Posters with LeDoux: Draw a 3-Color Poster for Your Favorite Band | Jesse LeDoux | Skillshare

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Posters with LeDoux: Draw a 3-Color Poster for Your Favorite Band

teacher avatar Jesse LeDoux, Illustrator, Artist, Designer

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

Watch this class and thousands more

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

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Project Overview


    • 3.

      Tools and Materials


    • 4.

      Choosing a Band


    • 5.

      Finding Your Style


    • 6.



    • 7.



    • 8.



    • 9.



    • 10.

      Creating Separations for Screenprinting


    • 11.



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About This Class

Love music and art? Join artist Jesse LeDoux — former Art Director of Sub Pop Records — as he draws a poster for one of his favorite musicians, Sun Ra. This 55-minute class is a feast for both eyes and ears: you'll explore Jesse's Grammy-nominated style, get to know his favorite tools and materials, and watch him sketch and ink in real time. Plus, Jesse offers a detailed walk-through of preparing your work for screenprinting and a list of favorite printers across the U.S.

You should take this class if you're interested in ink, making the most of limited color palettes, screen printing, and having fun. Designers, artists, and illustrators of all skill levels welcome. By the end, share your own 3-color poster with the class for feedback, inspiration, and encouragement from fellow illustrators!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Jesse LeDoux

Illustrator, Artist, Designer


Born in Portland, Oregon, Jesse LeDoux worked for many years as an art director for Seattle-based Sub Pop Records where he created iconic album and poster artwork for such artists as the Shins ('Best album packaging' Grammy nominee for Chutes Too Narrow), Iron and Wine and Death Cab for Cutie before leaving in 2004 to focus on his client-based and personal work at LeDouxville.

