderful word. If we add black and white, we now have our full color, and color value scale. The maximum intensity from original color wheel is in the center of the wheel. A tint is when the color is mixed with white, increasing it's lateness or value. The tints can be seen towards the inside of our color wheel, as the colors approach white. A shade is when a color is mixed with black, reducing its lightness or value. The shapes can be seen towards the outside of our color wheel as the colors approach black. Here is the full color wheel again with the maximum intensity, tints and shades. As our view, a tint is increased value and a shade is decreased value. The tone is when a colors mixture of Grey, which can increase or decrease its lightness depending on the color. It's like applying a gray scale to your original color scale. Here's an example of a tone of color scale on the right. People often decide that they want their illustration to be really bright and colorful. So to achieve that, they use many different colors in the brightest intensities that they can. Well, if so many bright colors mingling together, it really becomes muddy with the colors neutralizing each other out. To give brightness in your illustration, you have to consider value, harmony, and contrast. Let's go through each one of these concepts individually. It's difficult to make a picture colorful and achieve brightness by using all pure color, meaning all maximum intensity, primary and secondary color. We need greatness and softness as a contrast to the brilliant areas. Often the beauty of color lies in warm and cool variation, in the grade and muted color, along with the pure and brilliant. So don't be afraid to tone or grade your colors. Brightness as with color is also relative. A color has more brightness next to a Grey color than it was next to a bright colored. In this illustration seems here of a bacteria, both colors have been great a bit and are not used in their maximum intensity. Toning the red color increase the value, and toning the blue color, decrease the value. When looking at the black and white version of the image, you can see that the values are contrasting well because of their tone. There is also a good contrast of warm to cool colors. In creative illustration, let me says he believes, "Pictures both on a few basic values, a light, one or two middle values, and a dark will seldom go dead." So when working with values, you don't have to go crazy or feel overwhelmed, just start with a few basic values and work from there. It will do wonders for your color. Primary colors at their highest intensity will always fight each other. This is because they don't have any ingredients and comment and therefore don't have any harmony. For example, red doesn't have any green in it, and green doesn't have any red in it. When placed next to each other they compete and vibrate. We create harmony by adding some of one color into the other color. Here, I doubled the red a bit of some green, and already it's looking much better. Painters will often create harmony in our color palette by painting them to an undertone. In Photoshop, we can use a similar technique if we're having trouble with our colors, not harmonizing. Let's take a look. Here is an illustration of a group of ants trying to avoid a flood. Let's say I'm unhappy with the colors. The blues aren't really harmonizing well together, and maybe the red is a little too contrasting. One way to quickly add harmony to your color palette is to make a layer of one of your colors overlay on top of the entire illustration. To do that, I'll zoom in here, and a high-intensity blue from this zigzag pattern. You can play around with different colors in your pace to see which works best. I'll choose my eyedropper tool, which can be seen here, and also by hitting the keystroke "I", and I'll take this color right here. Then I'll make a new layer either by clicking here or hitting the keystroke Command Shift in, and then name it blue overlay. Then with the pink bucket, which is keystroke G, also on our new layer with the blue color I just collected. With this layer selected under blending modes, which can be seen here, I'll choose Overlay. Overlaying a little bit of one color onto your illustration influences all the other colors and creates relationship and harmony by giving all the colors of common ingredient. Once you've applied the overlay, all you have to do is experiment with the capacity level, choosing how much blue you want to overlay. It's a bit much at 100 percent. Here's where you can play around with the opacity level. I think about 45 percent looks good here. See how you still have variety and contrasts, but all the colors seem to harmonize pattern, even here zoomed on this ant, you can see that the blue overlaid and shadow, which gives more relationship to the other blues. Creating an overlay on your illustration is a good way and a good tool to find harmony. But I don't advise using it as a fix off or go to work with color. It can be difficult to continue working on your illustration or change colors once you've applied an overlay, because now your individual layers aren't representing the color shown. This is more of a way to figure out color early on in the process or early on in your illustrating days, when you're still finding out how to make harmony. Moving on to achieving greatness through contrast. Complimentary colors will provide the most color contrasts. The primary complement of a color is the color farthest away from it on the color wheel containing many of the other color. For example, red's complement is green, and green is made up of yellow and blue, so it contains no grade. Then it follows that yellow's complement is violet, and blues complement is orange. The secondary complements are colors farthest away from the spectrum, but containing a same ingredient. The secondary compliments have less color contrast than the primary compliments, but the less extreme is sometimes a better choice. Yellow greens complement is red violet, and both contain the color blue. Blue greens complement is red orange, and blue violet's complement is yellow orange. You can use the complimentary colors in your palette to help increase contrast and therefore increased brightness in your illustrations. As I mentioned before, color choice is very subjective, and a matter of personal style. A lot of times, the most colorful and brilliant illustrations are those with less color than those with a huge range of color. In my work, I tend to work with pretty limited palettes using only two or three hues and sometimes