Commercial Illustration: Creating a City Postcard with Gouache and Photoshop | Anna Sokolova | Skillshare

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Commercial Illustration: Creating a City Postcard with Gouache and Photoshop

teacher avatar Anna Sokolova, Berlin-based Artist

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.



    • 3.

      Idea and principles


    • 4.

      Painting elements


    • 5.

      Scanning and working with outlines


    • 6.



    • 7.

      Adding textures


    • 8.

      Setting the type and file for print


    • 9.

      Creating your own artwork


    • 10.

      Final thoughts


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About This Class

In this class, I'll take you through my step-by-step process to create a commercial illustration for a Berlin postcard.

We’ll combine two worlds of physical and digital to create a soulful authentic product, like using traditional gouache paint to add an artistic feel to our work. The technique combines hand-drawn textures with Photoshop resulting in a wonderful print-ready postcard that can be used as merchandise or as a gift.

By the end of this class, you’ll learn some important principles of commercial illustration and incorporate them in your own work. Both advanced and beginner creatives can benefit from this class!

Meet Your Teacher

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Anna Sokolova

Berlin-based Artist

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Anna Sokolova is an award-winning illustrator and artist based in Berlin, Germany.

Anna works with mixed media and is inspired by merging the traditional and innovative approaches in arts. A member of the NYC Society of Illustrators, Anna often collaborates with other international and local pro... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hi, my name is Anna Sokolova, and I'm a Berlin-based artist and illustrator. Your great feedback has encouraged me to make future classes. Today, we're going to be creating a commercial illustration for a post card. I've been creating different types of merchandise for a long time, and believe me, it's such a great feeling when you see your printed works in the bookstores, in the airport, or on posters representing your city. In this class, I'll show you how to combine two worlds of physical and digital to create that soulful, authentic product. I'll be using garage paint to add a special artistic feel to our work. We'll also talk about some important principles of commercial art to be successful. I used these principles at this postcard I've created recently, which are sold in the Metro stores and even in museums in St. Petersburg. Some tricks like unusual clouds or bold colors or bird's eye view can work really well. The most amazing thing, I've got a contest for you, create your own city postcards and post it before April 15th. The lucky winner will get a small printed edition of his work. Thanks for watching and see you in the next video. 2. Materials: You'll be needing this simple materials: Watercolor paper. I'm using the very cheapest. Well, it's just the usual watercolor thick paper, red or white; Then you'll be needing brushes, of course. It's the usual watercolor brushes, number 8 and number 2, I am using this on all of my works. It's shouldn't be very fancy too; and the old post [inaudible] frame or something that looks like it I just using the frame; and the most exciting, the gouache tubes. So at first, I decided which colors to use. I have the colors here and the white separate. Well, you may ask me why gouache and not watercolor? It's a matter of taste, but I like the bold, oily effect gouache provides. It's very opaque and dense and you can make a layer, after layer, after layer. It's really a nice effect. You also have to know how to use Photoshop and in the class material section, you'll find the license free formed and use for the postcard. It's really helpful. 3. Idea and principles: As commercial illustrators, we often don't have time for traditional media. But paint to try or common [inaudible] I wish we had, but I'm always trying to add some traditional element to our artwork. Well, what's the most important for souvenir card? Let's see. First, you should have a clear landmark or attraction you're going to show. The postcards should have a recognizable city symbol in it. It should also have a clear, bold, and impressive composition. Just remember, a person has only couple of seconds when browsing the store. So the design should be very eye-catching, but stylish. The last but not least, of course the font with a city name on it. So for this Berlin postcard, I'm looking for inspiration everywhere in the city, and I decided to draw a famous Alexanderplatz tower and to add a tram, to add some interest. I decided to use bold colors, but at first, of course, I made a black and white drawing. You can see it's right here. I just used the usual marker, you can use inks or whatever you like. So let's move to the next video. 