The Style Class: Work Out Your Illustration Style in a Daily Project | Tom Froese | Skillshare

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The Style Class: Work Out Your Illustration Style in a Daily Project

teacher avatar Tom Froese, Illustrator and Designer

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.

      About This Class


    • 3.

      About Style


    • 4.

      Style Pain Points


    • 5.

      5 Observations About Style


    • 6.

      The Power of the Daily Project


    • 7.

      The 2 Kinds of Illustrators


    • 8.

      Solving Problems with Style


    • 9.

      Follow Your Inspiration


    • 10.

      Lettering: The Secret Element


    • 11.

      Setting Goals and Aiming for Joy


    • 12.

      Exercise 01: Inspiration Case Study


    • 13.

      Exercise 02: Creative Self-Inventory


    • 14.

      Project | Day 1: Kickoff and Setup


    • 15.

      Project | Day 1: Make a Project Plan


    • 16.

      Project | Days 2-4: Pilot Set (Preliminary Studies)


    • 17.

      Project | Days 2-4: Pilot Set (Sketching Toward Ideas)


    • 18.

      Project | Days 2-4: Pilot Set (Finished Artwork)


    • 19.

      Project | Days 5-26: Filling Out the Set


    • 20.

      Concluding Remarks!


    • 21.

      Go Deeper with a 1-on-1 Session


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About This Class

How do you find your illustration style? If you're an illustrator, you've probably asked this question before. Perhaps you’ve wondered if you should narrow down to a single style, or if it’s okay to work in a many. Perhaps you constantly struggle with feeling confident in the styles you have now; or, maybe you’re looking for a more original style that looks less like your influences. If any of these sound familiar, this class is for you!

Tom Froese is an award winning illustrator and top teacher here on Skillshare, where he's helped tens of creative people like you unlock the world of commercial illustration. Over the years, Tom has has had is fair share of doubts and struggles where it comes to developing a consistent, reliable, and authentic illustration style. In this class, Tom shares key insights from this journey and offers some practical and actionable steps that will be sure to help you in yours.

In this class you'll discover:

  • How illustration style works and how it might work for you personally
  • How to find your style while overcoming anxiety and doubt
  • How to use style as a problem solving tool
  • How to springboard from your inspiration without worrying about imitating it
  • A fully guided, daily illustration project with a focus on developing your style
  • A deep dive into how Tom thinks about style during the illustration process

This class is all about understanding the deeper issues around style, how it relates to you and your identity, and how to use style to solve visual problems, reliably and expressively, in your commercial illustration. It’s not about the individual components of style, or how to use specific tools and techniques. It's about empowering you to boldly explore your own potential as an illustrator. 

By the end of this class you will have a series of illustrations, based on a theme, that you work toward over the course of a few weeks. The class project will help you focus on applying one kind of illustration technique to a variety of illustration problems. Along the way, you will become more familiar with what you love and what you are good at — and what you might not love or be great at — and these will become the biggest clues to what drives you creatively, the ingredients of your own unique illustration style.

No matter where you are in your journey, this class aims to be a game changer for how you think about you and your illustration style. Ultimately, style is not something that can be given to you or taught. It's the result  of a process of discovery about who you are, what you love, and what you are excited to master. Tom invites you to begin or continue that journey with him in The Style Class!


Meet Your Teacher

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Tom Froese

Illustrator and Designer

Top Teacher

Tom Froese is an award winning illustrator, teacher, and speaker. He loves making images that make people happy. In his work, you will experience a flurry of joyful colours, spontaneous textures, and quirky shapes. Freelancing since 2013, Tom has worked for brands and businesses all over the world. Esteemed clients include Yahoo!, Airbnb, GQ France, and Abrams Publishing. His creative and diverse body of work includes maps, murals, picture books, packaging, editorial, and advertising. Tom graduated from the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design with a B.Des (honours) in 2009.

As a teacher, Tom loves to inspire fellow creatives to become better at what they do. He is dedicated to the Skillshare community, where he has taught tens of thousands of students his unique approache... See full profile

