Illustration by Design: A Guide to Elevating your Drawing Skills | Ira Marcks | Skillshare

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Illustration by Design: A Guide to Elevating your Drawing Skills

teacher avatar Ira Marcks, Graphic Novelist

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

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.

      What is Design Thinking?


    • 3.

      Connecting Illustration and Design


    • 4.

      Art Nouveau: The Style of the People


    • 5.

      The Spirit of the Movement


    • 6.

      A Utopia for Illustrators


    • 7.

      Roles for Illustrators


    • 8.

      Class Project: Planning a Composition


    • 9.

      Class Project: Lines, Shapes, Space


    • 10.

      Class Project: Making a Mood Board


    • 11.

      Class Project: Symbolic Forms


    • 12.

      Class Project: Sketching an Idea


    • 13.

      Class Project: Tone Map


    • 14.

      Class Project: Line Art & Contrast (pt. 1)


    • 15.

      Class Project: Line Art & Contrast (pt. 2)


    • 16.

      Class Project: Color & Negative Space


    • 17.

      Wrap Up


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About This Class

A good illustration is an amazing thing.

It can illuminate an idea, simplify a complexity and give us the feels all at once. But what makes a good illustration work? Design thinking!

In this class, you'll learn to define your creative goals, develop your symbolism and evoke stronger feelings in your drawings using a few simple principles from the world of design.

Here are the topics we'll be covering:

  • Design Thinking
  • The Power of Connecting Illustration and Design
  • The Origins of the Modern Illustrator
  • Gathering Great References
  • Making Strong Compositions
  • Using Symbolism to Create Stronger Visuals

All you'll need for this class is a pencil and paper but I'm working in Clip Studio Paint for visual clarity.

Meet Your Teacher

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Ira Marcks

Graphic Novelist

Top Teacher

Ira Marcks is an award-winning and New York Times recommended cartoonist. His love of strange fiction and scientific research has led to an unlikely list of collaborators including the Hugo Award-winning magazine Weird Tales, European Research Council, and a White House Fellowship Scientist. His online courses have inspired 100,000 students.