4. Painting elements: Let's try our new friends and make some texture and maybe draw birds. Let's see. I'm taking gouache for drawing the sky. We won't be needing some big amount of paint. I like to use everything with white, but you can just use it with water to make it more light. I think we'll also be using it for trees, maybe for skies, but I'm not sure. This is one of my favorite colors, and the quality of the Schmincke gouache is awesome. I strongly advise you to try it. One more color. I think it's enough. I want the sky to be a bit texture, but not very rough. You can mix the colors on your palette or straight on paper, well, and the final is going straight on paper. Just take a lot of paint, and don't be afraid to move it boldly. Remember, these things are totally optional. You can follow my steps or you can make your own textures. I will move white here. You can even draw colors on it afterwards. I want the sky to be darker, usually, it's darker on the top and it's getting lighter. I think for our card, it will be enough. We'll be using this for sky. The next thing I will do is leaves. We have orange and yellow. Of course, they're called tangerine and other word, but to be simple. Let's just mix it a bit. We have some usual trees here, so I will just make some strokes. It doesn't matter how you make them. They can be pretty rough. But just remember to keep the direction of the leaves, unless you want to get a very artistic effect. But just don't add blue here. Don't mix these colors, you want like the green you'll get, believe me. Maybe some points. All this textures work pretty good for almost any trees. You can see it on the postcard, we're making it here, here, here, and here, and using Photoshop, you can create different layer options. It can work very precise or very loose. I think that's enough for trees. Maybe add a little more grass, maybe not. I don't know yet. It's a very simple actions. Anyone can do that and it's very satisfying to see it in print afterwards. Our gouache is getting dry, and I'm taking the second sheet of paper. I'll change this. We'll dry. Here, I think we can draw some birds. Well, I'm not sure if I'm going to use it in the final version, but it's nice to draw them. Our small friend is flying somewhere, and he has another friend, maybe some more friends. Who knows? Just don't forget, in the final version, you should add some different shadows on different wings. Here should be the lighter than here, depending on where the light falls. Maybe some members. Remember, I showed you the old [inaudible] I have. If you don't have the old one, you can create a simple square shape of anything, like to cut the paper just with squares, and nothing fancy. I'll be using the frame. In our postcards, I want to add some nice frame. This part makes it easier for me. I'm showing you my process, and you can adapt it to your work as you like. Well, we have here really awesome angle. We can start drawing and making the frame right away. The combination of the orange and the yellow will then bring in Photoshop a really nice effect. You can repeat this several times. You can make it really loose. You can draw lines. Anything like that. Don't forget the gouache is really opaque and really dense. If you're drawing something with water, you just can use this bold effects, and draw really beautiful waves. It can be very hypnotizing. I just love this color. Usually, I'm using the free space of the paper to fill it with anything that comes to the mind. So you now know what you're going to be using at the end. Some experimentations. Like you see, this demo looks like oil a little bit, which is awesome. For drawing a harbor, it can be very effective. We're going to draw a couple of birds here. Just [inaudible] , and it can reach at the bottom of any postcard. That's it. Let's move to the next video. 5. Scanning and working with outlines: Welcome back. We're inside the machine. I scanned all the wonderful textures we've made, different, different and I scanned all with these specifications. Usually, I scan with 600 DPI because I like to scale it in both whatever possible, and I prefer always to choose the highest option. Let's go to Photoshop. I'm using the very old version, so don't be scared. We don't need this anymore. I'm sure you all know how to scan. Here's the file I'll be working with. Back again. You probably know that postcard should be really small, but I prefer to work at the A5 format. I'll show you how I made this file. File, New, just choose this paper size, and then I set the guides. Guidelines here, here, and here. As you know, the card should be carded afterwards, so we need to leave some additional space. We go to Image, Canvas Size. It's very important for this to be chosen and we will leave about three millimeters on each side, which makes it six, six. Sorry, we want the background to be white. Once again, here, here. This is the file I'm working on. Later on, I'll make it a small file when we'll be preparing everything for print. Don't save. It's just the same file, and I'll turn off the ruler comment arrow so it won't distract us. Here's our Berlin picture. Usually, I work like this. There are several parts of the illustration, I divide them, and then I color each part in the separate color, so it will look more artistic. Before I work on the color, I usually choose the color palette. Here you can see I made swatches with some colors of my choice, and now I'm going to make this. So trees, I think the trees should be really dark like this. Why not? Well, like this, color overlay, and now it works. Maybe even darker. The tower should be a bit more, I think something like this, and the tram. Well, I chose this too red I think, the earth tone can be working good. Color only. I think it's good and the same color works for the long trees. So I just copy their style and pass it here. Well, what do I have? I have birds. The birds should be maybe like this, like red color overlay. I think that makes a good composition. Now we're ready to continue with coloring. See you in the next video. 