Level: Intermediate

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1. Trailer: Just roll right into it? Yeah. Okay. How do you find your illustration style? If you've ever asked this question, this class is for you. Perhaps you've wondered if you should narrow down to a single style or if it's okay to work in many. Perhaps you constantly struggle with feeling confident in the styles you have now or maybe you're looking for more original style that looks less like your influences. If any of this sound familiar, welcome to the style class, I made this class for you. My name is Tom Froese. I'm an award-winning illustrator and taught teacher here on Skillshare, where I've helped tens of thousands of creative people like you, unlock the world of commercial illustration. Over the years, I've struggled with my own style, constantly wondering how to make it more cohesive and consistent, while constantly doubting myself along the way. When I obsess too much about style, I forget about the joy of creating that inspired me to become an illustrator in the first place. While style is a hard topic to talk about, I do think it's important, and I think there are some really practical steps we can take toward feeling better about our style. This class is designed to help you navigate the complex and confusing world of illustration style. We'll start by building up an understanding of what style means and how it can work for you in the primer. Next, we'll deep into some quick exercises to discover what inspires us most and how to springboard from that inspiration in our own work. After that, the real work begins. A deep dive into a multi-day illustration project, where we get to work out our style questions in a series of 26 illustrations. This is going to get us out of our comfort zones, but I think it's the only way to truly start working out our authentic illustration style. This class is all about understanding the deeper issues around style, how it relates to you and your identity, and how to use style to solve visual problems reliably and expressively in your commercial illustration. It's not about the individual components of style or how to use specific tools and techniques. Really, style can look like anything, your art can look like anything, and I don't want to get in the way of that. My job is to give you the tools to find your own illustration style, so you can make better work and enjoy it more along the way. How do you find your illustration style? Let's work it out together in the style class. 2. About This Class: This class is broken down into three parts; the primer, the exercises, and of course, the final project. The primer is where we'll take a deep dive into the questions of finding your illustration style. Through a series of mini-lectures, I'll lay down some of my key insights and principles to help guide you in the exercises, and project, and of course, in your own journey. The exercises are where we start to put all that theory into action. Here, we'll look at what inspires us most, and then use this as a springboard for discovering clues about what we want to explore and experiment within the project, and beyond. The project is where he had a chance to put everything we learned in the primer and exercises to the test. A 26-day illustration project where we'll create a series of illustrations on a theme of your choice, working out how we solve visual problems in a technique of your choice. Why 26 days? Because we'll be illustrating an alphabetical list of things and ideas under our chosen theme from A to Z. It's my most ambitious class project yet, but don't worry, I'll guide you into it, and set you up with everything you need to get going. Of course, I'll be sharing how I think about style as I work through my own illustrations in the demos. In terms of experience, this class is for anyone who's ever wondered about how to find their illustration style, whether you have zero experience, or have been illustrating for decades. This class covers all ranges of experience, and abilities, and gives everyone a chance to dive deep into their own style questions. That being said, the more experienced questioning and working out your own style you come into this class with, the more you'll get out of it. Hopefully, you'll be able to keep returning to the principles in this class as you develop in your own creative path. In terms of skills and equipment, of course, some experience in art media, and digital tools will come in handy. That could be anything from painting in watercolor to dabbling a bit and procreate. In the class exercises, you will get a chance to figure out what actual illustration techniques you'd like to use or explore. I'll be using Procreate for sketches, and the exercises, and Photoshop for my final illustration project. Because I know what some of you will ask, I use Astropad to use my iPad Pro as a graphics tablet for my Mac. I run Photoshop on my Mac, and then Astropad lets me connect my iPad, and use it as a screen-based tablet. The exercises will not take long. I think you could do these in an hour or two, but really you could take as long as you need. As for the project, I'm recommending around 26 days total. I'll explain how this breaks down more in the project kickoff. This is the longest I've ever suggested for a class project in my classes, but I truly believe that a multi-day creative project is the most powerful way to discover clues about your illustration style. You are of course, encouraged to share each illustration as you go along. Making something regularly is just one part of finding your style, sharing it with an audience, and with the class is also super important. By taking this class, you'll gain a deeper understanding of why illustration is, how it works, and how it relates to your particular way of creativity, and thinking. You'll learn how style can start as a seed, and grow over time. About how it can be used to solve problems rather than simply express your own identity, you'll also gain a deeper connection to what inspires you, and learn how to channel all that energy into your own work. Finally, the project will give you a crazy amount of practice, and experience working out your own style of questions. If you stick to your project all the way through from A to Z, there is no way you can't come out the other side a stronger illustrator. Let's get on with the show. 3. About Style: Style is one of the most discussed topics for illustrators, especially when starting out. We see established artists and admire them for their style or the way their illustrations look, and make us feel. While the pursuit of one's style is frequently dismissed as a distraction, there is no way around the fact that folks will still obsess about it. If people are thinking this much about it, certainly it deserves our attention. To me the question is not whether to worry about it or not, but to ask why worry or maybe, how should we worry? We may find that at the end it's better to focus on other things but first, we must look deeper at what illustration style is exactly, and how it works. Why is it such a big deal, and why perhaps should it not be? What is style? Simply put, style is the way an illustration looks, apart from whatever the content of the images; what colors are used, what techniques were used to make it, what is the expressive quality in the image? Comparing two illustrations of the same thing, what makes one more compelling than the other? Style is tricky because it's the thing we're most aware of in illustration, but the least able to describe. But I think we understand at the very intuitive level, the importance of style. It's what attracts us to the work in the first place. That's the source of our obsession. Whatever the concept or idea, it's conveyed materially, visibly. Before it reaches our intellect, it passes through our senses, straight to our hearts. As artists, style can drive us, or we can derive our style. As commercial illustrators, our job is to understand style as a tool so we can drive it. Use it to our advantage, both in our work and in how we use it as an extension of our identity. There are two main ways in which style is important. Why we should pay attention to style in our work. The first thing is in establishing our identity, our brand as creative entrepreneurs. As our work is our product, it must always link back to us. In the same way that brands apply a consistent quality in their products, our illustrations should always have some consistent quality that's uniquely our own. This consistent quality of work becomes synonymous with us. Consistency does not make us one-dimensional artists. It's simply a recognition of a narrow set of qualities that we're good at, which we can do repeatedly, which others can grow to depend on us for. This leads to the second way in which style is important; it becomes a reliable tool for us as visual problem solvers. Regardless of what our style looks like, regardless of how many styles we house under the roof of our creative business, having established styles resulting from specific techniques and processes, makes us more efficient and reliable. Although we could feasibly illustrate in any number of styles, we choose not to. Because we have one narrow set of qualities under our brand in our toolkit, we can get right to work on the problem instead of floundering about trying to figure out what style to work in. We also spend less time getting on the same page as our clients about what style to work in. In fact, the more clients sees consistency in your work, the more they'll trust you to do it again, and therefore they'll trust you more with the creative part of the job. We've now defined what illustration style is, and what makes it important. In the remaining lessons in this primer, and then through the exercises and project, we're going to look at how style works for illustrators, especially as we start out and how it develops along with us as we go. We'll look at the key problems in style that illustrators face, and ways to overcome these challenges. I've even developed some ways to help place ourselves on the illustration style spectrum in terms of temperament and personality. Most importantly, we're going to look at what I believe are the most effective ways to start discovering your style as an illustrator; tapping into what inspires us, and working out our style questions by doing actual work. Ultimately, your style is not something you can decide on now, once and for all. But you can and must certainly make choices along the way. I think one of the hardest things about finding a style, is simply not knowing what our choices are in order to make good ones. We feel like, if we were just to choose a style today, we'd be denying ourselves so much potential to grow by trying other styles, other things. Finding an illustration style is not about finding a static style, stopping growth on purpose so our style can remain consistent, it's about always creating, always working, always seeking the joy in that, and then taking some time along the way to find out which ways work the best for us, and then how to do that more on purpose. 4. Style Pain Points: When I look at all the questions that students ask about finding their style, almost all of them break down to one or more of these pain points; consistency, confidence, and originality. Let's look at each of these pain points a little more closely. Having a style means having a consistent look to our work. It's no surprise then, that most illustrators struggle with this pain point. Why is it so hard to achieve consistency in our illustration? What works for one kind of illustration may not work for another. Another scenario, might be someone who can't imagine just sticking to one style. They simply enjoy working differently each time and wonder whether they need to commit to a single style at all in order to be a legitimate, well-respected illustrator. One of the most asked questions around style is, do I need to have a singular disciplined style in order to be as successful illustrator? Another one is, what if I want to work in multiple styles? As far as I can tell, you can be successful with one or many styles. It really depends on your temperament and over time, what seems to work best in your professional practice. If you're happy and successful working across a variety of styles, then that's all that matters. If it matters to you more to have something more individual and singular, then this is something you can deliberately work toward. In the end, you'll likely find yourself somewhere between having multiple styles and something more singular. The most important thing is that you have an overall consistency in what you offer as your product. You'll find you have some common consistent pivot points from which you approach all your work. We'll talk more about this in a bit. The second pain point is confidence. We artists are hard on ourselves. Half our time is spent dealing with debilitating emotions and negative thoughts about our value as artists. We tend to link ourselves worth with our perceived value as semi-public personalities or as artists. What if we could forget about what others think and focus on the joy and satisfaction we experience when we create? We tend to lose our confidence when we unfairly compare our work with others. Meanwhile, we forgot about why we started illustrating in the first place. Confidence doesn't have to come from feeling comparatively great as illustrators, it can come from knowing we're doing our job well to the best of our abilities and somehow adding value to our clients and audiences through our art. How can we make work that we're proud of, which gives us joy to make from start to finish? We need to remember not to take our pursuit of style too seriously. It needs to happen, but on our terms. Meanwhile, we have to survive as artists. That means giving ourselves the room to explore and grow, to make mistakes as we fumble toward a more confident, natural, expressive style. This comes with time and practice. I'm sorry to say that, along the way, our confidence and self-doubt will come in waves. But ultimately as you stick to it, you'll grow more comfortable in your own skin. My experience is that we start out with a false vision of who we are supposed to be, but over time we gain a clear picture of who we truly are. This is why style doesn't just happen to us quickly, especially if the style you are seeking is one that's authentically yours, not just based on what's trendy or cool. The key is to remember, the joy of illustration. Remember why you were inspired in the first place, and simply to follow that spark of passion. If nothing in your art is giving you joy, not even one small part of it, then you might want to consider trying something else. Again, it may help to remember that we tend to be harder on ourselves than others are on us. Well, we're putting ourselves under our work down, others are probably quite impressed by our work. Us for style the truth is that, we care way more about what our style is than others did. The third pain point is originality. Of course, so much about having a distinct style is about identity. We want people to recognize us through our work. Because we pour so much of ourselves into our art, we care about how it represents us. Like style itself, I think we all understand the importance of originality as artists. It sets us apart, it's something that we can claim as only our own. Having our own voice as artists is really baked into the whole deal. How can we approach becoming original in our own work? Being original is being able to think and make things independently and creatively. It doesn't mean we're so totally different from everything and everyone else, it's more about how we use our given situation and abilities in our own way. Ideas do not need to be esoteric to be original or exciting. Row, American designer Paul Rand. I would only add to this that if you want to be original, the only thing you can do really is to speak from your perspective and not try to speak from another's. The hard thing about speaking from your perspective is that it often takes a lot of digging to find it. It's much easier to borrow on others, the work has already been done. If we don't have a lot of practice digging for our own perspective, we'll tend to doubt ourselves and give up too soon. What happens instead is, not feeling confident about our own unique voice, we look at other perspectives, other artists, other styles, and in some way imitate these in our own work. Perhaps it's because we don't believe in our own original way of making art. It seems somehow not enough, somehow unfamiliar. We know what others have done, how well it was received by others. We see trends and assume that we have to follow them in order to be current and well received. I don't think it's wrong to pay attention to trends, but it is too easy to fall into a total buy-in, where you lean too heavily on the familiar and miss out on bringing something truly unique to you to the table. What I'm saying is that it takes guts to be original. It's easier to stand behind a trend or to borrow the style of another, because it's instantly gratifying. But it distracts us from the true us below. The challenge is that teasing out our own true voice starts shakily, maybe even embarrassingly. It's vulnerable. Is it bad to be imitative? If our own style hasn't grown to maturity yet, and we have work to do in the meantime, how are we supposed to get anything done? The truth is that we all start imitatively. In almost all my classes, I talk about the three Is; inspiration, imitation, and innovation. We start by being inspired by other's work in imitating it. But over time, as we work to bring more of our own voice into our work, our work becomes more our own. We move away from imitating others and more toward referencing ourselves. We become blend of all of our inspiration, and through practice we become good at channeling this in a unique way. Developing an original style is a balance. It's a balance between, on the one hand, accepting a certain level of imitation, allowing our influences to play into our work on purpose, and on the other hand, challenging ourselves to be more bold, accepting what our work ends up looking like in spite of ourselves. On the road to finding our own style, we all experience the feeling that our work somehow doesn't measure up, that it's too all over the place and inconsistent, that it's somehow not original enough, or when it is, we don't feel good about it. These are all valid concerns and we should definitely aim toward a style that hits it out of the park in all these ways. But along the way, we're going to need to have grace with ourselves. Most important is that we aimed to work from the place of joy and passion that got us into illustration in the first place. Whenever we feel badly about our work, we can remember our first spark and do whatever we can to get back to that place. 5. 5 Observations About Style: Certainly, there's no single path to find one's illustration style. We all come into illustration and journey through it in very different ways. That being said, when you observe the career paths of some of today's most successful illustrators, you'll see some interesting patterns emerge, things that seem to be true for almost all of them. I have five observations in particular, which I think should serve both as an encouragement and as inspiration. Encouragement in that even our heroes have humble starting points, and inspiration in that the early steps they took which brought them to initial success are the ones you and I could easily take today. The first observation is, all artists start with a hand-informed style that becomes more well-defined overtime. Take any illustrator with a defined, unique style today, and trace back their work to the beginnings, and you'll very likely find that they did not start that way. In fact, you'll very likely see something that looks more shaky, less confident, somehow more hand- informed. In fact, what you're looking at will probably more closely resemble their natural drawing style, at the time, than the work they're doing today. This is especially true of artists whose style is now heavily influenced by mechanical or digital processes. They had to start with their hands because that's what they knew at the time. It was over time in work that they worked out a more transcendent style, which expresses their ideas without belying the more handmade origins of their sketches. I talk more about this at length in my class, Drawing Toward Illustration. You might have a desire to have a more transcendent style like this. But if you're closer to your beginning, you probably only have an inkling of it. You will spend more time now, experimenting and exploring different techniques, and your work will come from your current set of abilities, especially techniques that are closer to your most accessible tool, your hands, lean into them. What does it look like to lean into your current abilities? It means, more than anything, getting in touch with how you draw everything, objects, people, ideas. It means draw every day, be that person who carries around a sketchbook everywhere, and then experiment with techniques that transform these drawings into something more. This is much like the illustration process where we start with sketches, and then add layers of color, line, texture, shape, and so on, in the media of our choice. Why illustrate by drawing when you could go right to the computer? Because by allowing yourself to create freely in this way, later on, you'll be able to find patterns within your work that are unique to you, clues to your own style. You'll notice you draw shapes in a certain way, or that you repeat a certain motif over and over again. If you try too hard to have a more disciplined transcendent style too soon, you may end up leaning too heavily on your influences and their techniques, while at the same time ignoring the important clues of your own natural voice. The second observation is, the unique identity of the illustrator becomes stronger in work over time. All illustrators start with a seed, a foggy notion of what they might be down the road, and all illustrators start by being inspired by their heroes, likely copying them to a higher degree than they'll end up later on. When we're young children, our identity comes more from our family, from our parents, than from ourselves. We illustrators begin as children strongly resembling our influences, our mentors and our heroes. But as we come of age, we grow to know ourselves more, and we can't go straight from child to well-formed, fully independent adult. We all have to go through the awkwardness of those tweens and teens. Stick with it and you'll get through it all, and you will mature. Some of us age with grace, others less so, and for each of us, that simply adds to our story and the uniqueness of our voice. The third observation is, the illustrator moves from a more general approach to something more specific. While most illustrators end up specializing in one small corner of the illustration universe, we typically start out as generalists. At the beginning of our journeys, we start out with infinite possibility. But as we move forward, we learn who we are, what we can do, what we cannot do, what we're drawn to, and what we avoid, and all of these things help each of us to narrow into a more specific definition as an artist. When we start out, not having yet forged our own identity, we're more open to the various influence of others, and we're willing to accept more varied work. We don't yet know what our specialty is, nor should we. This is one reason why, I believe, designers, who later become illustrators, are at an advantage. Designers are generalists by training, and they have a lot of experience working with different kinds of visual problems, and as such, they get to learn about what they're good at and like, even as they begin as illustrators. As we grow as illustrators, we find we enjoy certain kinds of illustration, both stylistically and in subject, which leads us to ever sharper focus in our work and style. When thinking about this progression from general to specific, I always envision a sideways cone, or two converging lines. Everything to the left of this opening is, well, everything. When we make that first move into our journey, that's the very beginning of this sideways cone thing. Suddenly our choices are limited, and as we move forward, experimenting, getting feedback, finding what works and what doesn't, our focus becomes sharper and sharper. We're leaving the possibility of everything, and heading more towards the single point, which I like to call the singularity. In the most ideal sense, this is where we find our one cohesive style, or our artistic voice. In reality, this point is