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1. Introduction: Illustration is an amazing thing. It can illuminate an idea, convey a complex thought, and give us the feels all at the same time. But what makes illustration work? That's a great question. My name's Ira Marcks. I'm an illustrator and cartoonist, and I ask myself that same thing every time I go to pick up my pencil. Illustration is my form of communication whether I'm trying to get a message across with a single drawing, or tell a story through the panels of a comic. An illustrator is in constant pursuit of two creative goals to communicate with clarity and meaning, and to evoke a strong emotional response. But getting good at drawing is only part of it, illustration is a state of mind. Illustrators need to see the shapes and forms of their world is symbols with meaning. Now you might be like, "Ira, this sounds like a topic for a graphic design class." Yes it is. That's why I call this class Illustration by Design, and that's what this is all about, thinking like a designer to draw like an illustrator. Designers think in a graphic language and I'm going to show you how design thinking can help you boost your illustration skills, and communicate on a higher level. This class isn't just for illustrators or designers, it's for typographers, app developers, web developers, communicators, people in marketing, dog lovers, cat lovers, anybody that wants to connect with the world at a faster pace and on a deeper level. We can all use a little design thinking in our lives. So I hope to see you in class. 2. What is Design Thinking?: What is design thinking? Design thinking can be defined as the search for simple and accessible solutions to complicated ideas or problems. The process can be found in early moments of human civilization and it played an essential role in developing a working civilization here's how. Design thinking was born from the need to communicate. Long before written language and spoken communication, our early ancestors marked forms in stone and clay to define the perimeters of their tribal boundaries. Design thinking later evolved through the power of its symbolic language. The function of these early forms became more complex over time. People began to mark, not only their lands but their inner beings with visual iconography., Design thinking is the root of visual metaphor and symbolism, hieroglyphics, religious symbols, even flag designs are all good design solutions,that unite people in all kinds of different ways. Modern design thinking invites intimate and immediate connections. Using the elements of visual design, artists created an evocative new grammar of emotional and expressive forms that could be used by not just academic artists, but anyone who picked up a pencil or a brush. All of this history, created a place in society for the modern illustrator to exist. So, next, I'm going to share the story of the cultural movement that made me fall in love with illustration. 3. Connecting Illustration and Design: Connecting Illustration and Design. My appreciation and love of illustration comes from a connection with style. It probably started for all of us with a few picture books. Then for me, it moved into animated films, and then museum visits, and starting to notice street art. I have a lot of positive memories with illustration, thanks of course, to my parents who exposed me to all kinds of it. But all the while I was learning to appreciate illustration, I was finding other creative inspiration in unlikely places. When we'd go to a diner, I loved to look at the menus, and study the little pictures and type on them. I loved tourists maps when we'd visit a small city. I even loved the charts and graphs in the history books in middle school, and old newspaper headlines, and Life magazines I'd find at the library. It turned out that I loved design just as much as I loved illustration. At first, illustration and design seemed like two very different worlds. It wasn't until I discovered the Art Nouveau movement that I realized how it could all fit together. Maybe you can see the influence of Art Nouveau in my own work just by looking at it. It's an art movement that speaks to the illustrator, storyteller, and designer in me all at the same time. As I grew up and began to look deeper into Art Nouveau, it became so so clear that the thing I was really connecting with went far beyond all the pretty lines, and shapes, and colors schemes of Art Nouveau. It was the idea and feel behind the whole creative revolution. 4. Art Nouveau: The Style of the People: Art Nouveau, the style of the people. It's the turn of the 20th century in Europe, and the country's relationship with the world is changing. The industrial revolution is this cool new thing. Capitalism is literally everywhere, and the middle class is stepping up and getting more educated. They're making more money, and they're being a little more frivolous and indulgent in their interests. That means reading more and traveling the world and also going to art school. It's the turn of the 20th century in Europe, and the country's relationship to art is changing. Younger artists are not as interested in the dreamy, Frenchy world of Impressionism, and they're even more tired of the idea that the Renaissance is the be all end all of aesthetic. Young artists weren't interested in hyper realistic renderings of historical monuments or painterly techniques that had been used since the dark ages. They wanted to show the world that an artistic vision wasn't the sole property of the wealthy and the powerful, and it wasn't the narrow vision of the rich. They wanted to design their own creative vision, and they looked for inspiration in all places. They found it in the nameless artists and scribes who dedicated their lives to illuminated manuscripts and gospel texts of ancient times. The people and artists who were the unknown and under appreciated in history. They took inspiration from the sciences most specifically the work of Ernst Haeckel, who drew striking, renderings of exotic plants and animals that had never before been seen by the human eye. They were inspired by these fantastic visions of the natural world, and they took inspiration from the power and potential of printing technology. They simplified their design styles and flat into their images to create bold and striking prints and through the guise of commercial art, they could spread their message further. With this mishmash of influences, the young artists of the Art Nouveau movement created their own illustrative language filled with whiplash curves and [inaudible] like erotic lines, weird organic but familiar forms. The Art Nouveau movement was evocative and erotic. It was mysterious and mesmerizing, and its weird shapes were growing all over the continent. It's the turn of the 20th century in Europe and Art Nouveau is everywhere. And that was the whole point. The movement was not to be the domain of a select few artists. It was for all creatives. Anyone who wanted to embrace the aesthetic could apply these simple forms and shapes wherever they wanted. It wasn't just in the graphic arts in illustration. Art Nouveau was on vases and chairs and wallpaper in architecture. The