Parallel to working on commercial illustration and collaborative projects for such clients as Starbucks, Nike, Disney, Giro, Rapha, Penguin UK and Target, he has exhibited internationally. His work was included in the Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial (2007), an installation at the University of Maryland (2008), and has work in the permanent collection of the Experience Music Project (Seattle, WA), R... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hi, my name is Jesse LeDoux. I'm an illustrator, graphic designer, art director, general thing maker, living in Seattle, Washington. I've made things like this, this, this, this, and this. My favorite work is when the creator's hand is clearly visible in the work. Because of this, a lot of my work is hand drawn. There's just a warmth and soul in putting pen to paper that it's nearly impossible to replicate when creating work directly inside the computer. I feel like the Undo command has a way of eliminating happy accidents, and those happy accidents are where a lot of recreating lies. This brings us to this class. It's accurately yet not so eloquently titled, drawing three-color poster for your favorite band. In this class, you'll learn how to, one, use a variety of drawing instruments, two, learn how to make the most of limited colors, three, how to properly prepare your files for screening. You should take this class if you have an interest in putting ink on paper, if you have an interest in screen printing and also, if you'd like to have fun, you should probably take this class. As an added bonus, if you'd like to see me stutter, and stammer and trip over my words. I'm pretty sure there'll be plenty of that as well. In fact, I guarantee it. 2. Project Overview: Let's jump into it. We're making a three color poster. It'll work like this. One, you'll pick a band that you like. We're all friends here. Feel free to pick your guilty pleasure. Two, sketches. We'll sketch out how we want our poster to look. Three, creating final art. We'll use actual real paper and actual real ink to draw the elements of our poster. Four, we'll bring those hand - drawn elements into the computer and build our poster in Illustrator. Five, once the poster is built, we'll nail down the colors and figure out the print order for our separations. Six, lastly, we'll create color separations that you'll be able to send to a screen printer to print your poster. Once you're finished, you can share your poster on the project gallery. 3. Tools and Materials: Okay, we've just run through how the class will work, so it's time to get started. The first thing we want to do is talk about the tools we use to create our poster. I have some favorites that are kind of my go tos, and then there are some other things that I use less often, but they can still be pretty fun and have some cool effects or lead to some cool effects. Okay, tools. This is pretty much my toolbox. The items to the left are the items that I use most often and the items to the right are ones that still can come in pretty useful, but I don't use nearly as much. So on the left here is my favorite pen and my favorite ink. The ink that I prefer is Speedball. Speedball India Ink, it's just black and it's opaque and it's a great consistency and I like it a lot, and then my favorite pen nib is a Hunt 100. I like the springiness to it and its ability to go thick and thin. It's a pretty well-rounded pen, you can do a lot of things with it. Next up is a standard pencil and eraser. You know how these things work, wax on, wax off. Not much mystery there. Sometimes I use a point nine, sometimes I use a point five. It really depends on whether you want a thicker line or a thinner line, but ultimately it doesn't really matter. Next up, a mechanical pencil that I like to use, is one with blue lead in it, and blue lead is great for super light sketches because the scanner doesn't pick up the blue nearly as well as it does on a normal graphite pencil. So what's great is you can do your loose sketches and get super sketchy, and then you can tighten it up with your normal pencil. From there you can go to inking and it creates a really nice progression. From there, those are the core tools that I like, and from there, some various brush pens are nice just to give different effects. Sometimes they give a cleaner line than my nib pen does, and sometimes that's favorable. Most times I like the messy line, but just various brush pens kind of give different effects and different thicknesses. This one goes from super thin to super thick, which can be nice. This one, it's cartridge based, so you put an ink cartridge in. It's not disposable and I just messed up by unscrewing the ink cartridge, but this gives more of a brushy sort of texture which can be great sometimes. Another brush pen, sometimes it's nice when they're almost out of ink because it can give you a good texture. Micron pens, you guys have seen those. Different sort of nib pens, although I prefer the thinner style, sometimes thicker ones can be better. You can get all kinds of different nibs. This is like a steel brush sort of nib to it, which is pretty crazy. I don't really know exactly what it's used for, but that's the beauty of it. You can just play with it and figure it out, and then some just normal brushes are good to have on hand too. The one thing that's not pictured here that is pretty great to have, is a jar of water so that you can immediately rinse out your drawing utensils like your dipped pens and things like this, and also some paper towels are always good to have on hand. 4. Choosing a Band: Now that we've gone over all the tools that I like to use, let's get started on our poster. The first thing we need to do is pick a band. I didn't know which band to pick. I like happy accidents, and I like surprises, and not knowing where things are going sometimes. So what I did was, I made a list of some of the bands that I liked and put them into a helmet, and I'm going to pick one. The band that I'm going to do a poster for is Sun Ra. I like Sun Ra; Sun Ra is Good. Stuff can be weird. Some of the earlier stuff is less weird if you're looking to get into him. But my poster is going to be on Sun Ra. Pick your poster or pick your band. It can be your favorite band, it can be a band that you don't know much about, and we can go from there. What I have found, one tip I've found in working, I've worked with a lot of bands, and sometimes the hardest bands to create work for are your favorite bands, whereas a band that you're not as familiar with or not as just connected with, can sometimes be easier, so keep that in mind, but pick your band and we'll go from there. 