a moving target, ever before us. That's because the more we learn, the more we realize how much more there is to learn. Even as we grow more specific, we never grow stagnant. The fourth observation is, illustrators begin sharing before they're ready. I love this one because it's the most actionable observation in this set. Many illustrators begin their careers before they're accepted by the public as illustrators, before they have an established style, before somebody will ever give them a break. These motivated individuals make their own opportunities by starting and maintaining a daily creative project. This gives them the opportunity to work out their style tangibly, while building an audience at the same time. Commercial illustration is all about communicating to an audience. Illustrators need all the practice they can get, both in working out their style and in learning to engage with an audience. Having a practice of creating something to share on a regular basis gets illustrators used to thinking about an audience, and also, working within a schedule. For me, back when I was starting out, the primary venue for a daily audience-driven creative practice was blogs. But the ones that I particularly recall, which ultimately influenced me the most, were focused around a particular theme and working out a particular technique or medium. A couple of examples from my early days include Kate Bingaman-Burt's Obsessive Consumption, and Lauren Nassef's Drawing a Day. I was fascinated by their work and inspired to do something similar. I mirrored this habit myself and ultimately built an early drawing style, that I became known for, and from which my earliest illustration jobs came. The fifth observation is, illustrators let their hair down once in awhile. For those who struggle a lot with pain point number one, commitment, please take note. No matter how strict an illustrator is in their main commercial style, they likely take detours and work outside their comfort zone every now and then. Just because they present a highly cohesive body of work on Instagram or on their portfolio site, that doesn't mean they don't let their hair down ever. Artists all have their own way of sharing their side projects. If something is really half-baked, for me, I'll post it on my stories, or perhaps tweet about it. Often I'm happy to share my most on-brand experiments as Instagram posts, while keeping my website portfolio more consistent and static. Of course, not everything that gets made needs to be shared. Think of everything that happens in your sketch book or journal that nobody ever sees, and consider that most artists are doing this all the time. 6. The Power of the Daily Project: In the previous video, I observed how illustrators begin sharing before they're ready and described the daily creative project. In my opinion, there's no better way to kickoff your quest to find your illustration style than regularly making work and sharing it with an audience. For this class, I really believe there's no other way to walk you through the journey of discovering your style, than to lead you through a multi-day illustration project. That's what we'll be doing after all the lectures and exercises. As I was trying to work out a way to teach style, I looked back on my own journey and realized my earliest efforts toward illustration really started when I began making and sharing drawings on my blog almost daily. I was very directly inspired by a handful of illustrators doing this at the time, but most visibly Lauren Nassef, who's confident by introspective contour drawing style I really related to. Embarrassingly, I even named my blog similarly to hers. Hers was a drawing a day, mine was draw something everyday. At least, I was honest about my intentions and inspiration. I really wanted to draw something everyday, just like my inspiration. What started as an imitative effort over time grew to be my own thing, eventually making way for other creative experiments. Along the way, I was really honing my own way of drawing, discovering what I enjoy drawing, challenging myself to draw things I didn't want to like cable knit mittens or jackets draped on hooks, and experimenting with adding color in collage elements digitally. This daily project started in my mid-undergrad, and continued well after I graduated and found employment as a designer. It was always a way of demonstrating my passion in creativity to my employers and clients. Since I became a full-time illustrator, I've been lucky enough to be able to do most of my working out of my style with real client work. Here is the power of the daily project. You don't need to have real clients or real jobs to get started working out your style and voice. All you need is to start making work that you care about, working towards something in a focused and consistent way, and share it. One of the hardest things about doing a daily project, of course, is knowing what to do in the first place. I think this might be what holds a lot of people back from just jumping into it. In the project section, I'll guide you through the process of setting the project up, including choosing something to work out and a subject to test it on. Meanwhile, if you want to check out some inspiring daily projects from the past and present of some of my favorite illustrators, be sure to find some links in the class Projects and Resources page. 7. The 2 Kinds of Illustrators: Illustrators come in all shapes and sizes, but there are two overarching types, each pointing more or less to two different personality types. When we understand what kind of illustrator we are or seem to be most alike, it helps us better understand ourselves, how we work, what drives us, and especially inform how stricter, flexible we are with our style or styles. It's the difference between extroverts and introverts. Those of us who prefer to spend more time alone, are suddenly validated by knowing there's a normal group of folks we call introverts. We can realize we're the normal ones and not those crazy extroverts. But seriously when we realize the two illustrators, we can better understand why perhaps our style tendencies seem to be going in a certain direction. The first type of illustrator is illustrator as artist. Another name might be rockstar or the style forward illustrator. While we're all artists, the artist type is obsessed with self-identity in their work. At least in their persona, they're extroverts boldly expressing themselves in a very specific way. Their illustration style may seem to be more based on patterns and repeating elements, heavily stylized, and only ever using a specific set of colors. They apply their style to all illustration problems in the same way a brand might apply the same colors and styles to their products in communications. Artist type illustrators are known for their strong, singular voice across disciplines. Their identity is unmistakable, highly constrained, decisive, and limited. We may quietly begrudge them for it, accusing them of being one-dimensional, one-trick ponies. But look closer, they have a special talent for leading with a strong vision and they're able to bend all problems that come their way through their own unique vision. I've always envied artist type illustrators for the confidence and strength of identity they exude. If you feel you have a strong personality and artistic vision, over time you may find yourself leaning more toward the artist type illustrator. On the other hand, you may feel that having such an identity for design means you're not able to use all your artistic capabilities to the extent that will give you satisfaction. You might find that stifling. You may also be simply more of an introvert or a problem solver in your work ethic. Enter the second kind of illustrator. The second illustrator is the designer. Another name might be the problem solver or the idea forward illustrator. We tend to remember the names and bold lux of artist type of illustrators, but the designer type illustrators are doing just as impressive work, often taking on each project with a particular brand of cleverness rather than particular stylistic elements like colors and stuff like that. These are more like introverts, allowing the work and ideas to come through more strongly than any personal expression. That's not to say their work is not identifiable back to them as the artist, it's just more layered and faceted. They get their hands in more pots. The problem solver type illustrator enjoys the challenge of solving each visual problem in a more unique way. They too have a focus, a range in which they're able to work, but it's simply less overt and takes on more forms. Artist type illustrators might begrudge designer types accusing them of being chameleons, lacking in a clear personality, of being indecisive. But look closer, they know exactly who they are and use that to lead some pretty big clients into some highly creative, surprisingly varied artwork. They're every bit as decisive as the artist type, but they're able to adapt their abilities uniquely to each problem. I've always admired designer type illustrators for their creative prowess and ingenuity. If you feel like every visual problem moves you in different ways, that it's hard to simply hit every nail with the same style hammer, that might mean you're a problem solving or designer type illustrator. As you can see in the examples in the slides, there's so much personality and uniqueness in each example and they don't seem to have any problem attracting big clients and making endless new and unique work. These two types are, of course, extremes. You may like most people, find yourself somewhere in between these, and feeling more like one than the other at various times. Perhaps over time, however, you'll notice in your own work a general tendency toward one over the other. While at some point we'll find ourselves to be more like one of these types than the other. At the beginning, you'll likely be more like the designer type than the artist type. This is simply because you don't know enough about yourself yet to make this call one way or the other. This is perhaps a bit of a caution to people early on in their career who feel more like the artist not to close yourself off to stylistic exploration too soon. Stay open to as many opportunities as you can in your early days. Saying yes, not only gives you valuable experience and of course an income, it allows you to test out your strong vision across a wide variety of applications. Something many of both types of illustrators become respected for. 8. Solving Problems with Style: Style is as much about how you solve problems as it is about how you express yourself. We tend to think of style as being primarily a means of self-expression for an artist and exaltations of identity. But style is a tool we can either adapt to the visual problems that come our way or one which we can bend these problems around. For me, thinking of style as a problem-solving tool takes the pressure off any one of my styles or illustrations to express the totality of who I am as an artist or human. I am not my style. My style doesn't need to be the total expression of who I am. When it comes to working for clients, your illustration style should be expressive, but it's not about expressing yourself. It's about the you that they want to use to express themselves. In this video, we'll look at how style and problem-solving relates specifically. I have found these ideas tremendously helpful in understanding how I work and why my style seems to change depending on the job I'm working on. I've been able to use these ideas to be more intentional about my stylistic decisions, and over time in finding an evermore unified way of working across clients and project types. The power of one's illustration style is that it appears magical to everyone else. We wonder how on Earth the artists came up with it. It's a good question; where does style come from? How does an illustrator workout? How to illustrate anything especially at first when the options seem infinite? How do they know what style to work in or which technique or which app or which device to use? These questions become most acute when faced with the ultimate infinity, the blank page. We tend to equate having limitless options with creative freedom, but options are one of the biggest enemies of creativity. As we work toward a style that is our own, some decisive properties and constraints, we must prune away options rather than seek more of them. When it comes to working for clients, one of the first problems we solve is that of style, the various visual elements that come together as an idea in an image. For artists type illustrators, this problem comes mostly presolved. There's less of a conversation about what style to work in and more one of where the style should be applied. For designer type illustrators, one of the first jobs is to get on the same page as our client stylistically. What techniques should be used? Should the illustration be literal and realistic, or conceptual and stylized? We tend to think of style as coming totally from imagination, from inside the artist or on the other hand, we may think of it as totally based on some external technique, such as printmaking or vector art. Rather one stylistic approach is determined by three overarching factors, both internal and external. These are what I call the three factors of style. One, your natural drawing style, two, your chosen technique, and three, the subject you're meant to represent in an image. While the artist type Illustrator will have a clear stylistic vision from the start, then designer types, both must have a strong sense of how these three factors work together, how they influence one another, and importantly what their limits are. The first style factor is your natural drawing style. This is your natural way of drawing without being too conscious of your style. You may have a distinct way of drawing from observation or references, and then find that you have a different way of drawing from imagination. Perhaps one is more realistic and naturalistic and the other more symbolic or perhaps even cartoony. Warts and all, this is how you draw. This is of course, a learned skill that you can improve at, but there's also a unique hand or signature to your drawings, just like your literal signature in handwriting, which is almost inescapable. You hopefully grow to appreciate your unique drawing quality and can identify its usefulness and even power in building up your voice as an illustrator. The second style factor is the subject. By subject, I mean the forms that are being represented in your illustration. It also means of course the more abstract topic, like electric cars or mental health, but all concepts in abstract ideas come down to being represented in visual form of one kind or another, and that is the subject. Some subjects are easier to represent than others and likewise, certain techniques and drawing styles are more suited to representing certain subjects in certain ways. Illustrators need to become adept at understanding the nature of the subject matter and how they can use something from their own stylistic toolkit to convey it. I'll give you some quick examples of this in a few moments. The third style factor is chosen technique. The keyword here is chosen because this is in a way the most voluntary factor of the three. Your natural drawing style can be improved, but it always belies your hand. While you as a creatively can often choose a particular forms you represent in your work, there are definitely limits imposed by the subject that needs to be represented. But technique is altogether your choice. Of course, by the time and job comes to you, that decision may already have been made based on the work you've become known for, your go to media such as Procreate on the iPad or Watercolor on Arches paper for instance. Of course, choosing your go to set of techniques is a huge part of this class and huge part of your early development as an illustrator. The more you know your way around a particular technique, the more you're able to sum in it to solve visual problems and the more you're able to know which kinds of problems each technique will be best at solving. These are the separate factors and I have already begun to hint at how they influence one another. But where it really gets interesting is in how they work together and how you can dial each one up and down in a very deliberate way to achieve the stylistic result you're going for. In a Venn diagram of these three factors, your ultimate style is where they all overlap in the middle. Immediately you can see that your style depends on the subject as much as anything else. How you illustrate a given subject will be some combination of how you naturally draw and your illustration technique, or you'll choose a particular way of drawing in a particular technique that you feel best handles the subject. One of my favorite examples is drawing cars. I find it much easier to draw certain models of cars, something like 1980s Saab for instance, the newer cars, which seems to lack a distinctive shape. Then I find it easier to draw cars from the side than from a three-quarter view. If you're very strict about your style, you'll avoid situations where the subject determines the other style factors too much. In my own client work, I often have to adjust or re-interpret the given brief or subject in order for me to be able to enter into it from my unique style and perspective. My hero Paul Rand expressed this very situation in his essay, The Designer's Problem, and I quote, "As the material furnished, the designer is often inadequate, vague, uninteresting, or otherwise unsuitable for visual interpretation, the designer's task is to restate the problem." Here, Rand affirms my own belief that as illustrators, we don't have to be victims of a so-called bad brief, or even victims of our own limitations as artists. We simply need to be adept at bending visual problems around our abilities as much as possible. Whether we're artist or designer-type illustrators, we all have to solve visual problems to communicate ideas visually. It's just that the artist types more naturally have come to solve the preliminary issue of style. It's already built into their product. But problem-solving is always part of the job no matter what kind of illustrator you are. We've seen how style itself can be a tool for problem-solving, but what kinds of problems are there for style to solve? There are two overarching types of problems, representational and conceptual. When an illustration is representational, it depicts objects, people, scenes, and scenarios. It's direct, where the idea of an apple represents an apple, and a crowd in a subway represents a crowd in a subway. When an Illustrator is asked to represent a literal object, much of the Illustrator's job is already done. There's less worry about what to represent. The problem then really becomes one of stylization. How to represent the object, scene, or scenario in a given style. When an illustration is conceptual, however, it depicts ideas, it's more abstract and figurative. The idea comes first, and can be represented in different ways. The idea of education, for instance, can be represented by an apple, but also a mortar board cap or a pencil. The Illustrator has more work to do up front because not only are they called into represents something in a particular style, there are also expected to figure out the idea, what objects or symbols will best represent the idea in question. Why is it helpful to have this distinction and how can we as illustrators and use it to strengthen our own sense of style? For me, this distinction helps me realize why some illustration problems are harder for me to crack than others, why certain objects and ideas are harder for me to represent than others. Most significantly, it helps me understand why I have had to use different styles or approaches at different times over my career. In my early days as an illustrator, my style used to be a lot of digital collage, crude cut out shapes, expressive inky lines, sampled textures. It was somewhat abstract. This though was great for conceptual illustrations or for representing objects in a very simple, stylized way. Always it was good at suggesting the idea of something more than the specifics or reality of the thing. As soon as I needed to depict a scene or a scenario where specific details were important, such as people's faces or perhaps some aspect of lighting, the style broke apart. I remember when I first started getting more editorial assignments, I was increasingly asked to depict scenes and scenarios. By these, I mean, there is a settings such as a room, like an interior or an outdoor landscape, and often characters doing something in it. My abstract style didn't handle these very well. I found my style applied to these representational problems looked unintentionally naive. Although I managed to force a few representational illustrations using my conceptual style and digital collage techniques. I was never satisfied, and I think that's because my vision for my artistic approach had always been conceptual. I never wanted to be a scene illustrator, and if I'm honest, it was probably because I didn't think I could be. It was just easier for me to work abstractly rather than to develop the skills required to work more representationally. Today, I can look back and see that I simply didn't understand the difference between representational and conceptual illustration and I hadn't yet developed a style for representational type problems. Over the years, I observe in my own style a drift toward techniques that are able to handle representation were consistently and more robustly, and there are clues of my older, more abstract style, clues to my roots and my tastes in design, but somehow I've figured out a set of stylistic elements and mannerisms that can handle both conceptual and representational problems in a more consistent way. There's a sacrifice here though, I've compromised some of the more peer design or the conceptual approach that I started illustrating with, and which I still love. If I'm honest, I'm nostalgic for when illustration for me was more about conceptual problems, more vague and abstract artistic approach that reminded me of the work that inspired me, like that of Paul Rand and Saul Bass. But I kept finding that the market was asking for something different from me, and I was able to respond to this demand in my own way. The resulting style feels somehow less serious and less sophisticated or artsy. It's more silly and naive, so I've allowed the market to influence my style to some extent. When I looked in the mirror of the market, it reflected back to me a different image of myself than I expected to see. But within this, I've found an expression that is uniquely my own. I've learned to embrace the feedback others have given me on my work, which always ends up being something about how my work makes them smile or feel good. I always thought my work was supposed to make people think or come across as smart. I've learned instead to lean into what brings me joy as I'm making my work, a feeling of freedom and to take myself less seriously, which it turns out other people loved and wanted to be reminded of themselves in my work. For instance, I never thought I would ever be illustrating characters as much as I do now, but they are almost all I do. I used to represent characters figuratively, abstractly because they're always in service of my concepts. I never intended on giving them faces and individual personalities. I thought that was goofy, but over time I realize one of my guess was just giving people fun faces and being silly. A lot of my illustration from the past five years is utterly goofy. Instead of avoiding it, I can involved right into it, and now it's one of my favorite illustration and I suspect something my audience enjoys. What practical advice can I give you about the two illustration problems? Really, the most practical thing you can do is to practice working at both illustration problems. First, observe how you handle problems of direct representation. What does it look like to represent objects of varying degrees of complexity? How do you illustrate a beer can, a bear, or person? Next, observe how you handle more conceptual problems. What does it look like to represent abstract concepts like lost in the woods or a surprising number of YouTubers are leaving California or the race for our COVID-19 vaccine? Finally, observe the differences and similarities between these illustration problems. Do you find that you had to change your technique or style somewhat for either? Then ask, if different, which approach do you like best? Seeing how you solve both problems gives you an opportunity to understand your strengths and