further the styles spread, the more it blurred the line between the world of art and the people who made it. 5. The Spirit of the Movement: The Spirit of the Movement. Vienna, capital of Austria, 1897. Painter, Gustav Klimt; architect, Joseph Maria Olbrich; and designer, Josef Hoffman were a small passionate group of anti-academic and anti-historicist artists. They looked out across their bustling European metropolis of Vienna and found themselves uninspired. The skyline to them reeked of the past, rows of soulless municipal buildings steeped in neoclassicism, that tired and shrewd design style tied to the history of the Roman Empire. These three artists looked out at the gray stonework decorated with governmental pillars and doorways topped with keystones that were called figures from obscure myths, and they saw everything. The Art Nouveau movement stood against the city of Vienna. Their home was stuck in the past paying homage to a culture in time so far removed from their own experience, they could not connect. Klimt, Olbritch, and Hoffman wanted to bring a new form to the skyline, a building inspired by the arts and crafts of the common people, something democratic, something spiritual. So, together, they designed and built a new exhibition space with a design inspired by Greek church-like cross plans. They built an iron and brick structure. They covered the walls in smooth plaster and whitewashed them to a striking glow. They decorated the walls with flat stylized forms of the Art Nouveau movement. On top of the roof, they built four pylons to hold a gilded wreath dome. In the midst of a city of greystone, their building became a beacon for the young artists of Vienna to congregate. It was a space beautiful and unique, but also imperfect and totally irrational. This became the home of the Vienna Secession. Above the door in golden worm-like letters, they put a simple inscription that translates to, "To every age its art. Every art its freedom." Now for me, the Vienna Secession and the artists who pass through its doors represent more than the look of the art movement because truth be told, there is no definitive and all Art Nouveau look. The Secession represented the spirit of the movement, and the artists who participated spoke too. As the architect, Joseph Maria Olbrich says, "A higher metaphysical truth derived from subjective artistic inspiration." In other words, the movement was about creativity that sought to rise to a place beyond the restrictions of the physical world. 6. A Utopia for Illustrators: A Utopia for Illustrators. The Vienna secession, was a place of inspiration for illustrators, many of whom, contributed to the secession's official art magazine, Ver Sacrum. As we look through the pages of the publication, which is now well over 100 years old, we can still tell the publishers at the secession were pushing the forms of graphic design, typography, and illustration to new levels. It was even the first publication to adopt that Super-Hip square format. Like the secession building itself, Ver Sacrum paid tribute to the creative liberation of simple geometric forms, and total abstraction. Ver Sacrum, considered itself to be a figurative groundbreaking publication. The first issue from June 1897, made that message totally clear with illustrator Alford Roller's Blossoming Tree, that burst forth from the restrictions of its container. The magazine continued to push this idea for years. Setting forth the idea that the artists of the time had finally broken free of the past, and were ushering in a new creative utopia. With its bold statement and grand design, Ver Sacrum helped define the roles of the modern illustrator. 7. Roles for Illustrators: Roles for an Illustrator. In the Ver Sacrum, there were three distinct roles for an illustration. One, illustration as storytelling. The magazine love to publish illustrators who use their intimate style to make grand and mythical statements. While I mentioned earlier that the artists of the Art Nouveau Movement rejected historical reference and mythical iconography, the Ver Sacrum and its artists use classical art and its storytelling techniques as inspiration to design new and vibrant worlds. Beauty and agony lived side by side. The mythical metaphor of the light and dark sides of humanity were at play in these drawings and often illustrators were using the tropes of the hero's journey and Arthurian legend in their layouts and compositions. Many of the illustrators working in Art Nouveau had classical storytelling built into their DNA and you can see it in the pages of the magazine. Two, illustration as decorative art. Decorative illustrators also found a home in Vera Sacrum. As text and image were given equal respect on the page, the Art Nouveau style was a perfect fit for the magazine. Its metaphysical vibes perfectly complemented the poetry the magazine published. Decorative elements broke through the conventions of the publishing grid and flowed in and around the text. Sometimes it even infected the words with its strange eroticism. Decorative illustration falls in and out of fashion from time to time. But, this magazine shows its power and potential. Three, illustration as message. One of my favorite quotes on culture and communication comes from one of those famous figures of media discourse, Marshall McLuhan. He declared that the medium is the message. Meaning, the form of communication has a symbiotic relationship with the message it's intended to convey. So, ask yourself, is the Ver Sacrum iconic for its content or iconic for its form? The magazine itself is an undeniable work of art and some of the artists that it highlights are undeniably famous artists. But, now from a historic point of view, the publication itself is an icon of the creative culture that grew from the Art Nouveau movement. I think a lot of the illustrators of the time knew the magazine was in itself more important than any one artist represented in its pages. How do I know? Well, you can see it in the way illustrators constantly allowed for their designs to flow into the mold of the magazine's innovative layouts. The published work of many of these illustrators could not really stand alone. It's eternally bound to the page on which it was printed. A lot of these illustrations are the beauty marks and the blemishes of the magazine's personality. Even now, 120 or so years later, the Art Nouveau Movement, the Vienna Secession, and the Ver Sacrum are all major influences on how we view the relationship between design and illustration. 