6. Coloring: So you see, I've prepared my artwork. On the left, you can see the ready postcard and here's the file we're working on. Well, I decided to use some sketches to add clouds on this page, so I will see how composition looks like. I put all our outline in one folder, so it won't disturb us anymore, and I'm creating the new layer and just color our illustration. It will take some time, so just prepare. I'm using the simple brush. I will switch off the colors, so they won't be very annoying. Well, now, I see that I would like to change the color of the earth a bit, let's change it. Yeah, they look much better. There should be difference anyway, so let's move forward. It'll take lots of time, maybe. Working on the ground. These parts will be cut off later, I'll adjust, so we don't have to be picture perfect, just color, trees. It can be like meditation. There are some artists they like to paint over the small details, again and again, but, well, I'm not just ready for it, I prefer bold colors and grapevines. You can just neutralize the [inaudible] a bit. Well, I know I just use the color to pick colors right from our example, but I want to show it closer, the way I really do it. Our train, our new friend, I can't wait to work with textures, that's my favorite part. This will be cutoff too. That's someone's, doesn't actually matter. Well, depending on your style, you can work very precise or on the contrary very loose, so I'm just here to show you the principles and to show how I work. [inaudible] don't have any end. Well, it's only before a tutorial, usually when you're coloring something, it can be really relaxing. You can spend hours and hours doing that without that conscience because you're actually at work. You're working and you're earning money for drawing, which is already a win, I think. You see how we do the nice coloring and now it's really helpful and we can change it. It's much, much easier. First, I did it always with the black color, but now I see that I really like how you can paint with different inks. Here, you can play with different colors and it's much faster and easier than other inks. Okay, Mr. Tree, we are almost finished with you. Let's go to the bushes. You add here. I will be more precise because sometimes it helps to add some small spaces in the trees. You know we're not painting every leaf, of course. We're painting mainly with shapes, which means we should leave a hint of some spaces between the tree branches. Some patience and we're almost done. What I have here, no, maybe I didn't choose anything more detailed. This whole part goes with this color. Anxious, I don't know what I want right with me right now. Well, everything depends on your style. So if you want to work precise, you can work on every detail per your own time and according to your style or you can even make everything with shapes and that's what I design. It's absolutely a matter of taste, so there's no rules, right or wrong decisions. Just like you're satisfied or not and it doesn't look good for your purpose for a commercial art on the postcards in this case. Some different colors to define the road. Just brush it from the cut off to part one make it till the very end. I need a bigger brush for that. Sometimes it's helpful to use some watercolor brushes or other digital tool stuff that helps. Well, I'm a fan of using the simple tools whatever possible, because then I can work on every version of the software in every software, it doesn't matter. The skill is the most important and it's just a tool. They can paint in Excel too. Here, just a little bit, now I'm good. Not so straight line. So what's left is the tower, it shouldn't be more red I think. Well, maybe we should use a gradient for the tower, what do you think? Maybe, let's try. I will make a separate layer for that and just will color it separately. We will see if you will like it or not and we'll move forward to the next part. Tower is usually a symbol of Berlin, there are so many tourists there. They're like, I didn't want to say insects, I mean, tons of them. So I'm just using the B-pattern to go with that. Well, I think I have a clear idea of what I am doing. I have there some houses which belong to the same scene. I now want to enter another layer, yeah, and the small one here. Here along so we did it. We already have really nice colors. We should select using command and clicking on the Layer and maybe we will use the gradient. We can do it differently if we can make it from here. Well, on just the simple gradient overlay, why not? Well, there are several ways to do that and I'm sure you know them all. So I'm just showing you the process. Well, yeah that looks like a gradient. Now, we did the main colors and come on there, no selection and we move to the next step. See you in the next video. 