weaknesses as an artist, but also the strengths and weaknesses of your technique. We touched on this in the three factors of style, that you can now adapt your subject to work more with your technique and drawing style, or to be more selective in the kinds of subjects and jobs you take on in the first place. I do this all the time. When projects come to me that feel outside of how I handle problems of representation and conceptualization, I try to see if there's a way I can restate the brief in a way that works more for how I work. If it doesn't seem possible, if it seems like a force fit or not a fit all, I pass it up. In my sweet spot class, I created a project that gave students a chance to practice both kinds of problems, four spots of illustrations of simple objects, and then four more of more abstract ideas or experiences, and almost every instance, students found it easy to illustrate the first set, but much harder to do the second. In a majority of the second sets, students turned to using characters, figures, or hands to act out or mind the ideas. It's the opposite of the problem I had early on. Whereas I was able to depict ideas conceptually, I had a harder time representing characters and scenes. The project for this class is similar, where we'll get a chance to create a series of representational and conceptual illustrations in a consistent style, but in a more intensive way. 9. Follow Your Inspiration: We all start our illustration journeys by being inspired by someone else's work. The question is, what do we do with this inspiration? How can we channel it in our own creativity? I don't think many of us need a lesson in how to be inspired. There's so much creativity out there, whether on Instagram, Dribbble, Behance, or even on the shelves of your local library or bookstore. But what's next? How do you make anything without just copying what you love? Do you imitate the style? Maybe, it never hurts to imitate that which inspires you, it's how we learn and it's unavoidable. So yes, find out who makes the work you love, learn about their techniques, and learn about the artists. You'll find at least one or two who have the most influence on you, whose work speaks to you the most. These will become your heroes, study them, imitate their techniques, and learn about their habits. But practically speaking, how can you turn your inspiration into your own style, something that's not totally imitative? While it's not exactly simple or quick to work out the starting points, the initial steps to get you going are very straight forward. You know this step well. Identify the illustrations that inspire you the most, simply collect it, see what makes your heart sing. At a certain point, begin asking questions about it, perhaps categorizing and classifying the common qualities you observe. What do they look like? What do they have in common? Are all your sources of inspiration from a certain era or influenced by the same artistic discipline or movement? Is there a similar way of using color or texture? Next, find your heroes. Who are the artists behind the illustrations you love the most? You will no doubt have a very strong pull toward one illustration and perhaps one artist in particular. Find out who they are and look them up. Find more of their work. See what the common thread is. What is the stylistic or personal element that shows up across their work? What clients or projects do they seem to work in the most? Are they strictly in publishing, making picture books or do they seem to specialize in murals for instance? Would you like to see your illustrations in similar contexts? Next, determine context. Context is everything. Illustration is never made in a vacuum, it's always made for some reason, for some application within a specific niche and market. An illustration's context is basically where it exists in the wild. What is its final form? Is it on an advertisement or a poster in a subway terminal? Is it a full-page spread in a health magazine? Is it an art print sold at a home décor boutique? Understanding context helps us understand a few things. First, it helps us relate certain styles of illustration to certain markets. For example, packaging in advertising illustration will tend to favor flat, heavily styled, and often abstract illustration. Certain magazines, on the other hand, will tend to favor highly representational and realistic illustration over conceptual and abstract. Is the work you like more representational or more conceptual? Is it more realistic or more stylized? In which markets and contexts are you most likely to find the work you like? Finally, discover the techniques. The work you like will likely be within a similar style. A huge driver of style is the tools and techniques used to make it, is the work more painterly and naturalistic or more flat and stylized? What tools might have been used to make each piece? It's part of every illustrator's journey to discover which tools and techniques exist and what styles are possible by using them. Of course, this may not always be easy to answer, but just asking the question, how was that made? Is an important one and it can send you off on a path of discovery. While technique is not always the main driver of an artist's style, it's always an influence on the way an illustration looks. When classifying illustration by style, it's usually categorized by the technique used. As you can see in this table, there are two overall categories of media, traditional or analog, and digital. Then under traditional media, there are all the usual suspects, drawing, painting, mixed media, and printmaking. Whether you're drawing with pencil, painting with watercolors, or piecing together collages, when using traditional media, the techniques are almost always self-evident. Things get trickier with digital media since digital is very much style and technique agnostic. In other words, digital media is designed to emulate traditional media and you just have to figure out which app does the best job of emulating which traditional technique. The only exception really is vector illustration, which is digitally native and therefore, looks like what it is; digital illustration. Things get blurry when you start to mix traditional and digital techniques on the same page. This might make much of illustration today harder to figure out how it was made, since today, most commercial styles are made digitally and their techniques can be much more difficult to trace. In 99 percent of the cases, however, you can be sure that they were made using one of the big three programs, Photoshop, Illustrator, or Procreate. Due to Procreate's affordability and ease of use, it's quickly becoming the most popular tool for beginning illustrators. The question then is really which of these tools specifically was used for the art you love and in which way? If you like flat graphic artwork with no texture, chances are it was made in Illustrator. If shapes and lines are perfectly crisp, you can be almost certain it's Vector. If you like images with a lot of depth and texture and varying details, it's more likely made in Photoshop or Procreate, but some artists can manage to get a surprising amount of detail and texture in Adobe Illustrator. How each artist achieves artistic style on the technical side is, of course, part of their secret source and every illustrator has to go through a journey of becoming familiar with the different digital apps and media and finding out which of these they feel most comfortable in while achieving the visual effects they want. How you overcome certain technical challenges using the technology available to you is one of the ways your creativity shines through and becomes a part of your style. Let's look at a few examples of illustrations and the techniques that were probably used to make them. This first image is by Osaka-based illustrator Rebecca Green. Rebecca uses a variety of mostly analog tools, including various water-based paints and pencils. This beautiful piece was made using colored pencil on paper. You can see the individual pencil strokes and the texture of the pencil rubbing over the grain of the paper. Though it's likely the image was cleaned up a bit when it was digitized, the integrity of the original media is intact. Here's a piece by one of my all-time favorite illustrators, Czech-born Miroslav Sasek, who's most known for his travel-themed kids' books of the 1950s and '60s. Sasek primarily worked in water-based media like watercolor, ink wash. While his work is highly graphic and clearly made with printing media in mind, telltale signs of his painterly media show through clearly. I love how he abruptly cuts the white of the page into the washy textures, creating interesting effects with negative space. Had he not worked in the pre-digital age, I would have thought he digitally assembled cutout scraps of pre-painted paper to achieve this effect. Sacramento-based illustrator Christian Robinson creates graphically striking and strikingly sweet illustrations using a mix of painting and collage. He playfully assembles his images, leaving obvious clues to his underlying technique, achieving an almost three-dimensional and tactile effect. Robinson's rich textures and bold colors are countered by restrained simplicity in his forms and details, a confident and jovial minimalism. French illustrator, Blexbolex is known for his playful, abstract style in printmaking techniques. Blexbolex's techniques are rooted in printmaking, primarily silkscreen, although many of his compositions are digital. By including sampled paper texture and allowing overprints or were two solid colors overlap to create a darker hue, a sense of analog techniques is achieved. UK-based, Louise Lockhart or The Printed Peanut, creates gorgeous mid-century influenced illustrations for all services including print and textiles with bright solid colors peppered with grainy textures, her work is clearly rooted in a printmaking aesthetic. Whether she works digitally or in physical media, the end result is still like the other artist examples discussed here, very tactile. As her name suggests, The Printed Peanut style is made to be printed. I wanted to change gears here and show a piece that might be harder to understand in terms of technique. This is the work of Mathias Ball whose work includes freehand strokes and printing textures, but also bright, flat shapes we might associate more with digital media. Here's an example of what I would call predominantly digital painting. When an artist discovers a technique as a digital painter and masters it, their work transcends the media not feeling obviously digital or analog, all the while looking completely contemporary. In my own style, I've always been drawn to the printmaking aesthetic of mid-century illustration with limited flat colors, printy textures, and contrasting black line work. I've also been influenced by the collage light compositions of illustrators like Paul Rand and Saul Bass and even Miroslav Sasek who even though he worked in a gouache and watercolor technique, he always brought in the collage and printmaking technique into his illustrations, which added to their graphic stylized appeal. To summarize, we can learn so much about different illustration techniques in our styles by following our inspiration. We can look at that art that makes us say, "I want to do that," and then go on a journey to discover how it was made. We can also learn a lot by learning more about the artist behind the work and the markets they work in. One of the big questions we have starting out is about what tools to use and following our inspiration gives us some of the best starting points. 10. Lettering: The Secret Element: Since this class is about finding your illustration style, you may be surprised or maybe even disappointed to find that I haven't covered anything about the actual style elements like line, shape, color, texture, and so on. While it would be my dream to have a class that really gave you a sort kit of stylistic elements and instructions on how to put them together, ultimately, this would defeat the purpose of you finding your style. I think that's why many teachers won't touch this subject. In the previous lesson about following your inspiration, that's as close to pointing at techniques to start with that I can get. It really is a microcosm of my own journey of discovery. I started with my inspiration and worked away at figuring out how to learn from it, but bring something personal and new to it as well. This is what we all have to do to learn our craft and find our voice. That being said, I actually cover these building blocks in my other classes and I invite you to dive deeper into those when you get a chance. In Sweet Spots, I outline the five elements of style, the six principles of design, and the five principles of stylization. I also touched on stylization in ODD BODIES and Drawing Toward Illustration. Finally, while I certainly plan on teaching more about composition in future classes, I've given most of what I know about it in Drawing Toward Illustration, especially in the lesson called the Three Cs of Sketching. In all my classes so far, I seem to have left out one big stylistic tool that I believe every illustrator should have in their toolbox, lettering. While lettering is an entire discipline unto itself, it very often factors into illustration. When done well, it adds a ton of character to the illustration and becomes a hallmark of the artist's style. The good news is that you don't need a ton of different lettering styles in your repertoire. Honestly, one consistent way of lettering is all you need. Look at how Andy J. Pizza uses lettering consistently in his work. It's not copying a font, it's based on his own handwriting, and you can see how it's always been a part of his work from the early days on. Look at the work of Kate Bingaman-Burt. She has one main style of lettering, a quirky all caps hand style. She mixes it up occasionally to add a bit of variety. Her way of lettering is always made by the same tool, so whether she's using a script or square blocky letters, they always feel cohesive. Finally, take a look at the work of Louise Lockhart. Her lettering is often decidedly simple and naive, but it suits her work perfectly. Your lettering style doesn't need to be amazing, it just needs to be consistent and thoughtful. For me, one of the most disappointing things is when an illustrator uses a font in their work instead of using their own hand lettering style. I know that sometimes, it's not up to them or sometimes, a font is actually just what the doctor ordered. In my earlier work, I actually had two fonts that I use specifically as my house fonts. I used Futura and Monotype Modern. This really was an imitation of what I was inspired by in the work of Paul Rand. It worked most of the time because the style of these fonts matches the era of inspiration I was working from. But over time, I became more comfortable using my own lettering styles such as Scripts, Serifs, and hand-drawn Serif, and Sans Serif kind of font-influenced lettering. Today, I employ a very specific sensibility and technique in my hand lettering, and I take every opportunity to include lettering in my work. I think this is because I have typographic training as a designer and I have always been a tight nerd. But if you look closely, most illustrators will need to use lettering at some point, and each has their own tendencies in how they do this. You don't really need to have much to have indecent go-to hand lettering style for your illustrations. As a starting point, I recommend you aim to have just a simple but consistent hand lettering style that you can make with one of your go-to tools or brushes. Is it all one width or does it vary? Is your lettering tall or squad? Is it all caps, all lowercase, or a mix of both? Do you follow a consistent topline and baseline, or are your lines of words more loose and wonky? Practice your basic lettering style as much as you can, take every opportunity to use it, both in your art and in your actual life. Write notes to your roommates in it, take class notes in it. If you journal, write your entries with it. It will take a lot longer, but you'll become fast at it, and your journal entries will look amazing. If you want to go beyond a basic hand lettering style, I highly recommend checking out some of the great lettering artists here on Skillshare, including Mary Kate McDevitt, Martina Flor, and Jon Contino. I'll also leave some lettering resources in the class projects and resources to give you a head start. Whether you want to be more elaborate with lettering or really just keep it simple and focused on the illustration side of things, having a distinct style of lettering you can turn to in all your work will strengthen your style and identity as an artist and be one less variable to worry about, one less decision you have to make going into new projects. 11. Setting Goals and Aiming for Joy: There are no easy answers to the question of finding your unique style, but there are definitely habits you can adopt and attitudes you can embrace that will make the journey more enjoyable. One of the hardest things about finding a style you feel confident about is that there is no map. The closest thing to a way finding tool are the goals you set for yourself. Set goals that you can at least start moving toward with a sense of purpose. By setting goals, writing them down, declaring them into the universe, we suddenly have a means of gauging our progress. This feeling of progress is vital to staying positive and motivated. How do you set goals? When we think of setting goals, we may not even know where to begin. What should our goals be? Perhaps we think our goals need to look like the goals of others. Goals can only help if they are our own. They can only be counterproductive if they're not realistically aligned to who we are or where we are at in this moment. Goals are about giving yourself a direction to head toward, to focus on lest you flounder about aimlessly. You can only have an aim if there is a goal. Don't be afraid of making goals or that you might have to change your mind later on. Goals change all the time but we need something before us to work toward in the meantime. There are two kinds of goals. There are near-term goals and long-term goals. Near-term goals are more actionable and task oriented. Long-term goals are more inspirational or aspirational. These are our dreams. Long-term goals may be more vague and near-term goals more specific. For instance, maybe our long-term goal is simply to be an illustrator for a living. If you're at the very beginning, that might be all you know and that's good enough. It gives you a sense of what your short-term goals should be. Taking illustration class, get better at drawing, learn color theory. Set near-term goals that you know you can achieve if you tried, which are in your reach. Don't set goals that are too hard or out of your current ability to control. I like to use running as an example. If you're out of shape and have never run before, then don't make it your goal to train for and run a marathon in a month. Instead, make it your goal to run five kilometers in three months. Find a training plan that breaks down the workouts you're to do each week and just follow it. These are attainable goals. Only you bring the motivation and effort. That being said, you may dream of being able to one day run a marathon, that's a long-term goal. Maybe it's obtainable, but maybe it isn't. You never know until you start training for the 5K. Chances are you don't even know what a marathon really even looks like. I know I didn't have any idea what it was like to run for 26.2 miles. As I started running shorter distances, those distances grew longer and longer until I was able to run a half marathon. Then, I was certain I could run a marathon even though I hadn't run more than a half marathon and then a year later I ran a marathon. This is how long-term goals start as vague ideas, but become obtainable shorter term goals. We've never done them, but we have a strong suspicion we can attain them if we continue putting in the same level of effort we use to get where we are now. A good goal is challenging enough to make us grow stronger, but obtainable enough to not be debilitating or make us totally discouraged. Your goals will look different from anyone else's. That includes your goals for the kind of work you want to be doing, and also your stylistic goals, how you want to shape the way you work. A great way to set goals is in simply to write them down on a sheet of paper. Don't limit yourself to how many goals you can have. Just write out what you want. Then look at which might be aspirational or longer-term goals and which are more short-term, but you could do work on right now. It also helps to throw in a few dream goals. Illustrate the cover of The New Yorker, may be a long shot, but if you actually really want it, you need to name it. Don't put it there because you think you should or others would think it would be cool. Put it there because this would be your dream come true. Paper in a few still dreamy yet maybe more realistic goals as well. Illustrate more magazine covers in general. Work on an animated shot. Work with more larger brands. Build up your portrait illustration business. Naming things, writing them out on the page is often the first step in seeing them happen in reality. Put this piece of paper up on your wall and look at it sometimes. Let it haunt you or forget about it all together. Then early in the new year, review it, spend some time reviewing how things went. I try to write an annual reflection on the year past each January. I reflect on what goals I achieved and failed to achieve, and then set new goals or recommit to my old ones. I write these on a sheet of paper and replace the old one on my wall. While most of my goals aren't specific to style, I do write style goals down as well. Style goals can be specific or vague too. I've had goals like, make my work look like I'm having fun and embrace spontaneity and freedom. These are not something I can just do by changing which photoshop brush I use, but I can put more movement and feeling into my work or permit myself to be more spontaneous and do less overthinking, to trust myself more. Of course, though not as tangible as color or a texture, these are equally a part of my style. I just want to say one more thing and then we'll start the fun part, the exercises and project. As creatives in the age of social media and high anxiety, it's easy to get lost and feeling doubtful about our work, about ourselves as creatives, and I'm afraid to say about our value as humans. We place so much of our identity in the work we make. We forget to just enjoy making and maybe if we enjoyed making more, we'd enjoy ourselves more too. I can tell you that I have had my fair share of self-doubt and negative feelings in my work over the years. I'll be honest that I actually find it hard to look at most of my past work without pangs of regret and remorse. It's a wonder actually I've lasted this long or so it may seem. The thing that keeps me going is going back to what I love about making work and for me that is giving joy to others. Whether that's in helping solve a problem for my clients or making my audience laugh with a silly little illustration. My talent, it turns out, is not in making serious art, but in not taking myself too seriously, and in so doing, others are reminded they can do the same. I also remember that I simply love colors, shapes, lines, lettering, and all the rest of it. I love it. Even if I was an awful illustrator, I'd still love it and I'd still create with it. I'm simply lucky that something I love so much overlaps with something others will pay me to do. As long as this keeps happening, I'm doing my job and it doesn't matter how amazing I think my own work is or how tight and singular my style is. I said it before and I'll say it again, nobody cares as much about my style as me. Nobody cares as much about your style as you. Everyone else thinks you're pretty creative and that's what they like about your work. If your work is consistent in some way or another, if you're drawing from your authentic self, leaning into the things you're good at, creatively working around your limitations, then your work is as good as it can be. From that, your voice, your style will emerge. When you go to share your work, as we creatives do, share because you're pleased with it, because you want to share it with others, you want to make others happy. Because you have something important to say. Because you want to assure others that they're not alone. Share because you believe the work has value. Don't share because you want validation. Don't post your work and then determine its value based on likes and comments. I know