8. Class Project: Planning a Composition: Before we start our class project, I'm going to show you how I apply design thinking to my own illustration work. This is a cover for a Brewery Guide, it was a special issue of a regional culture paper called The ALT in upstate New York where I live. The idea with it was to celebrate craft beer culture throughout upstate New York in a special issue with articles and features about breweries in the area. The image I was creating needed to serve a couple functions. First, it needed to be a cover of a print magazine/newspaper. It's on newsprint, but it's a magazine format. I think the format is about 9 by 12 inches. It needed to be a magazine cover, it needed to be an image for their social media and website. They also had a special request, which was that the characters and elements of the image could be broken out to be spot illustrations placed throughout the magazine. Here's the bear, and then you can see the rest of the little characters. So, they needed to stand out on their own. I didn't want them to just be cropped out of a single illustration, I wanted them to be broken out so they look like they were designed to be single small images. Let's review design thinking, and look at the goals of the design process. I'll break that into three main points again, like I did in the earlier chapter. One, to resolve an idea. In this project, the idea was to represent brewery culture in Upstate, New York. So, not just a single brewery, but the whole culture surrounding it, all the different stages of the process, the people that drink it, the places that sell it, and even some of the laws that surround it. The second design goal would be to create a functional or let's say iconic and/or symbolic illustration. If there was a logo associated with this, we'd probably see it present here because that would be an iconic or symbolic illustrative element. But in this case, I had to just capture the vibe of Upstate New York-ness, which I did through the choices of animals and the type of tree we see present and just basic symbols of brewery culture, meaning the machinery used in the process and the mechanics of drinking it, tongues, taps. The third stage, and probably for me, the most interesting, and the way I can really bring my style to the project is to evoke a response through the design. That means after considering these first two goals, how can I bring some human and emotive energy to the design? So, let's talk about the practical aspects of the assignment. The cover of the magazine was like I said about 9 by 12, so when I was framing out my sketch, I drew that rectangle. I decided I wanted the image to occupy most of the space, and almost look a little bit like a map. So, I started griding out where each point of interest would fall on the page. So, it's almost like functioning as a comic or some type of sequential art where the grid follows a narrative. So, I numbered the boxes and that takes you through the process of the brewery, into the tap-room, and down to the people drinking the beer, and the results of drinking beer. Then, the middle left there, where I put the star, that's the politics and the laws that surround this whole process. So, it doesn't have a single point in time, it's just looking at the whole thing overall, that's why I chose an L. Now, I start to break down the grid into more organic forms. I knew I wanted a tree because to me trees are, maple trees, in particular, are a symbol of Upstate, New York. So, I found where I was going to place all my main elements. I knew I wanted a couple stages of the brewery process, the kegs, which I'm representing with barrels, a tap, and the drinkers and I'm giving them their own little regions to occupy on the page. So, now I can confidently draw visual elements in the spaces I provided for myself. So, right now I'm outlining the basic forms that I like to use. You can see the characters all have squishy bean like forms. The machinery have flat bases to give it a mechanical field, but they're rounded and friendly on top, and even the text occupies organic space. So, as you remember from the beginning, I needed to break out these visual elements. So, at this point, they're all sitting in their own space. I'm using the tree to guide the eye through the drawing and to unite all the visual elements. So, for me, the tree represents that third goal of the design process, that evoking and emotive response. That's where the natural energy in the flow of the drawing really comes from. If I zoom in here on the illustration, you can see that Art Nouveau vibe moving through the bark of the tree. So, it's got horizontal groovy lines, and I also use dotted lines in the midst to represent roads that weave through the Adirondack in Catskill Mountains. So, it's almost like a contour map and an energy at the same time. So that's subtle, again, third stage of the design process. Because to resolve an idea, that can be done through just a basic sketch. We can resolve an idea with a layout, or a map, or a short summary of a project. So, you can have a team or an individual focus on that single goal. The iconic and symbolic element, that's a design process that can be used with a logo or illustrate element. But the real artistry, again, comes in when you're trying to evoke a response, and you can put as much or as little energy into that stage. You're still accomplishing a lot of your goals in the first two stages of the process, but the third step is really where your personality as an illustrator can come out. 9. Class Project: Lines, Shapes, Space: Chapter 10, lines, shapes and space. For our class project, we are going to design our own cover of the Ver Sacrum magazine. Here's the example we saw earlier in one of the chapters. I don't think this is a great example of the overall aesthetic that was to emerge through their sacrum. So, I've put a little collection together of covers they really capture the aesthetic tone of the magazine and of course general relationship with the Art Nouveau movement. Let's review some of the recognizable elements of the Ver Sacrum. The big one that pops out right away because it flows through the whole era of Art Nouveau is the emotive curvy line, that kind of serpentin whiplash form that depending on how the artist is using it, can mean a number of different things. In this case it's got a flow like a whirlpool or a wind current, something with some strong energy to it. It could also just be a beautiful decorative element or it could even be violent if you change the direction from more of a flat horizontal tranquilness to a vertical push like this kind of geyser flame like flow. So, there's a lot of movement that comes through the emotive curves, it is a dance to it. You've probably also noticed that a lot of the illustrate of work of this era in this magazine is very flat. It eludes that third dimension even when the content of the cover might suggest that there is a third dimension like even these figures and their dancing poses don't have that illusion of depth, they're flat. You can't walk around these characters. There's no sense of a space where they are. They're more iconic and graphical which is great for the printing technology of the era but it's also great in creating memorable images. There's less complexity to the design, so you don't have to look as deep into the story. It speaks simply and clearly with lots of contrast and two-dimensional approaches to design also lends itself to decorative elements in more symbolic forms like you can see this arm hanging and cutting the little line to drop the blade. That's something that would be less metaphorical if you added a third dimension. You'd have to explain what that arm is connected to and where we're standing in relationship to these characters. Two-dimensions makes things more symbolic. With that great restriction of working in only two-dimensions you have a lot of artists