only one. I find this gives my work a cookie so feeling, and the colors are brighter, making more of an impression than they might if they had company. Here are some tips on improving bland color palettes. Try graying all, but one of your colors, which will allow that color to appear more intense. Create value studies and try using as few values as possible. After making your values studies, experiment with color choices by making a quick little color studies in Photoshop, like the example seen here. Just paint swaths of your color over your pencil drawing in Photoshop to see how quickly the colors interact. Don't worry about being neat, you're just looking at how the colors influence and contrast each other. Try reducing your palate to only two or three hues. You can still use various tints, shades, and tones of those hues. Try not to use primaries at their full intensity as they tend to overwhelm all other colors. Try adding gray, black, or white as one of your chosen colors. Last but not least, be careful using black in your color palette. It can be used well, but I can also dull the colors around it. If you think you're black is dulling your colors, try using a very dark blue or brown instead of black. 10. Digital Coloring Techniques: Digital coloring techniques. Coloring your illustration in Photoshop is pretty simple once you've figured out your color palette. Everyone has their own way of coloring, whether they're in Photoshop, Illustrator, or painting traditionally, the options are limitless. But for this class, I'm going to take you through my process of coloring an illustration in Photoshop. This is by no means the best or only way to work. It's just what works for me. Feel free to experiment and find your own way. Here's my ink drawing of this little wobbly raccoon guy. I'm showing you something simple so I can take you through all the steps in real time, and just fast-forward a little bit through the coloring. I've got my swatches up here that I already decided on. You can organize and delete, such as here by clicking the "Preset Manager." I'm going to make a new layer for each color in my palate, and then I'm going to label them appropriately. It's really important to always label your layers. It makes everything really easy and as you keep going with more complicated illustrations, you can get a lot of layers, and you need to know which ones to be clicking on. I've also got my linework here set to multiply. This means that when I've color in a layer underneath the linework, it's transparent. If I don't have this set to multiply, then a white background is over top and I can't see the color that I just painted. Now I'll just select the right layer and the right color, and then zoom in and start layering down the color. You can choose your brush by hitting the keystroke "B," or seeing them up here. I usually stick to either the default hard or soft brush, because right now I'm just trying to lay down color. I'm not focusing on brushstrokes or texture or anything like that. I just want flat colored. Now I'll just go through and color. Now fast-forward just a bit. Now I've got all my color applied. One reason why I have a different layer for each color, is if I decide later on that I want to change a color, it makes it very easy. I can just choose, say, this medium blue, and so I want it to be a little bit darker. I've already painted everything and I don't want to have to paint it again. I can just go into this layer style by double-clicking the layer, then hit "Color Overlay." Then you can see that everywhere it was dark just change color. You can hit this little box, and now choose the color you want to apply to that area. See. That's it with coloring. There are millions of different Photoshop brushes out there that you can download and play with. Some are really interesting, and I've tried a lot of different ones, but I generally prefer to use the plain, hard round, and soft round brushes IN Photoshop the most, and get my texture from scanned in painting textures. But, lots of other artists use a wide range of digital brushes, and I do use them occasionally. If you're interested in trying out different brushes, I would recommend checking out Kyle T Webster's brush packs. He offers a lot of amazing brushes that he spent a lot of time and energy reflecting. His happy HB, a pencil brush, and a couple of his watercolor brushes are my favorites, and they're not that expensive at all. As I mentioned in the line and value video, I use a technique of disappearing and reappearing lines, something Andrew Lewis calls Lost and Found. In other words, I don't keep all the lines from my final drawing and my final illustration. I erase some and keep some, interlacing them together with areas of color. Lets go back to our little raccoon. Once I have the overall color laid down, I'll start playing around with the lines. Which lines can be erased? Which lines are necessary for area distinction? I'll just choose my linework. Make sure you save a copies of immediate go back, you still have your lines. Then I'll go in, and probably I usually erase the lines that are on the outside of the illustration. I've got the ends of the color here, so I don't really need them to define the space. You can play around with how you want your lines to connect with your color. Sometimes I'll taper them out at the ends. Usually I'm not really sure until the end. You probably don't really need the lines around this nose, it's a different color, and I don't really need these here. I'm just seeing which ones I need and which ones I don't. I don't want to have unnecessary lines. I think these will be important to make the eyes really stand out. This line here is going to be important because it's separating his head from his body, so I think I'll keep that one. Again, this line is on the outside, and this line has a pretty deep color distinction. I don't think I'm need any of these. Sometimes you might need to clean up the lines a little bit. I think that looks pretty good. Now you can see that there are some discrepancies here where I was painting under the line and they couldn't see. You can go back and just clean everything up a little bit. If you'd like to color your lines, you can apply a clipping mask to your lying layer. You can do this by just making a new layer, and holding your "Option" button, and hovering right between the two layers, you'll see this little icon pop up. Click right there, and now we've got clipping mask where this layer is only applied to this layer. Nothing you do here will be applied to any of the other layers. Now we can choose a color. I think I'll choose something a little darker than this blue, and set this layer to screen. Then we can paint right on top of our lines, and you can see that the color is applied to the line. You can decide if you want something a little darker maybe. You can do different line colors in different areas, only that all needs to be darker. Just play around. I think that's about it for lines. 