you will, but you have to try not to. Post work not to get likes but because you like it. Every time someone hits like is a bonus, a high-five you couldn't have received had you never shared. I know this is Instagram centric, but it applies to everything. Our work should be an overflow of our joy of creativity. As soon as our work stops bringing us joy, as soon as it causes us to feel negative and anxious, we need to go back to that place of joy. That first inspiration that made our heart leap. That said, I want to do that. 12. Exercise 01: Inspiration Case Study: Now that we're done with the primer, it's time to get into the exercises. The simple exercises are a mix of a little bit of inspiration hunting and a little bit of writing. They're important because they're going to give us some starting points for the project, particularly in what techniques we want to explore. The first exercise is what I call an inspiration case study. It's really fun and simple. In this exercise, we dive into some of the work that has inspired us most and then make some observations. First, I'm going to share with you my own inspirational case studies as examples, and then I'll give you specific instructions on how to do yours. This is my first inspiration case study. It's based on my all-time favorite illustrated object on book, Seasons by Blexbolex. I found this book in a small bookshop in Vancouver, and it's been a huge inspiration to me ever since. The book itself represents for me what would be a dream project, and I think it's because I really relate to all kinds of things that are going on here like its use of printing textures, its peering of word and image is very clever and simple, and just in using simple shapes and a few simple colors, he's able to express so much. I feel like I've always wanted to do a project like this in my own work and it's always driven me in the background as I'm working. If you look at my case study, I just have some images of seasons, a few pages that have taken just from Pinterest or whatever. On the right, of course, I just listed things I love and I've already touched on these. I love the simple color palettes, I love the solid colors that overlap with overprints. Overprints are literally one ink printing over the other to make a third color. Even the clever abstract compositions that he makes, like if you just look at the example of the pool, you can tell it's a pool but it's not on the knows, there's something about it that's very mysterious. He went about it in a surprising way. That also really inspires me. Finally, I love his use of unexpected textures that he uses in clever and genius ways. Of course, I need to point out that his use of lettering, the way he pairs word and image, it's just part of his style and that's also been something I've been inspired by. On the left, of course, I've listed the name Blexbolex, and then for technique, I listed silkscreen. Now I know that Blexbolex is a silkscreen artist and a lot of his work, even if it's digital, is influenced by print making. As I was making this, it was fairly easy just to list that. I know a lot of you if you're just starting out, you're not going to know your way around all the different kinds of illustration techniques or the art techniques that influenced those. It will take a little bit more digging on your part to do that, but that's really just part of being more deliberate about your illustration. You need to go and find out. Find out in the bio page of the artist or Illustrator you're inspired by, see if you can find some clues about their techniques. Then finally, context. This is just that bit of information that helps me understand what kind of illustration do I want to do? What kind of markets do I find that in? Just knowing where I found the illustrations that I'm inspired by, where do they come from? Where do they end up living in the wild? That's what the context is. Of course, this is a very easy context to decipher. It's a book, it's publishing. If you're finding a random loose image on Pinterest, you're going to have to do a little bit more digging to find out how it was used. Go and find out what the context of the image is, and then as you do maybe two or three inspirational case studies, you might find some clues to the contexts or markets where the illustrations you like end up. My second inspirational case study is based on this book, Sparkle and Spin, which is my all-time favorite kids book. When I think about me making a kids book, this for me is the model of the kids book. What I love about it, of course is use of minimalism. He is like modernist designer, but when he illustrated, it was just so playful and minimal. I love how he would take a newspaper, cut it out, and just use words from the newspaper. Another thing that I love is, you'll have just this hand drawn on parts, details that maybe you would've thought needed more care and special techniques to use. He just draws them on with a pen and then adds them to the collage. For me that's just so spontaneous and creative, and really has an expressive effect. Again, for the inspirational case study, I've taken some of the images that I found online that relate to this book and then of course, I've just written over top some notes about the specifics of this piece that will help me understand my inspiration a little more. Here we have on the left artist, technique and context, and in this case, the technique is collage or mixed media, if you're being more general. The context again is publishing. That's a big clue to me. Blexbolex was also in publishing. This one's in publishing, and so I feel like one of my most inspirational contexts or markets for illustration is to be found in that same world in publishing. Then of course, on the right side, I have things I like about this piece. I've written things like simple, bold, primary colors, confident, expressive simplicity, use of collage techniques, handwritten/drawn elements, all these things I've talked about, I just put them here and then this case study just creates almost like a little mini guide or reference that I can look at if I ever want to draw from this inspiration, particularly. I did my exercises using Procreate, but you can do these in your Sketchbook or other preferred media. I've chosen to collect my inspiration images and write over them, but you can also just upload your inspiration images and type in your thoughts directly in your class project page. To start, think of one illustration or illustration-related products such as a book or print that has made and important impression on you, one that's perhaps your biggest source of inspiration. Try to find an image of it online and then 2-5 more images by the same artist. They can be from the same series or book or from different projects altogether, but they should all be stylistically related. If you're using Procreate, copy and paste them into a new canvas, as in my example. Next, write by hand in this same document over the images, what you love about these images. Again you can just type these into your project page if that's what you're using. What inspires you? Why? Name the specific things that you like. The more specific, the more you start to think about particulars that you can include in your own work. Finally, name the artist, the technique or genre of illustration and the context. Who made the work? How would you classify it? Where does the work exist? If you don't know the answers, look it up. You'll learn a lot just by Google-searching terms like process, technique, or even interview with the artist's name. Don't forget about the about or bio pages for artists who have websites. Finally, share this to the class project page. You should do at least a couple of these exercises, but you may do as many as you like. Take the time you need to go through this project. You might find you need an hour or more to learn about the artist, technique and context parts, especially if it's all new to you. Go down the rabbit hole, get lost, enjoy learning about your heroes and inspiration. 13. Exercise 02: Creative Self-Inventory: This exercise is a good way to reflect on your work and to get in touch with what you like about it, and especially what makes it unique. If you have some experience illustrating, I invite you to gather some of your favorite work and reflect on what you like about it. If you don't think you have enough work to go by for this exercise, that's totally fine, just skip ahead to the project. That being said, you might have more to go by than you think. Just open up your SketchBook or wherever your favorite artwork exists and look for three to five favorite pieces that seem to have a common stylistic thread. Just like in the inspiration case studies, I will be doing this creative self-inventory in Procreate, but you can do this in your SketchBook or other preferred media as you are able. Again, if you want, you can also just upload your inspiration images and type your thoughts directly into your class Project page. So to start, gather three to five images of your own illustrations which you consider your favorite or best work. It should be work you like in terms of style, not work you think sold well or got the most likes or pleased your clients. Place these on your canvas. In the same way as the last exercise, begin writing out what you like about each piece using arrows to call out specific instances or details if you want. This is not a time to kick ourselves down and be critical, but to truly celebrate what we love in our own work. Consider, what are some of the similarities in the pieces you chose as your favorites? What does it say about your unique artistic vision, or what do you personally bring to your art that no one else does? What do they have in common that you can or want to bring more of into your work? Share this to the class Project page. If you have a lot of work and are feeling indecisive about what you like the most, you can try dividing your work into different style groups and then doing separate inventories for each group. Again, take the time you need to go through this project. This could take a few minutes or a few hours. Gather up all your backup drives, sort through all your boxes of sketchbooks, let yourself get lost in this step for awhile. In addition to these exercises, I've also included a list of style related questions you can ask yourself. Find these in the class Projects and Resources page. This is my self-inventory. I just gathered some of my favorite images, things that I'm really into in my own work. These are images that I'm proud of. I can look at and feel really good about. I can't say that about all of my illustration work, but these ones are like, yeah, if I can do more work like this, I'd be really happy. Some things that I've noted about this and this is where I've just used the fact that I can draw over my work and procreate. I've just written little notes to myself about things that I like, like abstracted scenes. Everything is flattened and abstracted and simplified while still being representational. So I still have things clearly represented like a house plant or a chair or a cat or a guy with an ax, but is very flattened and stylized. Another thing that I love is the bright and simple color palette. I have lots of pink and this reddish-orange that I'm always been drawn to. It just shows up throughout my work and I take every opportunity to bring as much of that in my work as possible. Another thing that I love to bring into my work that I see here is a lot of hand lettering. It's usually a pretty simple, what I call a bold grotesque, just like an all caps block letter style, if you will. I make that using either actual physical brush with ink and I scan it in or I actually just emulate that using a brush in Procreate. That same thing is happening in my map. All these little labels, they're all hand illustrated. I really feel like that helps my work be distinct and stand out as my own. Lastly, I think I would point out in this set, I love how there is textures and it's a little bit of collage. Like I'll create a texture and then I'll close it into a shape. You can see that it's obviously not flowing with the way a shirt would flow a pattern if you're wearing it. I just love those clues of technique that can come out when you look at the illustration. Maybe as one last thing is I love cuteness. Bringing more faces on things, that's showing up in my work now. I'm having a lot of fun with that. So this is just my quick little synopsis of the work I love right now. Call that a self-inventory. By taking some time to do this, create a self-inventory, I'm encouraged to see that there actual patterns and consistencies in my work even across years which I like and I feel I can own. This is a helpful practice at all stages of our careers. We can always learn something about what our natural through lines are by reviewing our work. 14. Project | Day 1: Kickoff and Setup: In the primer, we explore the world of illustration style, about how it works, about how we can use it as a way to solve visual problems for our clients. We touched on how your natural drawing style, the given subject, and your chosen technique, all influence your illustration style. In the exercises, we did some digging into what inspires us most. In exercise 1, the inspiration case study, we chose at least one illustration or set of illustrations that most inspires us and looked deeper into the techniques that may have been used in the process. All of this has been setting us up for the project, a short-term daily creative project, where we'll create a series of 26 illustrations based on a common theme, working out a specific technique. The purpose of a daily project is largely to develop a technique by applying it to actual illustration problems. Of course, once you build up steam on your project, sharing it is a great way to keep the momentum going, to get feedback, and to get a feeling for creating for an audience, which illustration is always about. In this video, I'll give you an overview of the project to help map out the overall process. Then in the videos that follow, I'll give more specific instructions for each stage. The project is broken up into three overall stages; the plan, the pilot set, and then pushing through the rest of the set. In the plan stage, we'll choose the particular illustration technique and theme that we want to work out in our daily project and then write out a list of words from a to z, which will serve as prompts for each illustration. Setting up a strong specific plan will be key to keeping up our effort over the course of the project. The plan stage should happen on day 1. When you're done, share your plan with the class on the project page. In the pilot set stage, will choose three to four of the prompts to illustrate first. The purpose of a pilot stage is to test out and develop a visual language and technique that we can use for the larger set. I find it's always a lot more work to get the first few illustrations in a set worked out, but this gives you the chance to work out how you'll use things like shape, color, line, texture and so on before moving into the rest of the set. It also gives you the chance to work out how you'll handle different kinds of illustration problems; the representational and the conceptual. The pilot set stage could take as long as three days. When you're done, share your pilot set with the class on the project page. The push-through stage is where we finalize the entire set. Of course, we'll pace ourselves making one each day. You're welcome to do multiple each day if you feel inspired or to do one a week if that suits you more. The important thing is to keep at it, to push through to the end. Of course, each time you finish an illustration, be sure to share it with the class, and of course, wherever you want to share it. In the following videos, I'll further break down the steps for each of these stages. 15. Project | Day 1: Make a Project Plan: The first stage is to plan your project. Setting up a strong specific plan will be key to keeping up our effort over the course of the project. This stage is simple in concept, although, the A-Z list of words maybe harder to come up with than you think. Be sure to go through this stage carefully and thoughtfully. If you need a few days to work it out, that's fine. Of course, don't overthink it either. If you find you're getting stuck, it's better just to be decisive, even if you're not 100 percent on some of the particulars. Sometimes, you don't know enough to go by until you make a rough plan, move forward on the next steps and then suddenly things become clearer. The important thing is to keep moving. To start, we're going to choose a technique based on your inspiration case study. If you did multiple studies, here's where you'll need to choose one. Alternatively, if you already have a technique that you'd like to develop, go with that. Don't try to do it all in one project. You can always do a second series to work out another technique after this one. In the primer, we talked about how most digital tools emulate traditional or analog media. So if you know you're using a digital tool like Procreate or Photoshop, that's really just the tool only half of the equation. The other half is technique. For digital tools, you should have some sense of what analog media or process you wish to emulate or be inspired by. In my opinion, almost all digital illustration can be categorized under three analog or traditional processes: drawing and painting, printmaking, and collage. If the technique you want to use looks more like it was made with freehand strokes, you can slot it under drawing and painting. If your technique looks more flat with simple color palettes and subtle textures, you're looking at a more printmaking influenced process. If the technique or style you're going for seems to be a mix of handmade and digital parts, or if there's a sense of different styles assembled in the same page, this would be more collage or more broadly mixed media. For my project, I have decided to go with printmaking as my technique inspiration. Specifically, I'm inspired by how Blexbolex uses a few solid colors, simple shapes, and then layer these in clever ways. I also like the pairing of word and image. I put together these quick notes to show how the technique of my inspiration, let's call it the source technique, relates to the technique I think I will use or the destination technique. I'm just making these terms up to describe how I'm relating the technique used by my inspiration and the techniques I know how to use myself. First, I know I work digitally. Referring back to the table of traditional and digital techniques from the primer, I know that illustrator and Photoshop are both good with emulating printmaking and collage techniques. Next, I know that particularly I want to use textures, and Photoshop is much better at handling textures, so I'll definitely stick with that. I'll figure out certain details such as how to do the lettering and which colors to use later on. To be honest, in my project, I think I'm going to use the same underlying concept as Blexbolex, particularly of pairing word and image in a simple poetic way. Well, I don't intend on copying Blexbolex's exact style because his use of word and image is a consistent theme in his books, I do run the risk of looking imitative. I'm not worried about that for this project though, because working from your inspiration is one of my main points. We need to start there and hopefully along the way by working at our illustrations, we can emerge with something more from us. I'll be sure to name my inspiration for this project, especially if it looks too close to his work. I have no shame in saying this project is inspired by my hero. Depending on how similar it looks, I would also be very careful about doing anything commercial or for profit with the artwork. I would modify it somehow at first, maybe have a different approach with how I pair image and words, for instance, that's less directly inspired. If you need more information about the possible illustration techniques, refer to the table of illustration techniques I mentioned in the lesson, Follow Your Inspiration. I've included this as a download in the class projects in resources page. Now it's time to choose a theme. Your theme should be as specific as possible. For my project, I'm going to go with trail running, which is one of my favorite past times. While I love all kinds of running, trail running is more specific. Running in general would include road running, ultra marathons, track and so on. Trail running contains different feelings and visuals than the other types. If you're into travel, you might want to narrow in on something more specific like backpacking in Europe or travel in 2020. Each of these evokes a specific experience which will come in handy when you're trying to envision concepts for your illustrations later on. This step is optional, but it might help shape your project ideas more. All illustration ends up on something somewhere. This is its context. A context could be in a kid's book, as a series of posters or perhaps a set of trading cards. Where do you imagine your illustrations existing? Because this is a daily project that we'll share, of course, one of the contexts will be your project page here in the class. Another possible place to share it of course, is on Instagram. In this case, it's easy to envision what format your illustrations will take. Images made for Instagram will likely be square format. Illustrations for a picture book might be four by five aspect ratio. In this way, imagining a context gives you a sense of format. My own project for the class demo is based on my inspiration, a picture book by Blexbolex. I like how the images are paired with words and how they're spaced under each illustration for the words. My context will be a picture book and the format for each image will be a taller format around eight inches wide by 10 inches tall. Next, write out your A-Z list of things and ideas to illustrate for your series. You should end up with one word per letter, but at first, if you have a few words for some letters, just write them all down and decide in the next step which ones you want to go with. When building your word list, keep your words simple. Just one word to illustrate if possible. Since I'm doing trail running, my word list includes words like bear, fuel, lost, and recovery. In my list, I deliberately chose to include both nouns and adjectives, things that can be literally represented, as well as things that can only be depicted figuratively. Choosing a mix of both nouns and adjectives gives me the chance to work out how I approach the two different kinds of illustration problems we talked about in the primer, representational and conceptual. Bear and fuel are nouns and will be easier to represent as they almost demand a literal solution. A bear to represent a bearer and some kind of food products to represent fuel. Lost and recovery, on the other hand, are more abstract. They're certainly not objects I can picture in my head easily. Lost on its own might be hard to visualize, but paired with this specific experience of trail running for me, it makes me think of losing my way in the forest and looking at maps on my phone to see where I'm. Recovery is a mass noun meaning it has no specific form. Similar to lost when paired with the overall theme, it evokes a specific meaning. For me it could be beer at the end of a long run or race, for instance. I'm getting ahead of myself a bit here though. In the pilot stage, I'll walk you through a few instances of how I move from my word list to actual illustration concepts. But it's also helpful to think a little bit about the illustrative potential for each word right now. Once you've found words for each letter of the alphabet, it's time to finalize the list. You'll need to do this if you have multiple words for some letters. Consider the illustrative potential of each word. Referring back to the three factors of style, consider how each subject or here the meaning of each word, might be handled using your chosen technique or natural drawing style. Is it something you're excited about illustrating? Do you feel like it might be too challenging to represent clearly in your style? For my trail running example, let's say I had two r words, race and recovery. Here I might decide that I'm too uncertain about the illustrative possibility of race. It might be too broad or have too much detail. Maybe, I don't want to have to illustrate a full scene like a race scene, but I do have a specific vision for recovery. It would be simpler to illustrate this word for this letter. I can just rule out race for now and go with recovery. Who knows? Maybe once I got going on the project, I'll be more inspired to go with the idea of a running