5. Finding Your Style: Before we get started on drawn, let's talk a little bit about style. I feel that style is an extension of how we view the world. You don't need to try to find or forced style, by following what interests and inspires you, the style will grow out of that and be uniquely you. For me, I grew up on a steady diet of watching cartoons and exploring the forest outside my house. Both of these made a lasting impression on me and are clearly visible in my work. Another thing you may notice about my work, is that it's incredibly simple. I try to keep only the necessary elements in, and remove anything that isn't entirely essential. I find the world a chaotic, busy place, and creating simple work is a way of balancing that, escaping the stresses of life and finding a peaceful place. In an attempt to keep things simple, I love working with a limited color palette. Making the most of only three colors for a poster is really fun, and the flat field of color you get from screen printing only helps to reinforce that simplicity. I also love working with a limited set of shapes, just about everything in the world can be reduced on rectangles, triangles and circles, which I find exciting. Because my work is simple, it allows me to focus on the details. This is why most of my work is hand-drawn, a hand-drawn edge most likely won't be visible on a JPEG, but I'm not concerned about JPEG, I care about how something looks in real life. What I'm not as interested in is realism, we already live in a real-world. I'm far more interested in creating a world that doesn't already exist. This is where the characters I create come from. I love the escape as quality of creating a new and unique world, unlike the one we all experience. In a way, the characters are extensions of the emotions and feelings I experience, and as a way of articulating these emotions. When it comes to inspiration, my biggest suggestion is to not look at similar things for inspiration. For instance, if you're designing a poster, don't look at other posters, look at sculpture or architecture or something else instead. If you're designing a beer can, then look at posters or hand painted signs or something. I find that you can come to much more unique solutions, if you take your head out from where it currently is and bury it into something new. Similar to that, if you find yourself hitting a wall on your current project, change your thinking. Work on something else, go for a walk, do the dishes, or move all the elements you're working with off your workspace, and then bring them back one-by-one and see if they form something new that does work for you. Lastly, one thing I find super inspiring in starting with a clean workspace, it's a blank slate, unlike rebooting your computer, you'll just work better. 6. Sketching: Sun Ra. Sun Ra's a good one, I'm pretty excited I picked that. Jazz musician, he claimed he was from Saturn, which is pretty cool. Let's use that as the foundation of this poster. My poster is going to be 18 by 24. That's a pretty standard size, 18 by 24 inches. I'm drawing a box that is roughly that ratio. Let's get into it. I'm going to draw my poster, improve style like Sun Ra operated, why not? Circle with an eyeball. Circles are good for an interplanetary man like Sun Ra. It should see Sun Ra on there somewhere. How about right in the middle? I'm starting out with this light blue pencil because it makes for really light lines. The downside is you can't erase it very well, but your lines will be so light that it doesn't matter so much in life. If you don't have blue lead, don't feel like going out and getting some, you're perfectly fine, it's just a standard pencil. So Sun Ra had a zillion people playing in his band over the years. Pull out hands on them, make sense to me. Why stop with five fingers? Keep going. What else? I don't like to get too literal with posters. But I think that the nodes too, abstracted ways of approaching what they're about is interesting to me, so why not? Music bars, sound waves, constellations, space noise, just have fun. Don't try to overthink anything. Just go with what your gut tells you because oftentimes your gut is pretty right. Once you've sketched everything out in your blue pencil, then you can go back in and then just redraw it in your darker graphite pencil just to make dark lines so that you can see them when you go to ink better. There we go, there is our sketch for our poster. From here, we will go into inking our drawing and starting on the final artwork portion of the poster. 7. Inking: We have our Sun Ra sketch done. Now, it's time to ink. The couple of things that I use for inking is, I use a better paper than just your standard bond paper. I founded that I like this stuff, it works pretty good. I just keep it bound, and then I just do all of my drawings in this, and it's like a final art sketchbook of sorts, so there is just a bunch of old projects all in this one book. I like using this paper and then I also have a light table. This light table I got when I was living in Japan and it's great because it's super thin and portable. I can have a portable office anywhere I go if I want. I throw my drawing under my piece of finished paper, and then I open up my ink. Make sure you have your paper towel handy because you're going to need it. Then you grab your pen and start drawing. Now what I'm doing is, I'm just drawing each shape and I will compile all of this in the computer. In instances where this hand covers, I'm going to just want to draw this shape and then I'm going to want to draw the hand over it, and then I can compile that and the computer. Another thing that's helpful is to start, I'm right handed, so start from left to right because it takes a little bit of time for the ink to dry. Then I'll start drawing. If you draw straight ahead, your nib will dig into the paper so you always have to pull the pen away. That takes a little bit of getting used to, but once you have it, it'll makes sense. From here we have all of our elements drawn, were done inking, and now we go and scan this into the computer. 