playing with positive and negative space. There is a mystery and ambiguity that comes with inverting the eyes' expectations and forcing the viewer to kind of flip their brain to find the meaning in the message within the image. As we start to build our design, we're going to keep these three elements in mind. 10. Class Project: Making a Mood Board: Chapter 11, making a mood board. This is a Pinterest board for a project I was working on. It became a YouTube banner for a musician who started forging series about finding food in the forest, making a meal, singing songs about it. The mood board I created guided the project. So a mood board is a tool for an illustrator, designer, or any type of creative to use to frame what the project's going to look and feel like before you might even create a sketch or any other visual note. So, a mood board is a collection of images that speak to themes you'd like to address in your work, composition, or static elements that you might want to steal and or borrow for your own creative process. I'll show you a quick collection of images that I gathered from earlier chapters of this project to inspire my Ver Sacrum cover design. I grabbed this image first just because I liked the look and feel of it, no other reason than that. I like its simplicity. Once I picked that first image I got a little more focused and I decided a principal I'd like to deal with this symmetry in my design something that's got a base and a foundation and a bit of balance and comfortability to it. I liked the flow of this image, I liked the big negative spaces and the really compressed detailed elements, and I also liked the vague sense of nature in this design. I love the color palette of this and the really heavy blacks and the abstract forms in the foreground that are tulip flowerish but also alien and weird, so I like the dark elements of this image. I grabbed this is a typography reference. This class really isn't about type so I'm not going to talk too much about that. I'm going to think of the type as just another visual element and I'm going to use Ver Sacrum as the text on the cover and that's about it. This is not an artist who worked for the Ver Sacrum in fact he had probably passed away by the time the magazine picked up but he was an early art nouveau influence. His name's Aubrey Beardsley. He worked with Oscar Wilde quite a bit and Gustav Klemp was clearly influenced by this guy. I like this piece specifically because that opening in the gown where all the organic material is coming out of, l like that as a symbol of the reveal of a creative idea or the things that are kept within us and the complexities and growth that we hide beneath us. So, maybe that's a visual metaphor I want to work with in my cover design. I loved the sense of pattern with this design and the negative shapes of the little ovals in the middle. If you're familiar with the comic artist, Jack Kirby, this actually looks a lot like the types of shapes he uses in his cosmic imagery in his Marvel comics. I actually grabbed the photo I used earlier of the Vienna Secession building itself. I liked the simple structure, I like the way the most visually detailed element is so far out of reach you have to squint to look at, you can never really get a full view of that wreath and the walls that are right in your face are more blank. So, that idea of the hidden detail and complexity of the world functioning more of the borders of the design, almost an inverse of traditional composition. All right, that's my mood board. I'm going to start building my design based on these inspirations. 11. Class Project: Symbolic Forms: By the time the Ver Sacrum came around the language of Art Nouveau had evolved to the point where a group emerged from that initial movement that called themselves the Symbolists. Gustav Klimt would consider himself one of these. They were the artists that used the aesthetic of Art Nouveau to explore the relationship of illustration to emotional response. So, I'm going to sketch out eight different thumbnails, their basic forms that all evoke an emotional response and from these I'm going to start to design my magazine cover. Like color theory, the theory of forms and emotional responses is kind of an elastic definition. They're just familiar places to explore and develop an idea from. So, for using horizontal forms you're relaying an emotional sense of calmness, of quiet and tranquility. Vertical forms are structural and if we point to the eye towards those forms using triangular agitated shapes we can create a sense of focus or the idea of devotion of an idol or even a radiating energy to give something a sense of specialness. Vertical forms like towers, things that kind of represent the urban structures, have a sense of stability. They evoke awe and they feel powerful. Triangles are structural and they feel secure in their forms. They have a sense of permanence and a weight to them. Security systems and banks often use triangles in their logo design. If we use the page as a horizon and we make a half circle with radiating lines around it, we're evoking a sunrise or a sunset. The emergence of something new, we can offer a sense of hope or even enlightenment. Spiralling lines feel exciting. They have a sense of movement that evokes a power like a whirlpool or water flowing down a drain. They can also feel like they're simulating an illusion. An oval placed in the center of the page can evoke a sense of balance and trust. And then if we break up that space a little bit we can use it to evoke two sides of an idea the day and the night. If we let some circles float around space we can create the idea of immensity. We can also speak to the negative space around the forms and create a sense of vastness. I've written a little statement that I want to translate through my illustration. I guess a bit of a philosophy I have about the role of art in society and it's something I want to challenge myself to say with my illustration. So, there's a couple main points in this sentence and I can use a combination of these thumbnail sketches to communicate this idea. So, for the idea of art, I'm going to evoke a sense of hope, a sense of newness. I'm going to use the idea of a vast space to represent the surrounding influences and throughout this I don't want it to feel agitated or angsty. I want to evoke a sense of calm tranquillity. So, I'm going to bring some of that horizontal quiet vibe to the composition. Now that I have some symbolic forms in mind I can start building my final sketch. 