race or some other r word. I can always bring it back if I want. The important thing is to be decisive and to keep moving. Once you've finalized your list, you have your project plan. If it helps, write down in one tidy place the following: your chosen technique, your specific theme, your imagined context, if you have this, and of course, your finalized list of A-Z words, and you can do this on a separate page if you have to. Here I have my project plan and I just writing down all the things we've just talked about so that I have it all in one place and I can refer to it throughout the project. You can do this in your sketch book or wherever you want to make these notes. I just made a cute little title here, my a project plan, and of course we have technique, theme, context, and our A-Z list of words. I know that for my technique, it's going to be printmaking inspired and I know that the best app to do the kind of techniques that I want to use will be Photoshop. Next, I'm just going to write down my theme, which is, of course, trail running, and of course the context which is a picture book. These are all things that I've thought through and it's just something that can have on this page easy to reference whenever I step into this project, especially, if it's been a week between my last image and the one that I'm doing now, and of course your A-Z list of words. Now this could take you a little while and like I said before, it can be surprisingly hard to come up with and alphabetically separate specifically to your theme. But doing this work right now is just really great for just getting set up, and then once you come to illustrate every day each new illustration, you don't have to do that thinking anymore. You can just dive into the actual illustration process. Here are the list of words, and of course, I just had to be decisive and choose words whenever I had multiples for the letters. This is what I ended up with, and don't be afraid to just commit now. You might want to change it later, it's okay, but at least you have something. Then we can move on to the next step. 16. Project | Days 2-4: Pilot Set (Preliminary Studies): The next stage is to start the pilot set. The pilot set is where we start to play around with the techniques and ideas we declared in the planning stage. Whenever I have a larger project, whether personal or for a client, I always do a pilot where I work out questions of style and technique in a smaller set. This gives me a sense of how the rest of the project will go, and when working with clients, it gives them assurance that we're on track and it gives them a chance to weigh in with feedback before we get too far. For the pilot project, we'll go through the same process I use in my client work and the same process I've used in my other classes. We start with preliminary studies where we gather image references and draw from these with no other goal than to download visual information. In drawing toward illustration, I call this observational or O-Mode sketches. Later on, we'll start sketching out our actual ideas. But for now, let's just focus on getting into the world of our chosen theme to start. For the pilot project, we'll be working in a batch of three or four illustrations. But for the rest of the project, you might go through the following steps for each individual illustration. First, we're going to choose 3-4 images for our pilot sets. They can be the first four from A to D on your list or any you think would be fun to start with. I suggest choosing a mix of word types, say two nouns or simple objects that you can illustrate more through direct representation and two adjectives or abstract concepts that you'll need to illustrate more symbolically or figuratively. A strong pilot set will demonstrate how you handled both representational and conceptual illustration problems in your style. Just looking at my project plan where I have my technique, theme, context, and my A to Z list of words, I'm going to choose bears, fuel, lost, poop. I put poop down as one of my words. It's because when you do trail running, especially if you're out on the trails along time, there's not always a bathroom available so it's just part of the experience of being a trail runner. I had to put that there and I feel like if I was making this set for an audience of trail runners, they would relate with that and find that hilarious. I think I'll just choose a fifth just in case, I'll choose recovery. I chose these specific words for my subset because they present a nice balance or a mix of representational things to illustrate, and also some things that are more conceptual. Bears is easy. I can just draw a bear and I think that one will just be nice to enter into. Fuel again is a little bit more of a simple object. I could represent food products or something like that. Lost is one of the trickier words. It's probably going to require more complex illustration. But that's why I want to include it. I want to be able to have these more complex conceptual illustrations paired with these more simple, directly representational illustrations. Then, of course, poop, that's going to be an interesting one. I probably want to go about that in a indirect way, that presents a good illustration challenge. Then recovery, for me, that instantly makes me think of having a beer at the end of a really long run and so this list of five words, whichever I decide to illustrate will be a nice pilot set to start with. Next, gather some reference images for each word or illustration. You don't need to be highly selective here, just look up your words in an image search and download the images you're most drawn to. When I do image searches, I create a folder called references. Here I just have a folder called references on my screen and this is where I'm going to basically drag any of my reference images. For a multi illustration project like this, I'll also have sub-folders for each illustration or subject such as bear, fuel, etc. I simply go to Google or wherever I think the images I'm looking for might be and begin my search, placing my chosen images into respective folders. I've been asked about why I use Google images rather than Pinterest, where images tend to be more curated and refined, I actually prefer my source images to be as unfiltered by taste as possible. I know that when I'm Google searching, there's more of a chance that the images are basic and random. People who post their Pinterest often have a sensibility or taste filter or bias and I want to avoid this from the start. The purpose is to find images that give you a visual where you may not have anything to go by otherwise. For the word bear, for example, I just want to find images that help me understand the essential form of a bear. For the trail running theme, I'd be looking at either black or grizzly bear. For fuel, I'd be looking for the specific energy sources or foods used by trail runners. Products like energy gels and bars, as well as natural foods like bananas and nuts. As you search for your images, depending on your technique and preferences, you might want your references to be simple and straight on rather than from a more obscure angle. We're not illustrating yet, nor even sketching ideas. But we do also want to be mindful of the visual information we have to work with at those later stages. Spend maybe 10-15 minutes looking for images. I have my bear images, I'm just going to quickly go and do some images for fuel, and of course, by fuel I have to be specific, energy gels for running, and here I'm just looking at the different forms or shapes. What does energy or fuels look like in this case? These different shaped packages that you squeeze into your mouth as you're running these are iconic. I just want to be aware that I don't want anything too polished and then just draw that in my illustration. Like if someone does some flatly of their own running products, it's not like I just want to illustrate someone else's photo, but they can't be helpful just for helping a sense of what would a collection of these foods or products be? Now lost is the trickier word, so I have to be more specific, like lost in the forest. That may give me some interesting ideas to draw from. Just in terms of a forest. Suddenly I'm seeing the eerie feeling of, its dark green. I get a sense of loneliness looking at these. Here I'm doing a Google search of the direct word lost in the forest, which is already being super helpful. But of course, I'm not trying to illustrate like a painting or just reinterpret a photograph here. I want to at least have some sense of concept here. Maybe I need to think a little bit more conceptually while I'm Google image searching. Lost in the forest, like what would I want, maybe a first aid kit and I'll just take a quick screengrab of these things. Here I'm not going to be super choosy about the images. A first aid kit is generally just like a bag with a handle on a cross on it and some supplies so that might be enough just to get my imagination going there. When you're lost, I'm thinking of someone reading a map. I'm going to do some more image searching from the rest of my words, but I just thought I'd spend some time around one of the more challenging words that I think I'll have is the poop one. Now, I know that I don't want to illustrate someone's feces, I just think that would be distasteful, so I'd have to think conceptually about this one as well. For this one, I'm going to just say trail running half to poop and see what the Internet gives me. Of course, there's all the things you'd expect, people buy houses, and some images are a little less direct. Fortunately, I'm not seeing anything too gross popping up here, but yeah, I'm going to be looking for ways of representing this idea as clearly as possible without being too direct. Once you've spent some time finding some images, it's time to start drawing. In my drawing toward illustration class, I call these observational sketches because we're drawing what we see in our images. These are not creative. We're not expressing ideas here, but simply using drawings as a way of seeing and absorbing visual information to use later on from our imaginations. Spend as long as you want, drawing from your reference images, maybe 5-10 minutes per subject or word. You can draw with a pencil and paper or in a digital equivalent. My favorite sketching tool is the 6B or HB pencil in Procreate on the iPad. Again, these sketches, I have no goals other than just to draw what I see. I don't have to draw every single reference image I downloaded. Once I feel like I have enough visual information to draw from later without looking at references, I can move on to the next. I just have a few of the images that I think will be useful for possible concepts so I'm not coming up with concepts at this point, but I'm also trying to think about what are the different things that might make good concepts. I have bear spray, I have someone using that bear spray. Another thing that I think of when I'm on the trail and I'm thinking about bears, is these yellow signs that warn you of a bear in the area and things like that. Here, I'm just trying to get a sense of what do these guys look like. I can really get lost in this process and sometimes, it will last a lot longer just because I'm having fun or I don't feel like I've downloaded the information to my mind through drawing enough yet. I'd say just take as long as you want and if you're enjoying it, enjoy it. Here, I'm thinking about what are the proportions of a bear? How do their limbs connect? What are the iconic shapes of a bear? Just by looking at these images, I'm seeing that I would never have imagined that a bear's arm swoops back and then forward like this, just for instance. Another thing I notice about a bear is that when you look at their face, their eyes and snout or nose area or muzzle only occupy less than the lower half. This is interesting. Their ears are way up here, and they have these big fat heads, their face really is just a tiny part of that, and I'm just thinking about what do their facial features look like, how do they connect, stuff like that. Then for bear spray, I'm looking for, as I'm drawing this, downloading information, I really just want to know what are the parts that are essential to this when it comes to communicating the idea of bear spray to other people. What are the tell-tale signs of a bear spray spray bottle versus, I don't know, maybe [inaudible] that you'd use for personal safety in an urban context, maybe that's different. I would imagine that bear spray, they always have this yellow label, tons of words and warnings, which is interesting, which could make for really interesting illustration if you wanted to nerd out with all the type and stuff like that. Some ultra or extra or max wording and part of the branding, some kind of bear. I'm not trying to design anything here, I'm just trying to get a sense of what is the essential form of this. What are the things I need to observe about these things? A sign and then of course, the bear. Now, here's a funny instance where I'm drawing a drawing of a drawing, it's like a silhouette of a bear that someone has illustrated. The question for me is, if I were to use this as my final illustrations, something about the bear sign, do I just copy someone else's silhouette of a bear or do I innovate in that in some way, in my own way to enhance the uniqueness of the illustration? I don't think this guy is a trail runner, he's more like a hunter. I'm going to move on to the next image. Lost is a tricky one, there's no one image for loss in the way that there is for bear or bear spray. Here, I'm just drawing these references that I've gathered and maybe, I can do something with them for a lost later on. This is a compass ruler type of thing. Now, for this demo, I'm racing through these drawings. I usually like to take my time with these and really sink into them when I do these for most of my projects. It's relaxing, its a nice way of drawing and getting in touch with that side of things before I have to actually start thinking of ideas. Something I think about in terms of being lost in a forest is the idea of way finding, so maybe like signs if you're on the trail. When you're doing free sketching, if you want, you can be very loose and fast or you can be really detailed, whatever it takes to just get some ideas going in your head. Again, I have a few images here to reference and just draw from them, not worrying too much about how they play out in later stages. There's this guy running in the woods, and you can be as detailed as you want about these. For me, as I'm quickly doodling these out, it's helping me at least to get a sense of some of the ways, say for instance, like legs look, when someone's running. What are their clothes? What's going on in that image? Also, of course, what's happening around the person? What does a forest scene look like? I love the pattern of trees, the trunks, and then the idea of these branches swooping down with green, and then of course, the path. This image here of a guy running on his own, if you can just set it aside the fact that for me, this scene, its foreign to me. The idea that it's more in a desert, that's not my experience, but I like that he's got his hydration pack on and he's just running alone there, and that makes me think of running around in the forest. Not quite sure if I'm on the right trail so it's a good thing to just keep in mind. I love these way-finding signs, these bright colored orange signs that are nailed to the tree trunk, those are really a strong image in my head. Then of course, thinking about being lost and needing a medical kit, what are those cues look like. Of course, someone lost, looking at a map, I need to create a new space that I can do this in. A hand, how does the arm relate to that map? Looks like she has a baby carrier on. But I can just substitute that with the idea of a hydration vest or something for my concept if I wanted to use an image like this. Something like that. At least here, I'm getting the idea of what someone who's reading a map in the forest looks like. I do think that this is actually a horror scenario if you're in the forest and you're trying to find your way, and one of your only ways of wayfinding is your GPS device or your map. What if your battery is low, could I use that as some way to tell that story of being lost in the woods? In my free sketching, my O mode sketches, I really got into drawing these as I went along, and I want to share a few of the sketches that I came up with. I know I breezed through the demo there, so I'll just show you some further or a deeper dive of these O mode sketches that I've done just to show you what happens. You can see, I've done some studies of bears, I've even looked at how wording looks when it's paired with the sign images, for instance. Then moving on to the fuel sketches or observational mode sketches. I'm just trying to say like, "What does a package of energy gel look like, for instance? What are the different shapes?" I went through my reference images and just drew what I saw, drew whatever felt like it was drawing my attention the most. Same with lost, I was drawing people running, of course, trying to think of what are the objects that you might associate with being lost, such as certain GPS devices or campuses or other wayfinding tools like maps. Is it someone looking at their phone, are there wayfinding signs and things like that? These are the kinds of things I was just drawing in mostly in observational mode here. I also just wanted to share some of the other concepts like the poop one, for instance, what does it look like? Do I draw someone crouched by a tree? We're talking about poop here, there's going to be some noses turned up at this. Of course, what does a beer can look like? It's pretty straightforward. The tricky thing with beer as I was just doing these observational mode sketches really was like, how can I draw it without it being a certain brand or even a certain variety of beer, is it a lager or a pilsner, maybe not everyone likes those flavors of beer or whatever. It's really how can you be specific without being too specific? In this case, that might not be my point. When you're done, you can move on immediately to the next step or take a break. 17. Project | Days 2-4: Pilot Set (Sketching Toward Ideas): This stage is where we start sketching out our actual ideas. In my drawing toward illustration class, I call this ideational mode or I-mode drawing. The difference between O-mode and I-mode is that now we're drawing from our imagination, not from references and whereas in our O-mode our only goal was to download some visual information to our imagination, in I-mode our goal is to come up with actual ideas for our illustrations. Some words will be easier to come up with ideas than others. If you're representing objects, the task is simply to depict the object in a stylized way. You're thinking mostly about form here, not what you will illustrate, but how you will illustrate your subject. If you're representing abstract ideas on the other hand, you'll have to do some more work. You're thinking about what you will illustrate in addition to how. When sketching toward our ideas, we start out rough and small in thumbnails. The goal at first is quantity, just keep plopping out ideas as they come without fussing about details too much. Then later we go through our ideas to see which stand out to us the most. We then choose the ones we like best and refine before moving them into the final illustrations. First thing I'm going to do is create a thumbnail template, because we're now thinking about ideas, we'll start thinking about the actual format of our illustrations. Whereas the O-mode sketches were done in free form, I recommend sketching using thumbnails for this stage. So when I make thumbnails using procreate, I like to use drawing guides and by turning those on, you get basically graph paper or grid paper and then you can just measure out using the squares what your aspect ratio will be. So mine's eight by 10, or four by five, so I'll just count every two squares as one inch. So 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10, by 8, 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8. Now you can be as precise as you want, I'm being super precise here just so I know exactly what my format and aspect ratio will be as I'm thumbnailing, and of course these are thumbnails I want to make these a bit smaller, so I'll just scale that down proportionally, and I could probably fit six on this page quite easily without them getting too small, so I'll just duplicate that. Now of course you can do this and just draw squares out in your sketch book or in another program of your choice. This is just one of many ways to do this. It's a pretty simple task. Ultimately you should end up with just six thumbnails if you're using this format, in my case, eight by 10, I can fit a six. If you're doing a square format, then of course you'll be able to fit more in here, probably three rows or four, and then I'm just going to scale that back down to just barely light enough that I can see them. I don't need them to be totally dark in order to do the thumbnails, I just need to be there so I know what my borders are. I can turn off the drawing guide so it's a little cleaner, and then over this, I'll actually start my ideational sketches. Sketches always start rough and uncertain. Just start in the first thumbnail with whatever comes to mind. Don't be precious. You're not wasting time and you're not wasting a square on your thumbnail sheet. Every rough idea, every mark you put down will give you some clue to a more specific idea or a new thought. When you fill up your page, start a new one. In procreate, I just hide the current layer and add a new one, always keeping the thumbnail boxes layer visible but in a lower opacity. If you find thumbnails too restrictive for coming up with ideas, just work on a blank sheet and worry about format and proportions later. The most important thing at this stage is to have good ideas. You can always make adjustments to the proportions later. Spend as long as you possibly can or want working out your rough sketches, but at least 10 minutes per word or concept here. You may find it takes a lot of roughs to really feel like you're getting anywhere, but then you might find it hard to stop. If you're feeling slow to start, keep pushing through. If you're finding it hard to stop, keep the party going as long as you can, but of course remember that the more ideas you have, the harder it might be to choose in the next step. You can stop once you feel you have genuinely found at least one promising idea for each illustration. So I'm thinking about those bear images that I was illustrating from and I'm thinking about the idea of how that plays into my experience of trail running. One of the first ideas that I thought of, which may be a bit obvious, but I'll determine that later, are the 'BEAR IN AREA' signs and then there's some bear here, and well, yes I want to make sure my overall sketches end up looking good eventually. Right now I'm just focusing on ideas and then when it comes time to the refined sketches like choosing the ideas I want to go with, I'll take those into a more refined form. You know, maybe I want to include one of those 'BEAR IN AREA' just using a stick bear here, a 'BEAR IN AREA' sign on a tree or maybe in a forest. I'm also remembering that the format that I'm inspired by is pairing the images with words. So my word here that I'm working with is of course bear and just by writing that word here, big, where my big word is going to end up in my final format, it helps me play the image I'm drawing or the concept with the word and see how those work together. So I might continue to do that for all of these concepts, sketches or these thumbnails. Maybe it's the idea of a bear standing on its hind legs, I'll figure out what that head looks like later, I'm really trying just to draw from imagination right now. I might look at some reference images later when I'm refining just to make sure I have some details right, but the idea here is just to get the idea out. So I'm thinking of a bear looking up a tree and maybe there's someone's shoe to imply that there's a runner who's just run up a tree, something like that, maybe he has running poles and they're dropped down here or something like that. There's also the bear spray concept, so pairing words with images, it could be very powerful just to have an image of the bear spray itself, the can with a little trigger finger hole part there, and then do something with the label here, something like, 'BEAR MAX' or make up some name that's not too specific but evokes that sense of bear spray, and then there's like warnings of explosiveness or whatever here. Danger. Do