8. Digitizing: Now that we have our drawing scanned in, we'll open these up in Photoshop, and when I scan them in, I scan them at grayscale at 1,200 dpi. That's just big enough that you can do what you need to with them, and they typically scale is okay, unless you're going to do a humungous poster like 24 by 36 or something, then you might want to go larger than that but I've found that 1,200 dpi, that size works pretty well. My two images are open now, my paper size was a little large, so I had to scan it in two parts. From here, I go and I turn it grayscale, and then I go and turn it into a bitmap tiff. A bitmap tiff basically makes it either if you zoom way in, things are either black or white. This sets yourself up really well for screen printing because if you have any anti-aliasing, then you'll end up running into problems. You're going to want to go to a bitmap tiff on this, and then you can either do a Save As or you can just save it. Sometimes it's nice to do a Save As just in case if you need to go back to your original scans. Do the same with the other. From here, I open up Illustrator CS5, for the reason that Adobe somehow found a way to break live trace in CS6 and Illustrator CC, so I like to use CS5 when life tracing. I'll open up a new document, I'll place my bitmap tiff file, and then I have gone in and I've made live trace option that hugs the line better, it just follows my line closer and doesn't mess it up. This is my preset for it if you want to make one for yourself, re-sample is 600 pixels, path fitting 0.6, minimum area 10 pixels and corner angle 12 and I've found that it follows the inconsistency of my line just a little bit better. If you want to change that, here's where you change it, and then once you've done that, you can go and trace it. With changing those settings, it does take a little longer to do a live trace, and sometimes if the drawing is as really complicated, sometimes it's too much for it, but I don't know. I like working with vectors just because you can move things around a whole lot easier than a bitmap tiff, but I also don't want to sacrifice image quality, which is frequently what happens with when you live trace things. Once you have live traced it, then you can expand it. What I like to do from here is ungroup it and then only select the parts that are of value because there's just a lot of noise. Once you've selected all of that, copy it, and then I open up a new file. This is going to be my poster documents. I'm going to want the page size to be 18 by 24, and then I click "Okay", and then paste all of the elements that you want into it. They're all upside-down, so I'll flip it right side up, and then this is your document. I think that poster's look good when they have about one inch border around them, so I'll set a box up just for my active page space. All right, so that's my image space. You can put that on its own layer and lock it so that you don't accidentally select it. Then from here, you just use all of the pieces that you've created and build your poster. There we go. We have our poster designed, and now it's time to figure out the colors, which we will do in the next video. 9. Coloring: We've had some fun. We've sketched, we've drawn, we smudged some lines. We even used a computer, but now it's time to get serious. We need to talk about color. Our class assignment is to create a three color poster. However, how you choose to use those three colors can yield some very different effects. The first one here is just using three colors, and the end result is three colors. You have blue, you have brown, and you have black. Typically this is printed with the lightest color first and the darkest colored last. However, you can use your colors to mix and create new colors. In this poster the pink color prints first then the yellow color prints second, and then the black prints third. The yellow over prints the pink to create this orange color. Taking that even further, you can overprint all of the colors to create new colors. In this one, the yellow printed first. No, it didn't. The yellow printed third, the blue printed first, and the pink printed second. The result is it looks like six colors because you have the blue and the pink creating the purple, you have the blue and the yellow creating the green and the pink and the yellow mixing to create the orange color and the way this works is to get the the most color change. You're going to want to print your darkest colors first, and your lightest colors last. Because the lighter colors are less opaque and the under color will show through more. You can also print two hues of a similar color to create a middle hue. You have this green color and the blue color to create a greenish blue color or you use a very thin, almost white color and then that creates a whole another set of colors. This is a three color. It's blue and pink and there's cream color and your yield is blue and purple and pink and then all of these different tones which come together. Another way to do it is if you're using black, you can print your black first with the colors on top of it and then you get darker tones of your colors. In this one, the black prints first, the blue prints second, and the yellow prints third and you end up getting a pretty wide spectrum of colors. This tone right here is the blue overprinting the black, whereas this is just the straight blue over the white of the paper. This is straight yellow. This is the yellow over the blue, and this is the yellow over the blue over the black. Then the last thing you can do is, when you're printing with black, you can get a mat finish by printing color underneath the black. If you can see there are clouds and smoke and stars up in the sky of this. That's just me printing either the green or the blue underneath that black. The way that happens is because the xin changes depending on whether the black ink is on paper or whether the black ink is on another coat of ink. This is another example of color underneath the black. On this one I have these alternating rays that are blue rays and silver rays alternating underneath the black to give it a sunbeam effect. Now let's get to work on coloring our poster using some of those overprinting tricks. This is Sun Ra he's from Saturn. It makes sense to me that his head is a planet. Body is land so his head it's hovering over land and this is space. If this is space, let's turn that black. Let's turned his head blue like a planet. Let's go with a earthy blue like that. If this is earth, we can make that green. Now one thing we may want to do is have the, we're already using blue so we could either use green and blue and then have a mixture between the two or we can turn these hands yellow and our three colors are yellow, blue and black. That seems to make the most sense to me. White, maybe we'll go with taking all of the stars, turning them gloss. Last one, I group those and then I turn those as a gloss. Just take that, pick it turn it a dark colored. With blue on that. Then all these lines can either be blue or yellow, or little or both maybe. Now that we've figured out what our yellow color is actually, let's bump that down a bit and a little depth to it there. Yeah, I like that yellow. It's a little great to it. The blue will print first, the yellow will print second. The strongest green will be if the yellow over prints the blue because yellow ink is pretty translucent, whereas the blue is much