12. Class Project: Sketching an Idea: All right. It's finally time to sketch out our idea. I've set up my page here in a square template because that's the format of the various Sicher Magazine. On the left, I've got my thematic phrase and my three symbolic form references. I know I want to make room for text on the page and I'm going to place it at the bottom. So, that's what this little guideline is for. I'm going to pull in my first reference image, and taking an inspiration from that organic flower form, the red shape at the base of this drawing. I'm going to start to sketch out your visual metaphor for art, a strange alien budding flower. It's got a symmetry to it, but I'm going to offset that symmetry with some small buds and then at the base of the design, I'm going to put the vines but they're going to feel more like a little viper nest. The thing about Art Nouveau that's always appealed to me is the more dangerous side of nature that it brings in. So, I can make these vines feel dangerous. I'm going to shift the design up a bit, and then I'm going to change my reference image to this curvy smoke like shape. So, this represents the influence that surrounds the artwork as it emerges. These are just basic layout guidelines. I'm just representing a feel. I don't want them too vertical. I don't want upward movement. I want more of a swirling tranquility. But I also don't want to overcrowd the space. I'm going to take out little bits, leave bigger spaces. The shapes of Art Nouveau can be a great exercise in shifting your mind from positive to negative space, because the forms are so abstract when you're creating your guidelines, who's to say which is the positive forming. Which is the negative form? I'm going to jump away from a visual metaphor, and block out my text. I know it needs to say Ver Sacrum. I'm going to space out little rectangles that represent the real estate of each letter. I'm going to create a couple of guides that are a reference so, I know which letter is where, because I'm very right side of the brain, focused right now and it's very easy for me to spell words wrong. You can see the benefit of blocking out text like this, because you can squish it into a space without compromising any details, because it's solid or very rough stage. I can go through and readjust the width of the letters now. There is my blocked out text. Now that I have my key elements, my art form in the center, the surrounding wavy influences, and my text block, I'm going to reassess the placement on the page. I made them all on different layers. So, I'm going to just shift them around. I'm going to create a border around the outer edge of the page. I might put a pattern in there. Not sure yet how decorative I want to get. I'm reassessing the scale and location of the central shape. I'm thinking it needs to shrink down a bit, it makes the space around it seem bigger. I'm going to move it a little closer but not exactly to the center of my page. So, here's my rough layout. I've got a basic sense of the energy and symbolism of the design, placement of key forms, and I'm going to go over top with red and define some of these forms, make them a little less geometric, a little more organic and a little more specific to what they represent. So, I start with the flower, I'm overlap in a couple little objects, and drawing out the serpent-like curves of the vine. Maybe I'll put some thorns on them. I'll drop them in for now. Here's another influence of mine. The symmetrical ladies. I really like the way that arm extends up and it's almost like the stem of a plant. I'm going to borrow that and maybe create some little stem forms that flow up and down. I can't help but use this bottom vine to connect into the S. So, it's probably more clever than it needs to be, but I'm going to keep it for now. Now, the textures of the surrounding influence, I'm not settled down there yet. I'm going to try some dashed lines and readjust these forms. See if I can get them flowing in an interesting way. I think I need to go a little simpler. I want them to feel wavy. I'm considering connecting them to the text in some way. Let's block out some of this negative space in the background. So, I'm sure I've got a bit of a room for a frame, whether I choose to leave it empty or put a pattern into it, it's still a frame and I'm going to tighten up some of these curvy lines in the background. One of the things I'm always working to get better at as an illustrator is leaving plenty of room for movement between my sketch stage and my final line work. I don't want to define all the details of my design in the sketch stage because then the final artwork feels very rigid. So, this might seem to a novice illustrator, a little too loose for you to confidently ink on top off, but for me it's just enough. I'll show you how I utilize that freedom in the final line work. 13. Class Project: Tone Map: I find that when I go to ink my composition, I get hyper focused on whatever region of the design I'm working on and I lose sight of the bigger goals of the project because I'm just having so much fun creating clean line work or indulging little pockets of detail. So, what I like to do is create a tone map which is a small thumbnail sketch of the relationship of the lights and the darks in the final project. It doesn't include color. It's just black, white, and shades of gray, the values of the final image. So, here's an example of a tone map. You can see the blacks represent the frame. The flower in the center and the negative space around the text and around the flower, I have some shades of gray. I like the relationship of the grays and the blacks in this but it's not as strong as it could be. So, I'm going to do one more sketch here and I'm going to try the popular art nouveau technique of inverting the lights and darks. I want to draw the eye more to the petals of that flower. So, my tone map is a way to get people to look at the parts of the design. I want them to and to remind myself where I want to direct the attention. I like this a lot better. The text will pop. It's inverted, so again, the negative space is blacked out, creates some negative space in the flow of the design around the flower but the flower itself will be left light. That way your eye is drawn to those two main petals and it creates a nice tension with that little shape right in the dead center of the drawing. So, that's a tone map. I recommend trying it. It will only take you a minute or two to figure it out. It's something that's helpful to keep on hand as you build your final line work. 14. Class Project: Line Art & Contrast (pt. 1): I try not to take advantage of the software's capabilities when I'm doing these lessons because I want artists who may be working with traditional mediums like just a pencil and paper to be able to participate and draw along and not be left out of the process. But in this case, I'm doing a lot of redrawing of lines and I think it's important to see the lines that I keep and the lines that I redo. It's not because I'm trying to get them perfect, I'm trying to speak to the overall feel of the design, the visual metaphor I'm working towards and then I rework spaces sometimes because it needs to relate to the shapes around it. Every line I draw reveals something new about the composition. So, I have to constantly be thinking and reassessing how this space all fits together as if I'm finding the pieces of a puzzle. It happens right off the bat here in the middle of this flower. This is a great example of the space your mind gets to when you're working in this style. I'm seeing these lines form a very specific shape within the middle of this flower. I want it to feel like a teardrop that's flowing down the flower as much as I want it to feel like an opening within it. It has to feel graceful. When I get down to these vines, they need to feel serpent like, they can't feel too geometric and round, I want