11. Create and Apply Your Own Textures: Creating and applying your own textures. Why use handmade textures? I think that sometimes fully digital work can appear inhuman, uptight or dull to inject some humanity and allow our hand come through. We did hand-draw everything after all. I like to create and use my own painted textures in my work. I'm going to show you how to go about making your own painting textures. Even when you do this, you should make a lot of different textures. You can always go back and make more if you needs something specific. But it's nice to have a little library of your own textures that you've created to work with immediately with future projects. I've also found that using the same texture library in different pieces can help your whole body of work be more cohesive. I'll take you through the first steps of actually making in scanning the texture here in the slides. Then I'll go through a screencast of how to work with the files in Photoshop. The first step is to paint your texture using your preferred medium. I like to paint mine on 8.5 by 11 size paper so that I have a large file medium, but the size is up to you. It's good to try out different types of paper because the paper will come through on the texture too. I usually prefer to use watercolor paper, because of the rough texture you get under the paint. You can even try out nonpaper materials like painting on wood. Paint loosely in broad strokes, covering large areas of the paper. Broad applications of color are perfect for applying to illustrations. You can experiment with different paints, strokes, colors, brush sizes, try everything. I usually use wash paint because I prefer the flexibility. I also like to paint each texture in one color, meaning not multiple colors on one sheet, because I want to be able to manipulate the color easily when I'm using it in Photoshop. Once you've got your textures painted and dried, scan them into your computer as a JPEG at 600 dpi. This will give you a large file that you can always scale down if you need to for different illustrations. Here's our icon again. All you have to do is go to "File" and "Place", then choose your texture, and scale and rotate however you'd like. I'm going to put this one at an angle. You can always edit it later on. Then we're going to rasterize the texture, and name it. Then bring it right above the color layer that you want to apply it to and duplicate this color layer. Bring the duplicate above the texture and layer it "Hue". Now you can turn that layer off for now. We're going to go back to our texture and apply clipping mask to our color layer. Now you can see that the texture has been applied to that layer, but our color is gone. That's where this layer comes in. You turn it back on and set that layer to a blending mode of either "Hue" or "Color." These both generally do the same thing, but depending on the color that you're applying it to, one may work better than the other. Here's what "Hue" looks like and here's color. For this one I prefer color. It's a little bit more grade. Then we'll go back to our texture and we can start playing around with blending modes. You could leave it just like this, it looks pretty nice, or you can also try and multiply any of these really, "Overlay", "Soft Light", "Hard Light", and "Pin Light." Those are some of my favorites. I'm going to use "Pin Light" for this one. You can also play around with the opacity if you don't want it to be so strong and more subtle. But I like the same kind of strong, maybe 95, and that's it. You can apply different textures to different colors, it's nice to have different ones in different directions, and add some variety and interest to the piece. 12. Implementing Hand-Drawn Typography: Implementing hand-drawn typography. I often hand draw any text in my illustrations. As with the textures, I think it adds humanity and charm. They help inject my personality into the piece, as well as move away from a purely digital looking illustration. Here's a little secret about hand-drawn typography. You can let existing typefaces help you, especially if you're drawing simple text and not using typefaces that are display type. First, I'll type out the text I want and leave it as type text while I work on the rest of the illustration. I draw the type last because it ends up moving around and changing a lot throughout the process and it's most efficient to just draw it once. Once you have the final illustration, remove everything but the type and rearrange them so they fit closely together. Then print them out, put them on a light box and trace. If you don't have a lightbox, you can use a window. Here's my tiny little lightbox on the left when I was inking some of my printed out pencil drawings and then on the right is my window tracing set-up that I had used before I got my lightbox. You want to draw the type pretty small so that the type doesn't end up looking that close to the actual typeface. The point here isn't to copy the design of the typeface, it's to get the right spacing and alignment in your words and letters. Perfect spacing and alignment isn't as important in your drawing, but in typography it is. You want all your texts to be highly legible and clear, so spacing is key. After you've drawn the words how you like, which will probably take a few different chance, scan them into your computer as a grayscale, 600 dpi JPG. Let's do the last screencast of our class. Here's our reckon. All we have to do is go to File, Place, choose our type image that we scanned in and scale it down to however you'd like. Then we rasterize our layer and name it. I'd like to bring you to the very top and set to multiply just in case you want to do something behind it, that white background won't be there anymore. You can also add color to the type just like we did with our lines here, and create a new layer, make a clipping mask, and set it to screen. Then choose a color and brush over the area you want to color. That might be a little light. That's it. I hope you learned a few new things from this class and thanks again for taking it. Hopefully, you've been posting process along the way and I can't wait to see what you all come up with.