more opaque so you'd get more of a bluish green if you were to overprint the blue over the yellow. We want to pretty strong green so we'll go blue first and then yellow. With that let's look at our values, 75, 0, 13, 0, and this is 0, 0, 93, nine. This green will be 75, 0, 100. That's about a pretty good approximation for how the green will look. Let's turn this shape and then these could stay white. They could turn blue or they could be black. Come to think of it. Let's not have the black print last, let's have the black print first and then we can print the blue and the yellow on top of it, which gives us other colors to play with here. Those lines could end up being a darker green, which can be a fade like that. These lines will be black printing first and then blue and then yellow printing on top of them, they'll all be there or all other colors will print on that area. Punch that back a little bit so leave that as blue. If black is not printing last then these can't be translucent or they can't have the xin change, so maybe it will change those back to white or yellow, white. Great, so here we go. I feel this is pretty good. From here, we're going to want to make our separations. 10. Creating Separations for Screenprinting: Now that we've figured out our colors it's time to do the separations. Separations are far and away the most technical part of the process and it's easy to trip yourself up so stay organized. What I like to do first is to save a new file so that I can keep my master file in case I need to go back. So I'll name that SunRa_poster_seps and then I'll want to delete everything that isn't part of the poster. From here, I make new layers for each of my three colors, plus an extra one for the crop marks, yellow prints last so that will be the top layer. Now we have our layers, with screen printing everything will be printing on top of each other, we will need to knock this dome shape out of the black, otherwise the black will print under it and it will get as dark as that and we don't want that. So we'll copy this, paste it behind, we'll paste the dome shape behind the black and then we'll use our Pathfinder to remove the two and we'll continue to do this process throughout with everything until we've knocked all other colors out that we need. Knock the circle out from the black, and then knock the white out from the circle. As we're doing this, we can start to move the pieces into their respective layers. We have all our separations done, they're all each in their separate folders: yellow, blue, black. One thing I decided to do as a last minute thing is right here, the yellow will overprint the black even though I have it set to multiply right now. Just to mark it up but the yellow will overprint the black a little bit and you'll get a color change right there, which I think it'll end up looking pretty cool. So once you have your colors separated, you're going to want to trap them, trapping is when two colors touch, you want to spread the ink out a little bit so that when they're off registration slightly, you won't get any thin little white hair line gaps that would end up looking like that. In order to do that, the easy way to do it is to just go in and give the necessary things, a slight stroke. The things that we'll want to trap the most is this head to make sure that there aren't little white lines between the head and between the blue and the black so we'll go into that and we'll just give it a stroke. Typically, about a two point stroke should do it, continue to trap the rest of the elements in the same way that we did the head. Now that our files are properly separated and trapped, pull one to add the crop marks, by doing this we'll do this on the marks layer right here, we'll go object, create trim marks. We can now delete that path because we have our trim marks. Make sure that your trim marks have a stroke of one point, if it's any thinner than a point then there is a chance that it won't print when screen printing because if it's too thin it will just fall through the mesh of the screen. So one point is good, you have that there and then from there, the sheet size, the paper size that the printer will be printing on is 20 by 26, or final poster is 18 by 24 so at this point once I've designed for an 18 by 24 inch page I'll go in and I'll go to document setup, and change my page size to 20 by 26. So this is the page size, this is what the printer will have to print on. From there, I go in and specify my colors and this is only for the printer to see. So black prints first, put that in the black layer, and the one out of three is the order in which it prints so one out of three, it prints first, three out of three it prints third. Of course you'll want to select PMS colors but just for the ease of this class I'm just going to go black, blue, and yellow. Throw those into each of their respective layers and then I save my file. Now once you've made your separations and have your file all set up, we'll want to create printer-ready pages, separation pages so in order to do that I make another file, a third file and I call this one SunRa_poster_toprint. Now with this one, I'll duplicate into three art boards so we'll have a yellow, a blue, and a black. Now I'll always want to keep my marks layer locked so that these marks don't accidentally wiggle as I'm doing these separations. On the yellow layer, I lock the marks and yellow and then I delete everything else, on the blue layer I lock everything but the blue, and on the black layer I lock everything but the black. So these are our separations then from here, we'll want to have as rich of black as possible so for all of the colors. I just select a yellow and then go to Fill Color and I turn this into a super rich black: 100, 100, 100, 100, I'll add that to my palette then I'll do the same with the other colors. So these are our separations, from here you just save it and then save as a PDF and then these are our separations that we can send to the printer. 11. Conclusion: We did it. Thanks a lot for being a part of this. I hope you had a good time, I did. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to throw them my way. I know that we breezed through the separations part pretty quickly and that's a pretty massive subject. Any questions throw them my way. Otherwise, submit your poster to the project gallery. I'm really excited to see what you guys come up with and the more people will submit stuff, the more dialogue we can have and the more we could talk about the various things that we use to draw with. Maybe you use a sponge or maybe you use a stick from the backyard and try to draw with that. I'm excited to hear what you'd come up with. Thanks again and looking forward to seeing your work.