them to be a little compressed like they have a weight to them, almost like they're sitting on a surface. I'm also seeing an opportunity here to create kind of a subtle reference to the infinity symbol which is the shape I was using earlier in the lessons to represent the relationship of illustration and design and how they fit together it's kind of a give and take. Within these vines, I'm going to take that Aubrey Beardsley influence, the idea that within any given form is a more complex set of emotions and feelings and that's represented with the biology or organic nature like we see in the cape of the woman in this reference image. So, I'm creating a tangle of vines that are kind of hidden within the form of this flower. Again, I'm constantly trying to balance the positive and negative space. I'm imagining what I'm going to fill in with black and what I'm going to keep white. So, I got to get the curves just right. They have to be spaced evenly. Depending on the type of artist you are you may connect or not connect to this approach. I could take this whole sketch and trace it in Adobe Illustrator with a vector pen tool, I could zoom in and just try to match the lines up just right, but for me, the emotion comes out when I play and explore in these places with the movement of my hand, creating big arcs or sometimes even more complicated lines with just a single flow and movement of the wrist. It's like a little dance, right? If I'm using a vector tool, I'm just looking for accuracy and I can create nice beautiful curves but I can explore what those curves mean in a moment and I lose a bit of that human connection. There's no right or wrong way, I'm not resentful of illustrators that use those tools and I do it myself sometimes, but you have to admit there's a little bit of a lost opportunity when you're working with really accurate technical software. Once I complete my vine, I'm going to move dominant to the text and I'm thinking of this as I'm creating a unique font, not even a font, just letter forms that are related to this flower in the vine to the things that I already have on the page. So, it's actually going to take me a while to find the personality of these letters. I'm, of course, inclined towards soft cartoonish shapes so that's what I'm starting out with here and these early letters really will define the language of the whole design. So, I'm just going to work them until they feel right. The letters they're pushed against each other because I want to create opportunities for negative space but they also still need to be legible but just barely. All right. That feels too cartoonish to me. I'm going to erase all of that and I'm going to start over. I'll take a new point of view here, I'm going to block out the whole letter spaced and then I'm going to start to cut the forms out. Well, not actually cut the forms out, let's think of it this way, I'm implying the letter forms by creating darkness. So, I'm working in the negative space exclusively. I have a reference but if you really think about it I haven't drawn any letters I'm just implying letters with my design. I'm looking for likability, interesting forms and shapes. The secondary goal here is to represent the letters and the two distinct words. You can see me get caught up here around this vine again, I should probably make it serpent like and give it a bit of a unique character that way it stands apart from the vair because I did not leave a space between these two words. I don't know about you, but I really get caught up in a different state of mind when I'm working like this, when I'm painting a round shapes and forms and you can see it come out as I decorate this type space. I'm turning some of the letters into shapes and I'm turning some of the negative space into forms. So, the idea here is that your brain is kind of jumping back and forth from the literal and the representational, the letter and its abstract meaning and the actual shape that I've created that's that metaphysical relationship I mentioned in an earlier chapter. Art Nouveau is playing with your mind when you look at it and that's kind of the point. It doesn't want to represent aspects of our society or the real world. It wants to look at what it means to be a person and that's the whole idea behind metaphysical study, right? It goes back to Aristotle and there's a good quote by philosopher Emmanuel Kant from the early 1700, you know, about a 100 years before the Art Nouveau style really came into its own. Emmanuel Kant said, "The study of metaphysics is a bottomless abyss, a dark ocean without a shore." We joke of what it means to get meta about something, that basically means to strip away all logic and just flow with the feels and the emotions of a topic. A lot of people with a more scientific mind would say that's a weak point of view of the world because it's so introspective right? It's all about you, or it's so conceptual, or it can only really exist in your mind, but our closest relationships with ideas and things have a metaphysical feel because it speaks to what it means to be something, what it means to relate to the world around you. How something came to be in the first place? Things don't just spring out of nothing. Things aren't born out of a scientific definition, there are results of environmental effects. That's what things like these lines, this influence, the surrounding influence around my flower, that's what those represent. The things that make something come into being. It's hard to assess what those things are, but you have to be aware that they exist, right? But, of course, the curves also need to feel right. It's got to look good at the end of the day. 15. Class Project: Line Art & Contrast (pt. 2): -All of this work that we've been looking at, you know kind of arounds itself out in around 1905- 1906. In about five years later the movement of metaphysical art came into being. And that's basically the idea that artists were painting that which was not seen. The strangeness of the unseen world, of other realities and things like that. That's when it gets kind of science fiction based but this sort of work I think is a little more related to Edgar Allan Poe and stories like The Raven. Where there's a menacing energy or a feeling but there's no actual antagonistic element. All right. So, you know that's sad I'm working I am not just tracing my line work. I'm constantly thinking of how the lines I'm drawing now relate to what I've drawn before. It might be hard to see but right now I'm going around all those empty spaces around the smoky threads that I've created and turning those spaces around them into shapes of their own. It almost feels like a wood cut at this point. Which was a style that certainly inspired this era of Graphic Arts. Now I'm going to go through the main space around the flower and create a more specific visual of the influence of the surrounding world. So the smokiness is influence but it's also like a framing element. I don't want to connect anything directly to the flower. I mean,I let these elements float in space around it. It's so easy to fill negative space up and overcrowd the design, but I think I can get away with it if I keep my shapes really simple. I want a sense of