7. Adding textures: Welcome back. So now is the most interesting part. As you can see, I worked a little bit on our work. So I've added some details to the train, but I still need to add a design. I have painted the birds. Well, I think this is it. So I just used the usual brush in our layer to make it. Maybe I should even add more shadows here, here. You see, they're very simple. Here I want to leave a sign on the train. So usually, it's M10 [inaudible]. Okay. Maybe, some shadows on the tower. So I select the layer. I'm pressing command and click on the layer. So we will choose some lighter color, and for this stuff, I'm using this kind of brush. It really lets you control the pressure. So if you don't want to get a lot of color, it's very comfortable. You know the tower is glowing sometimes, so I think we should also make it visible, like adding some white spots here, maybe here. Nothing fancy, just a hint. So now the most interesting part, we've got tons of textures who even made with Gouache paint. Now, I've looked at them and so I choose this one for sky. I will just drag it here. Yeah. It looks perfect. So maybe we just scale it a bit. But I think it doesn't even need [inaudible] we can maybe some colors. Maybe not so bright. Yeah, I think that's it. So what else do we have? We have some trees textures, which is so rich and we can add them many, many times. Well, I know it's a rough style, but I'm just making like this and creating that texture I like. So I definitely want to use it here on the trees, maybe add first on the big one. Right here. We can even make a mask. So the layer [inaudible] is overlay, of course. Do you notice? You'll always have some experimentation here. It was very unexpected. So how it will look in this place and in other one. Of course, we can make everything with one piece but some interesting rate. Here, overlay, like this. Maybe I could just double, yeah. So look like here, maybe even like here, and I think I need to make them more also bold. So I will delete a little bit. Remember this brush, it's the [inaudible] Photoshop Brush I'm using. So you can feel the pressure is very good. So you can control everything, and another one. Overlay, super. So now we see that the clouds are really not beautiful. So we go to the Outline folder, we choose Clouds, we choose Color Overlay and make them white. So I will create the next layer. Don't have to be here. It can be here, yeah. I will color the clouds, and we're almost done. So as you can see, I'm just coloring the clouds. And to add this nice shadowing, I am using this color as the underline. So I think you've got the principle. I will finish the coloring, it's also interesting, and in the next video, we'll work on the font. 8. Setting the type and file for print: We're on the last page. What is missing is a beautiful font. We are creating a new layer. It's called Berlin. It's where I expect it. We are writing. See the name, Berlin. With our beautiful calligraphy font you can find in the course materials, which was kindly put there by the author. I think maybe even bigger, and bigger than that. Well, maybe just like this. It's a beautiful color, but it will be even more beautiful if we add some strokes. Like on the top layer, I would add some white stroke, about eight pixels. Maybe, a bit lighter, and copy layer style, paste layer style. Why not? Here, a bit darker and make it 13. It's too dark, right? Well, I can measure it, so it will be perfectly like on the first illustration. Super. Now, I see that the contrast of the colors is not so bright as the font. I want to make it a bit brighter with Curves. Maybe even add some Saturation. The last but very important part for me is the Texture. Maybe I want to make it more into this direction, so the color is more beautiful. To add this bit of English feeling, I would like to add texture as a top layer. That's the old paper texture works perfectly. I'll just bring in this here. Pull it right away, and then choose Color Burn and make it not so dark as you did the blue. Maybe shouldn't be so. Maybe a bit more light. Super. The color looks beautiful. You guys keep this step, but I like to merge it all plain, and maybe delete some. Also with the lines, just a matter of taste, which I don't like. But it's just the final [inaudible] , you shouldn't be interested in that. We have the final file. If you want to print it as a [inaudible] postcard with a beautiful vintage frame, that's what we should do. File, New, like simple way, A6. Then with the help of rulers, I'll set the borders here. Canvas size, remember this is to be clicked. It's very important. We're adding this additional [inaudible]. Once again, I did it all the time. This size: six here, six here. I will then adjust textures back again, but put them towards here. Should be tweaked a little bit. Great. Next, another layer. The postcard should be somewhere here. I want it to be also perfectly correct in the middle, because it's a bit vintage. Now, we flatten the image and just bringing it here. We're making a mask, as you probably guessed. Here it is. Great. We've done it. Thank you, guys for watching, and go to the next video. 9. Creating your own artwork: So now you've seen the whole process of creating a post card. Look at this texturing. It's satisfying knowing we created with our own hands without Photoshop actions or something like this. So your task will be to create your card with your favorite city, your hometown, or even the imaginary one. Make us want to visit this place right away. In the project description, please explain why did you choose this specific place. Remember, there is no rules. You can follow my tips and tricks as precise or as loose as you like, it's all about experimentation. See you in the next video. 10. Final thoughts: We've come to the end of the project. I hope this class has given you some ideas and techniques you can adapt to your own work. Thanks for watching and if you like the class, please leave a feedback at the right corner, it's very important for a class to trend very well. Good luck in the contest. I'm looking forward for your ideas and can't wait to see what you come up with. See you next time.