I need to show a hand actually operating the bear spray? Again, I may have to look at my hand to get a sense of what does it look like to pull that trigger or even look at an image, a reference image just to get that right. But right now I'm just asking, is this a good idea worth pursuing and going through all the trouble of refining later on. Again, how does it pair with my words? I'll probably make the overall proportions of each illustration, the illustration part a square, and then fit the word down here. Is it a runner who's contacted a bear in the woods and they're freaking out? Just get whatever ideas come to your head at this point. You may find yourself going into detail and trying to get your form right and then coming back and like what I'm doing here, being more schematic or doing stick figure type things just to work out the idea. Both are fine at this stage. We do a little bit of both. Here I have some ideas that I think will work. What I'll do is I'll just move on to the next concept. I'm going to do a lost for my next example. It helps just to get my mind into this next concept by writing the word, even if you're not going to include words on your actual illustration in your project. Writing the word somewhere around where you're sketching might just be a way of getting some marks on the page and to just get you flowing right away. For lost this is going to be a trickier one. I'm thinking of some image that's clear and evokes a sense of being lost at the same time. One idea is a trail runner behind a map, a trail map, whatever that looks like, maybe there's a forest behind this person. Then of course, if there's a map, I have to think about whether it's going to have some actual map on that map, something to think about. But I do like that image, it's clear and iconic. Someone's behind the map and even just the fact that they're behind the map makes them lost to us which reinforces the concept. I'm thinking now about that image of the runner we saw from the back that we drew in observational mode in our preliminary sketches, and he had his hydration pack and he was running into, out on some trail somewhere. I'm going to change his situation a little bit like he was in a desert. I'm more familiar with the woods of that Pacific Northwest, so that's trees. I mean, what can I add to this idea? I'll just copy and paste this over. That might be more specific about being lost because right now he's just like having a run. He could be enjoying himself feeling good, or he can be feeling lost. Maybe there's some way of evoking that sense with something more ethereal feeling. A little less about what's realistically happening and maybe about what he's feeling. Maybe these waves of fog or something that come from him. The word that comes to mind is just like it's ethereal, and maybe in these foggy areas, I could have different directional arrows to show the sense of confusion, and maybe the trees pop in and out over them. It creates this very dynamic play on this idea of being lost. That could be an interesting one. I could definitely see some really interesting potential for how my printmaking based technique would work here with overlapping colors and overprints and stuff like that. That could be really cool. Let's try a few more. I think for this concept here, I'm going to make it as close to my own experience of being lost as possible. So when I'm out running trails, especially trails I'm not familiar with, I get lost every time. There's no question about it. I always find myself questioning myself at junctions. I'll be at a junction and I'll be, is it this way or is it that way? So that very specific experience of being on a trail and there's a fork on the road and I'm questioning, do I just choose this path based on intuition or is it time to break out my phone and look at my map and see where I'm at really. With this one, I just think of me and my running hat and looking at my phone puzzled and which way to go. There's often little trail markers on the trees, and in this case, maybe in this illustration, we'll have one pointing one direction and one pointing the other, just to give that sense of choice. Sometimes when you're lost, you're lost in your choice. You don't know which way to go out of two different options. Which is a metaphor for life. We have, I love the feeling of just all these trees, these vertical almost like bars and the light filtering through, some of the branches coming down into the image. So here I'm thinking about ideas, I'm thinking about composition, I'm thinking about which of these is going to make the biggest impact. I feel like I haven't filled out my sheet of thumbnails for lost, but I really feel like I definitely do have some strong options to go with here, and I'm sure within this set, I'll have at least one to go through with in the final illustration. Here are some other sketches that I worked out some ideas. I have here, some sketches for fuel. So the kind of food you'll eat on a trail. I just have a mix of different things like flat lays of iconics looking energy gel packages. Another thing I thought was maybe just like I used energy gel like I spent energy jaw with top ripped off and the glue sugary stuff coming out like a used toothpaste tube or something like that. Maybe one package to show clearly what it is and one that's been used and of course, maybe a different assortment of natural and product-based energy sources for running. A few other things that I had for lost, for just the way-finding signs on a tree trunk. Those could be just very graphic in themselves with a bright orange perhaps, or maybe just holding a phone with your trail maps, just there. Maybe someone's holding it. That's a simple concept that might work well. I had some sketch options for poop, here I have someone doing the deed and someone's coming down the path and she's like freaking out because that would be horrifying. Here's something a little bit more sneaky. Just someone's head, what are they doing out? We don't know but paired with the word poop, it might evoke a sense of someone doing that business. Of course, something a little bit more genteel. A shovel, some hand sanitizer, and a roll of toilet paper, for instance. Just more playing on the idea of the person at the tree trunk, which I really liked. I thought that was funny. Then maybe like an outhouse out beyond the trees, and a backpack that's been dropped off on the trail. For recovery, I just obviously started with the beer can and trying to figure out what is labeling going to look like on a beer can so it's not too specific, but it's still evokes a sense of a beer? Or maybe it's the idea of being refreshed. What does that look like? Can I even illustrate refreshment? What does that look like? Maybe it's a more character-driven illustration. Someone at the finish line of a race, for instance, and they've got their beer in hand and they're obviously so happy to have it. These were just some more examples of bears that I illustrated. Some bear concepts. Just, do I show a bear like straight up-close cropped in? Could I have the bear spray just spraying? Do I need the hand? Does it work just to have it without the hand? Or is that weird that it's spraying without someone actually making that happen? I could sketch out ideas like this for a long time, because it feels like once I get going, there's always another idea to have. But once I feel like I have five or six good candidates, or at least one within those five or six sketches that I've done, then I can feel good about moving on to the next stage, which will be refining the illustration and just working out some of those details of composition and format with more attention. At a certain point, you have to stop coming up with ideas and start refining them. I find it helps to take a break after coming up with my rough sketches, because I can come back with a fresh mind and I'm able to see my concepts more objectively. Sometimes I see high potential in ideas I thought were throwaway while I was making them. Other times, I realize none of my ideas are quite solving the problem yet, and that I still have some work to do at the rough stage. When you're ready, choose the strongest concept for each batch of sketches. A strong concept is both clear and compelling. It clearly communicates the intended idea or message and it promises to make for an interesting illustration giving your stylistic decisions and techniques. Having selected these, trace over them with more confident strokes. This will be more important for any illustration techniques that are more precise or mechanical, like vector illustration, or in my case, printmaking inspired techniques. I find it's really helpful to be as resolved as possible in the refined sketches so I don't have to further work out how certain shapes or details come together in the final illustrations. In more freehand inspired techniques like drawing, and painting, and collage, perhaps it's may be easier to get away with not being too specific in your refinements. That's because the final techniques are less mechanical and precise, allowing you to improvise more. There's more room for fudging things a bit. By the end of this stage, you'll have one refined sketch for each of your chosen pilot illustrations. Now I'm just going through some of the sketches that I made in the rougher stage and I'm going to just see which one will make the best candidate for refinement and ultimately to bring into the final illustration. Just starting off with bear. I'm just going to choose one of these that I feel is strongest. I like the story that's happening in this one. The idea of a bear climbing up a tree and someone is possibly up there. I think that one is good. Then just as a possible, I'm just thinking about the potential for just like a nice, bold, iconic illustration in this beautifully printed picture book. Maybe it's just like a really cool yellow or orange sign with the bear and area type. That could be cool. It's not super creative, but it's certainly evocative of the experience of being on the trail. You see that sign and you're like, should I go? This one's a maybe for me. Then maybe just the bear spray as another object. I think there's something about that. But I am actually feeling strongest about the bear and the tree. I'm going to go with that and then move on to the next concept, which was the idea of being lost. What I'm looking for is the idea that is going to most clearly represent this idea of being lost and being trail running. This guy holding the map, I think it's so clear and there's a lot of fun about it. I think there's something clever about just showing only the map and then the guy behind it. But what about the guy standing in the woods? There's a little bit more story to this one. As an illustration, that's actually going to be a little bit more complex for me to try to do versus the map one. I think the one where the guy is just holding the map is definitely strong and I can definitely see myself illustrate it in my style and using my techniques. This one, I think is going to be a little bit more of a challenge. It's something that I think I'm going to challenge myself just for this demo, just to see how that goes. I think I'm going to try and go with this one as my concept and see how it goes. If I have to bail later on, I have some pretty good other concepts. The other one that really shows some potential for me is this one with the ethereal waves of lostness, that could be fun. But will I be able to use this idea of these waves somewhere else in the set? Doesn't matter. It just sends me down this path of what if this is something I can't do more than once in the set and becomes a bit of an outlier. I maybe overthinking it, but that is a thought that I have at this point. All that to say, the sure thing, I think is this guy here, with this guy up here as a possible second. In terms of the fuel illustration, I think this one with the energy gels and the different packaging and stuff can be really fun and a nice break from the other two. They both have a character or an animal on them. This one is more just objects, which will be a nice diversion from that other approach. Now, to get these rough sketches refined, I'm just going to copy them into a fresh document where I can trace over them with more confident lines. First, I'm going to do the bear here. In a fresh document, just pasting that bear down and just make it lower opacity, and because I'm refining it, I'm going to just make it a little bit bigger so I can just be a little bit more higher resolution with my drawings. So here, because this is refined, I'm actually thinking more precisely about the proportions, because it's a sketch, it can still be a little bit loose. But I want to make sure that I'm giving myself the full square that I want an image to exist in this whole square here, and the words down in this, what's left over of the page. I'm just going to start off with just being a little bit more clear in all my forms. We're going to have the tree and I'm still not referencing any reference images here. I'm still trying my best to go by imagination. It's in this gap between what you saw in your references and what you remember from them. Some interesting quirks can come out of that and that can become just a part of your style. Like how do you draw things from imagination? I think that's a really important thing to work out. You have to be a little bit brave and let yourself draw badly in a way in order to do this. Of course, this isn't a perfect bear looking up a tree, but some unexpected things happen in that. When you look at another illustrator's style and you wonder, how did they come up with the way of drawing that bear? Or how did they come up with the way of drawing people in a certain way? It's very likely it was an accident and it happened because they weren't being fussy about the reference image or the reality. They were just drawing from imagination and that's really how things like that often come about. Here I'm also thinking about my technique. How are these forms going to be built? How am I going to create these shapes? Because I'm working in Photoshop, I use the pen tool to build up a lot of my shapes and create precise lines in my shapes. This bear has to be a clear shape that comes out in that way. I'm not going to be able to take paint brushes and really sculpt it and mold it up, and be too loose about that. I need to be clear about that. Next thing is what's on the ground? Maybe just a suggestion of ground, some dirt and grass. Then the background, do I need to draw a whole forest behind the bear? Or is it enough just to more symbolically and abstractly represent trees in the background? Does that give me enough information for this concept? I like how that gives me some weight space surrounding the bear, which makes that symbol of the bear more clear, a mischievous face on the bear, and just some of those swoopy fur branches coming down, and of course, the wording down here. I'm actually going to go and use my flat. I have a flat square brush. This is a brush that I use a lot for my lettering in Procreate. It gives me a uniform width for my letters. Which really works well with how I often letter. This is a digital brush that I use that I found works very similarly to when I use a flat paintbrush with ink on paper. Because this actually works so well, to emulate that I actually often just use this brush instead. I can actually turn off that original rough sketch and we can see here that already it's a lot clear. I might even want to take this one more time into refined until I feel good about it. What happens when I draw over it once again I can maybe work out some of the things that were bothering me, like the shape of his arm and so on. Now I'm looking at my rough sketches for lost, and the one that I felt the best about was this one here, this guy standing in the woods and wondering which trail, which fork in the road to take. Maybe what I'll do first just like I did in the other one is just write out that word in a more concrete feeling lettering style. That should help me just get a feeling or a good starting point for getting this into a more refined place. This is very specific to the way I work and it just creates a nice satisfying starting point when I start to refine my sketches, sometimes I feel like I'm a bit hesitant to start going in and just doing something that I feel confident in doing, in this case doing some nice bold lettering that just gets me going. With this one, it's the idea of this guy lost in the woods trying to figure out where he is. Maybe he's leaned over a bit more and we just see a part of his head and he's looking at his phone. His other arm is maybe touching around on the map trying to pinch and zoom and stuff like that. He's got his little runner pack on. Maybe I don't need to show all the way down to his shoes. Maybe enough just to make him bigger. How much information do you need in the image to create the story, and then how much is too much? So cropping in here is editorial decision I'm making that I think might work in this case. Then I don't have to worry about what's on the ground and other things like that. I have enough information. I have the background forest, I have the signs nailed onto the tree, the little directional arrows, and the guy whose lost, and that's enough. I don't have to worry about rocks and pebbles and sticks and roots and salamanders or whatever else is on the ground. I know that in my final art these trees are really going to be stylized, abstracted, notional. I'll imply the sense of texture and bark on them but not get too detailed about anything else. I think the central figure character here is the lost runner. Just really building up the actual shapes that will form my illustration and work in my style using my techniques. Maybe he's got the tracker hat. I think it'll help to give this more atmosphere by including some of those swooping branches from the trees. It gives me an opportunity to include green or whatever color I'm going to use for foliage. Otherwise, it's just a forest of these brown trunks and just a little bit more like I said atmosphere or texture to come into the image. I'll be able to figure out exactly how those will work once I start getting into the final. But it's good to really at least map them out here. Imagine I'm showing this to a client to get their approval or buy-in on the image, it should at least be clear enough for a client or someone else to say, "I know what that is," and I don't have to do too much explaining. That's always what I aim for in my sketches. I always find that if I'm trying to pitch a sketch to my client and I start writing paragraphs about what's in it, I know that the image isn't doing its job. The image should be clear enough that all you really need to do is write why you made the image not what's in the image. By the time I'm finalizing and creating all the finishing details in the actual artwork, which can take a long time and are harder to change, by the time I'm doing that the client already feels good about the image and it's way less likely I'm going to have to make any changes in that final stage. There's my refined sketch for my lost concept and I would probably honestly take this into one more round of refinements and that will just make sure this is super clear, and I'm super certain that all the little connections of the illustration where the shorts become his bare legs and all these kinds of things I know what all those intersections and everything are going to look like as clearly as possible so I don't have to work them out too much more in the final. Of course, when you get into the final there's always more refinement to do. You may feel more comfortable letting that all happen more at the final art stage. In fact, if your technique isn't, I'd say, crystallized in the way that mine is over the many years that I've been doing this, it's more likely that you're going to have to work those things out at the final stage. I really nail as much as I can in the sketch, get as buttoned down as possible and then it's just smooth sailing, and I can focus on things like color and texture and those kinds of things when I'm doing the final art. 18. Project | Days 2-4: Pilot Set (Finished Artwork): This stage is where everything comes together. This is where you'll use your chosen technique to create finished illustrations from your sketches. When you've mastered a technique, when you have a style that you are used to working in, this stage becomes much easier. I find that I can spend more than half a project just in developing sketches. When it comes time to illustrate, it's smooth sailing. This is one of the big advantages of having a set style or set of styles that you're used to working in. Chances are, of course, that you'll be trying out a technique you've not yet mastered, and it will be this stage that you will likely find most difficult. This is where you'll experience the steepest learning curve and the widest taste gap as others, such as Lisa Congdon and Andy. J. Pizza have pointed out, where what you envision will be different from what you're able to do right now. You should expect at this stage, especially in the pilots, to run into some technical hurdles. You'll wonder how to do all things such as, how to achieve a certain effect, which brush to use, how to get a certain texture. All these hurdles are the things a lot of people give up on trying to overcome because it's in working through these, or finding workarounds that you'll master your own technique, and come out on the other side with a more true to you style. This is the part of the class where I wish I could give you a step-by-step walk-through of your chosen technique, show you how to overcome your specific hurdles. Of course, I only work in my own way and my purpose is not to make everyone work in my style. That being said, I'll walk you through my own way of doing things because, at least, I can tell you how I'm applying the principles taught in this class to my way of illustration, and that is really the most important thing I want to give you in this class. I want you to see how style is not just something I do completely by intuition, as if by magic. There is a lot of actual thinking about things, strategizing and rationalizing. The good and bad news is that, all the techniques you want to learn are out there. Whether you want to learn gouache, silk screening, or Procreate, someone is teaching a class on it. My job in this class is not to give you specific techniques, but to guide you in discovering your own techniques and working them out in actual illustrations. Honestly, going through this process of hitting walls and hurdles is going to make you grow more than anything else. You'll find you'll either learn ways to jump over your hurdles or you'll find ways of working where you can successfully avoid these hurdles altogether. By the end of the stage, you'll have a pilot set, maybe 3-4 illustrations that demonstrate the style and approach you'll use for the rest of the set from E-Z, or whatever you left out of your pilot set. This will probably be the most difficult stage, but you'll then be able to take everything you learned here and let it guide you, hopefully more smoothly through the rest of the set. When you're done your pilot set, be sure to share them on the class project page along with some thoughts about how the process has gone or is going for you. It's always so encouraging and inspiring to see your work up, both for me and for other students. One of the huge things about this project is sharing. Sharing gives us practice and being vulnerable about our work, and in illustrating for an audience. It also gives us a valuable opportunity for one another's feedback. Be sure to look at others projects, give them some love, and even some friendly feedback if you can. If you plan on sharing on Instagram, please be sure to use the tag, TheStyleClassIllustration. I'm looking here at my screen and what I've done is I've just put all my selected sketches up, and I've just altogether so I can see them as a set. They all have a consistent level of refinement to them. They're all very clear, and also very clearly still sketches. What's left to do is to make the magic happen with color and texture and shape and all the other good stuff. I just have to pick one of these and start bringing it into an illustration. I'm going to start with the bear. Here I've taken my refined bear sketch and I've copied and pasted it into a new Photoshop document. So for me, I'll just quickly call it the settings of my document. They are 2400 pixels wide by 3000 pixels, or in inches, that's 8 by 10 inches at 300 dots per inch or pixels per inch. This is just the format that I chose to work in, and now, here I actually have to set that exactly in Photoshop, this is