vastness. Right. Like in a feel look to the left there, my little reference image of planets moving through the depths of space. So, I'm going to use little dots. So, they seem further away from the flower, push the flower to the foreground. Let's pull out the sketch now. I get to really see this negative space. Okay. This is looking, this is looking pretty good. I'm going to move to the inner part of the flower and show kind of the internal side of the flower, what's coming next from it and add a bit of mystery. I love the overlap of the vines and these little dots inside kind of hinted that those things behind the main iconography. Not sure what to do with these petals, I don't want to give them too much shape. I guess I like this. Now I'm going to go through and blackout around the vines which is the fun part. I had already envisioned this, it's just a matter of going through now and doing it. I've drawn lots of tentacled creatures in my day so, I'm pretty good at weaving lines and forms in and out of each other. I'm going to try to decorate the petals of this flower and I'm not sure if I like it yet. They should have a bit more character to them. This is too much. But I have keep in mind that I'm going to bring one color to this design and I need to leave some room for that. So too much black in this flower design isn't going to work. Okay, these pedals are bothering me. I'm going to take out the little horizontal lines that I put in them. And if I can get one little curve in this petal, in this foreground petal here that would be great. Do I fill it in or not? Leave it unfilled. Okay. Now I'm getting into the my new share here. So, that's always a good place to stop for I overdo a tiny space. It's like, how closely do you measure a shoreline. One last trip to the outer rim here maybe I feel this space. No. I should leave it empty. Okay. The balancing of positive and negative space of creating contrasts and tension. It is a constant struggle. This is why we keep making art. 16. Class Project: Color & Negative Space: Here we are in the final stretch of the class project. All that's left to do is negotiate color and negative space. Let's pull up a couple of examples and look at how other artists of the Ver Sacrum have dealt with color. Remember we're dealing with early print technology and probably small budgets for these magazines. So, color is a commodity. Most of the images and pages used only one or two colors plus a black. So, artists would get really clever about how they use negative space. In this first example on the left, we see the black is contrast between the night. The line work of the black creates textures, and then the blue is the overall mood color of the design. So, if this image on the left had been red, it would have a totally different feel without changing any other elements of the design. So, we can use color to set the mood for the image. In the middle example here, we have orange setting a more vibrant, energetic tone. We have the black as the central point of emphasis. The shadow in the background could have also been black, but it would have taken away from that other visual element. So, purple works as a nice compliment to orange. It has a nice energy to it because it's high contrast, but it does not take away from the fully saturated black form in the middle. So we can use color to frame a point of emphasis as well. So I have to decide, are my shadows all black? How am I dealing with other secondary elements? The third one is pretty clever because it keeps the foreground element black, iconic shape, and it uses the orange in the back to set the tone for the mood and almost frame the face a bit, but with a clever kind of sunset silhouette pulled out of it. So, we can create negative spaces within the color. We can use our blacks as points of emphasis to guide the eye, and we can also use color to set the mood and tone in our composition. I'm going to work in black, white, and I'm going to choose shade of red similar to the very first issue of the Ver Sacrum. That's my little inside reference for this design, and it's also going to help me keep things pretty simple. I'm going to fill in all the background in red to start. I'm going to fill the whole image in with red, and I'm going to pull out white where it seems necessary. The red gives it a nice warmness, but it also flattens the image in a lot of ways. It reduces the contrast because the value of red is a few steps closer to black than it is to white. Black and white, high contrast. It's a lot of tension there because it's a big jump for the eye to look from, white to black. But the red sits in the middle. So, I'm going to pull out some red. Let's start with the flower in the center. Those two main petals that I keep talking about, and how much I like that they're the point of emphasis. I'll pull out the color from there, the petals, and the three main loops plus the bigger part of the stem. That way I'm retaining a bit of that infinity symbol. I'm also keeping the more complicated curves and bindings of the vines pushed to the inside of the design, more like organ stem. Pull out a little bit of white on those surrounding orbs to connect them to the flower. Maybe they're buds that just haven't sprouted yet floating around space. Now, I want to build a little bit of pattern. Pattern is such a strong element of the Art Nouveau movement. I didn't really address that at all, but I can use the stars to create a very simple pattern. Something relaxing and tranquil. Just to get a little more white and highlight and the swirls, I'll go through and pull out some of the red from various parts of the smoke. I consider taking the red out of the text, but the magazine never went out of its way to display its name. Not like, for example, a Life Magazine, where the title is always prominent and in the foreground. The Ver Sacrum was a little more subtle and obscure. So, I don't mind hiding the text in the design and letting the flower be the main point of emphasis. That's the type of thing you get to do with an art magazine as opposed to a commercial product. All right. There is my completed Ver Sacrum cover. It's about 120 years past the deadline. We went to some strange thought-provoking places along the way. I hope you enjoyed those little detours. Of course, that's the fun and excitement of the creative process, going places your mind has never gone before. Star Trek style. Okay. Let's wrap it up. 17. Wrap Up: Well, I hope you enjoyed illustration by design, and I hope the class inspired you to create an illustration of your own and share it in the class project section. I love to see work by students. It's part of what makes this a community, and it's part of what inspires me to create a new class for you guys. Make sure you follow my class channel for updates on new classes. I'm on Instagram, if you like that sort of thing. I put out a newsletter every once in a while with contests, cool links, images of my art, and events that I'll be at. If you like this class, check out my other classes on concept art, cartooning, children's book illustration, drawing medieval sea serpents, all kinds of fun things for you guys to occupy your creative brains with. All right. I'll see you next time.