where things become real and we have to be more precise. So I have my sketch here. One of the first things I do when I bring a sketch into my final illustration file is, I wanted to pull back in opacity, so I just drop that down to around 20, 30 percent or so, and I let that sit on the bottom layer group that I call sketch. That just lives there. I can make it visible or hide it as I need, as I'm working, and over the sketch layer group, I put a layer group on top that I call art, and this is where all my artwork happens, all the finished stuff happens within this folder. Very importantly, I make this layer opacity of this whole group to multiply. So everything I do in that art layer group, the sketch ends up showing through all of those things. You'll see what I mean as I go along. Of course, as I guide you through my own final illustrations, I'm going to be using Photoshop. This is just the app that I use that works best for me. If you're using Photoshop, then great, then all these will apply, but still, most of these things are going to apply to any app that you're using, whether it's Procreate, Illustrator or otherwise. That's just a bit of a preamble, but definitely the most important thing to get out of this are the decisions I'm making. How am I applying the techniques and stylistic things that I do to these particular illustration problems? Now, before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let's just save this. I'm going to take this illustration and just name it, bear. I always like to give it a version number since this is my first attempt, I'm going to call it Bear v1 and then of course, the little extension there, psd. The next thing I want to do is just make sure I have my proportions. As I was saying before, I want the illustrations to be a perfect square and then the remainder of that space will be where I put the word. A quick way of just making sure that there's a square is, I use the marquee tool, the square marquee tool, and I just hold shift so it makes it perfect square and then fill it out from edge to edge of the Canvas here. Then I just take a guide and I put it down at the bottom. There is my perfect square. I can deselect. As you can already see I do have to refine my proportions in my sketch a little bit. I can see that where I intend on putting my lettering is a bit big. I'll just put that down there and I will be doing that lettering or custom later, so it doesn't matter too much about exactly how big that is down there. Then, of course, up here, I just want to make sure I'm filling out as much of this top square as I can. I'll just save it again and we're off to the races. For me, the first thing I did is just, I pick something in the image to start flashing out. In this case, it's going to be the bear shape here. So I'll just start making my paths here with the pen tool, which I use to get these accurate shapes. I have these funny little toe parts in here for the bear. I have to be careful. I'm just going to quickly go through the shape here and then I can refine it a bit later. Now, using vector paths, the fewer control points you have, the easier it is to control the overall shape so I'm always mindful of that. That's actually a trick I learned in making custom lettering. I think it was in Jessica Hische's book about designing lettering, which is totally different from what I'm doing, but some really good principles in terms of just constructing elegant vector paths. It's more of an illustrator based technique, but I find that works well. Again, the main principle I learned here is that the fewer control points you have, the more easy it is to actually control that shape. You'll get fewer quirks associated with it so that's just the foreground shape of the bear. In my own technique in Photoshop, I make these paths and then I apply them to entire layer groups, and then anything I do within that layer group becomes masked by that path shape and I'll show you what I mean. I could fill that in with a solid color like that, but because I want to have some textures in this, I'm going to use a brush that I love to use. I can't remember what this brush exactly what's called it's one of Kyle T. Webster's many Photoshop brushes. This one's a Guache based brush, I believe it's from his Mary Blair set I have since named it something more specific to something I was doing at the time, but I use it all the time and I'll just show you how this works out. I've made that path shape, I've masked it, and now have a layer within that layer group and you can see as I'm drawing, it fills in the shape. I'm just going to choose a different color. When you're starting out, you may not have a good sense of what colors to start with. I have a handful of colors, maybe six or eight specific colors that I almost always use as much as I'm able unless the client asks me to do so otherwise or I have some other constraints that I'm working with, but that makes my color choice easy. I don't cover how to choose colors in this class. I do go into it with Sweet Spots and I gave some prompts in terms of some colors starting points if you don't know what colors to start with. Please take a look at that in the class, projects, and resources in my Sweet Spots class. Let's just start to give me a sense of what the bear shape is going to look like and that gives me a feeling of like I'm making progress and I find it easier just to keep going. Once I get some mean form or shape on the page. Even though this bear shape is all like one shape, I'm making the hind limbs or like the feet that go behind separate, and that gives me some flexibility in terms of finishing them off later and adding textures and helping distinguish foreground and background on this particular bear shape later on. These two limbs that come off in the back can be one group and I'll fill that in with the exact same color as before. I'll probably add some either shading to distinguish these from the forms of the bear that are more closer in the foreground or I'll use lines. Here's a detail that I'll pay attention to. I made my little paw shape there using the pen tool and it made these little loops, this little bit of negative space here. I can go in and really be fussy about that detail. Even out the size of each finger. This little pinky here can be a little bit smaller, but it's little details like that. Like when I look back at my work over the years and I see when I thought it was okay just to leave those, there is a spontaneous energy to them, but I look back and I see a mistake. I see something that may be a detail, maybe I call it a rookie move and so now I'd like to make sure all those details are really ironed out. That looks better to me and I can keep going and of course, you can choose to start just making your overall forms really quickly and then come back to those details later. That's often what I do. But sometimes if I spot something, I'll just deal with it right away and keep going. That's something that can do quickly. But let's fill this bear in a bit more. I find this texture is still a bit too grainy. I wanted to just fill it in a bit more and with this particular brush, I find that making a tad bigger and then working more on the tip fills in that texture a bit more solidly. Even though this is a technically not a printmaking-based brush, it's supposed to be more Guache. It has a greenie texture that reminds me of greenie ink on paper, which a lot of paintings like if you look at the work of the Provensen, they worked in Guache, but then it would be printed on papers so there's this crossover between those Guache techniques over to printmaking techniques. They all feel the same to me so I'm going to use a different brush for the bear's eye. Here I have a custom, I call it like a Nib Pen type Photoshop brush. I use this one a lot for details and line work and stuff like that. Here's the weight of the eye, I am going to fill this in with, of course, the pupil to be dark. My techniques, including the colors I want to use and how many colors I want to use, are really inspired by what Blexbolex did in his work. Where he had just like a handful of colors and if you wanted colors that didn't exist in his palette or a darker tone, he could mix those colors by printing one over the other. I can emulate that Photoshop using the multiply channel or the multiply blending mode. For this, this blue is actually the darkest tone that I can get in the colors that I want to use. I'm just going to quickly draw up here. I want to use this orangey-red. I use this in almost all my arts, it's just one of my favorite colors I'm going to use that. I also want to use this dark blue, of course. I think yellow's going to be a great color for the trail running theme. Then green would be a great color, of course, because you're in the woods, there's lots of green around, so it just makes sense to have that color. So these four colors, I'm pretending that my piece is going to be printed using a limited set of inks, in this case, these four. So the question is, how can I really work with these colors and stretch them as much as possible while staying within this constraint. For the bear, I want this now to be the start color so I can use the red to make the rest of his body even darker. So I'm just going to set my blending mode to normal. I'm going to choose a brush here called Godfather of Grain, which is by Retro Supply Company, a nice printing, printmaking influence brush. I just start drawing in some texture over leaving the edges a bit unfinished there, and that will suggest light. Of course the face, I want it to be lighter, so I'm going to avoid the face area. You can see that I missed some of the fill in the forearm there, but I can figure that out later. But let's just now put the blending mode back to multiply. You can see I get this nice dark tone that's made up by the blue and the red, the deep blue and the red, and it creates a nice darker tone. If I do this all over, it will create some nice effects. There's some quirks here, like some of that red from below showing through here. So I'm going to just fill in that blue behind. That fixes that. Of course get some of the back limbs, I'm creating a new layer and getting my Godfather of Grain and just filling that in back here as well. I'll multiply that. So I'm finding that deeper blue just a little bit too dark. I think that if I lightened it just a little bit, went with a lighter one, I'd probably see more of that contrast between the darker red tinged areas and the blue below. So what I will do is I'll just remove that, I've selected just like a slightly modified lighter tone of that same color, and already I'm seeing this work much better. You really see that subtle but way more noticeable transition from the red tinged areas or the red tinted areas to that blue. I think that's going to come through a lot nicer. Just as a technical aside, when you're working in print, if you're making a picture book for instance, and it's going to be on certain kinds of paper, especially uncoated not shiny paper, those darker colors start to really bleed in with each other. So having a slightly lighter, darker color will really help your chances of it not getting too muddy-looking when compared with the other colors, especially if two darker colors are butting up against one another. I'll just do this also for here. So I'm going to go back to Godfather of Grain. I think I'm going to just fill out some of these areas that I feel are a bit now too light and contrasty. We want to be mostly dark except for the face. So now I want to work on the details of the bear like the nose, the mouth and some of the lines perhaps. I'm going to use a brush here, it's a 4H pencil from Kyle's drawing box. I think if I do white here and just use some quick strokes, that should be enough. Now I'm going to put these strokes, over top all the bear shapes and just use it to sort out some of these details that otherwise would be lost. I think what I'll do is I'm going to start smoothing on a bit and this will just help my brushstrokes to be a lot more smooth than I can naturally make with my own hand. For this, I think it will help for sure. I'll set that to around 70 and now that's much better. One thing I'm being mindful of in terms of style is coming into that stroke lightly at first, almost like a jet landing on the runway. At first it touches lightly and then the full weight of the thing is on the tarmac. That just lets the stroke here just really feather in. So it doesn't create an abrupt end to that shape, which I think is a nice effect for this particular style. Up here, I'm going to also just define where the neck and chest of the bear intersect with the arm that's in behind. Again, just stopping short of the arm there. I don't need this line to butt all the way up to here, if I did that, I'll just do this really quickly, you'll see that it draws too much attention to this intersection right here. I don't think that's necessary to distinguish these two different forms that are on two different planes. Same with what's going on here. Just a little line to separate those bare fingers a little bit more. Now, bears don't really have fingers, but this is not a realistic looking bear and we're taking some liberties. These little details just help give it a little bit more character. I can always revise them later if I feel like they're the wrong way to go. So here I am finding that the arc of my stroke is actually not matching up with the arc of the path shape that I made there, and that's something I'll want to fix. I could fix it now or later, but it is something just to make note of and just having that transition be a little bit smoother like that. The nice thing about that fading effect, that plane touching down softly at first is that it implies that the line continues up without you actually having to put the line all the way. It's just a more elegant way of placing that line. For this detail here, I just want to make sure that these little lines, these white lines are masking over or obscuring or hiding the little cusps, these little sharp corners in here. If I just let that strokes at right up there, it takes that little sharp moment of tension away and softens it a bit. The only thing left to do on the bear here, of course is the mouth. I'll just try stroke there, leave it and see how it sits with me later on. Then in terms of the nose, I'm going to go back to that red layer this one here, and just use my inker brush on that same layer and using the same color of red. It's the same idea of printing that read tone over the blue tone, which is that printy thing that I'm trying to go for in this style, and just drawing that nose in there. If sometimes I find that the edges of what I have painted or drawn on, aren't exactly what I want. I can use the eraser tool set to a brush. This one's another one that I've named and long since forgotten what the actual brush is but I can set the eraser tool to this brush and then just smoothen that up a bit. Just clean it up. I don't want to perfectly crisp. I want a little bit of a rough handmade feeling to it, but it's a small detail and I think it just looks a little bit more smooth. Every now and then it's nice to hide your sketch and see how your actual artwork is coming along. I'm feeling pretty good about this bear, and he doesn't look super scary or menacing but he is super cute. I think I'm just going to keep going with it. The next thing I'm going to do is I'm going to do that tree. I think for this one I'm going to make the tree come down to about the level of the bear's feet. I'll just draw a guideline there, just to show the bear's feet are. The bottom of the tree and the bear are both sitting on an imaginary ground that I may not actually have to draw in. Of course, I can extend the tree past the top of the canvas because of course the tree goes more than just up to there. Again, I'm containing a layer group with a past shape and then everything I draw in this layer group will be contained, will have that nice crisp edge. For the tree, I'm going to use, if you reference the colors, I speck for this project. I need to find some way of making brown. I think my best bet is going to be somewhere in combining the red and green colors here, or in my imagination, these are inks. I'm going to draw down a red layer here first, again, using my more broad texture based brush. What I love about this brush is I can make it bigger, but the texture that comes out of it always stays the same scale no matter what I do. I could keep brushing over those and the texture where those little exact pricks of white coming through always stay in place as though that's the actual literal texture of the paper so that's great. It's true, feels a little bit crooked so I'm going to straighten it out, maybe make it a bit more, less tapered. The next thing to do, of course, is to make that tree a little more brown. If I draw some green over that, again setting the blending mode to multiply. I feel like that gives me a nice brown color really. Next thing I might want to do is, add some of the actual maybe bark textures to that. I think what I'll do is I'll add one more layer here and use that blue shade I was working with. I'm going to use more of a pencil texture, and just draw that in. Of course, if I set the blending mode to multiply, suddenly it darkens and has this nice harmonious color effect. Lastly, I want to add it just a little bit of texture to this tree just to give it a bit of atmosphere. Again, godfather of green is great. Even though I'm using this grainy brush, I'm using the other, the more gouache brush that I'm using for the broad textures. Then I'm using that pencil brush for some of those outlines. Ultimately, I'm going to be sticking to a very narrow, limited set of brushes and Photoshop that I use in different ways. The challenge is in how to make those all do different things. But the benefit of just using a few brush styles rather than a different brush for every possible different effect you want, is that it creates stylistic consistency. That's a huge thing if you want consistency in your work, always use the same colors. Always use the same set of brushes. Always use the same consistent series of lettering styles. All those things add up over time. If you look across your body work and if you're always being consistent in that way, a consistent style emerges. I'm just going to use that grainy brush, same shade of blue for harmony. I think If I just create one thing like that, that's enough. For those trees, I'm going to use my gouache brush here. I'm going to take the size down to maybe 60, and use green of course. I'm going to set smoothing on maybe to 70 or 80 percent. What I don't want is something that looks too mechanical. I want there to be a bit of quirk in it. I'm going to do the branches here just a bit more swoopy than I drew them in the sketch. Give it a bit more character. I could copy and paste that, maybe make one lower, and if I find that's just too obviously repetitive, what I might do is just modify each one independently. So they're duplicates, but I can modify them each independently, which will give each one one little bit more of a unique feeling. I'm using the eraser tool here to just reduce and sharpen up some of these, make them look a little more like I meant it, and that's a huge thing when you're using digital tools. The risk you run by using someone else's brushes that are commercially available is other people are going to be using them as well. So you're not ready to go, if you found a brush you love, you should always find a way of using it in a unique way. Sometimes that will come very easily just in the way it lands by the way your hand moves naturally, but also in how you modify the marks that that particular brush makes. It really makes a big difference from just using some out of the box preset or brush. I'm letting some quirks to remain as I'm doing this, and allowing some accidents to remain and not worrying too much about it, is a strategy you can use to keep your work looking spontaneous and not overworked. For grass I'll use a pencil-based brush, something to make it look hand-drawn in there, and I'm just going through a few of the pencil brushes that I have on hand. See which works best. This one works well, and just being mindful of the widths that come out. Again, I'm employing repetition here, if you're thinking about stylization and principles of design. Repetition here is just using three of the same thing, but each one is also independently made, which makes each one, they just creates a bit more movement so it's same but different. For those poles, I think what I'll do for those poles is be more precise. I'm going to use my pen tool, and I think those will be yellow. I used yellow here because I need to add some color variety, and is just an opportunity to bring some of that here. For the handles, I'll just use that darker blue. Want those handles to top out, and I'm freehanding this as a small detail, and I can actually just duplicate that. Put that on the other pole, and then I'll draw the little loops maybe using the same line quality as I did on the bear. I might even just duplicate that for further repetition. Sometimes the bottoms of those poles would have some rubber part. So something like that. It may be some sense of a design or maybe these are collapsible poles, and this is the joint where you can extend it, something like that. Well, before we get into the lettering, let's just take a look at the image. At this point, the question comes to me of, is it enough that this bear is here and these poles are here, but you don't actually see the runner? I like this. I think if it's a series of trail running and you know that already, you come in and you see the poles down there. There's enough story in the image, and there's something satisfying when you're viewing an image where you get to make up what happened a little bit, you get to participate in making the rest of that image. I'm going to leave that there and focus now on making the lettering. Often I make my lettering using a flat paintbrush using ink, and then I put that on paper and scan that in. But I actually have a way of just emulating that digitally. I will just show you how I do that in Procreate. I'm going to hop over here to Procreate and I'm going to create a new document here. I showed you earlier using drawing guides. Drawing guides are excellent for doing lettering. What I like to do is meet that drawing guide closer to say, a value of 75. Then I just measure my letters out in terms of how many grid squares each letter is. Then I know if I need to make, like for this series, I'm going to be doing a word for the bear, and then for lost and then so on for the whole series, it'll be good to know how many grid squares I used and then I can be very consistent about the proportions of my lettering. For this one, I use a flat or square marker style brush. This is going to be a bit small when I bring it into a Photoshop, so I'm going to make this a little bigger. Just in terms of path smoothing or stroke smoothing like I was doing in Photoshop. You can do that also in Procreate. The feature in Procreate is called streamline. For this brush and for lettering having it around 50 percent is good. It takes away the raw shakiness of my hand, but still allows some accidents to happen just in a slightly lessened way. So the first word here is, of course, bear. Just measuring how many grid squares I've got here, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Now, you'll notice that I did certain strokes before I went into my horizontal strokes. I just find that when doing a word and I focus on the vertical strokes first and then on the horizontal strokes, it creates more consistency in the rhythm of these letters. Of course, now I'm going to use an eraser tool to just cut back some of the stuff that came raw out of my hands, refine it a little bit. Again, I think that's a huge thing when you have so many brushes at your disposal in digital tools like Procreate and Photoshop. It's not just enough to have the brush and the effect that comes out of the box. It's good to find a way of making that work a little bit more in a custom way and showing that you have more control over your tools. I do allow some of the the bits that I erase back to remain visible just as a little bit of a clue of my process without it being totally hidden or totally obvious on the other hand. Before I was an illustrator, I was a designer. I was trained as a designer and through that, we did a lot of typographic training, learning about how letters are formed in a more official sets. A lot of the way I understand how lettering works comes from that and I've also had some practice doing more hand lettering from textbooks such as speed ball, hand lettering textbooks and other such resources. Just even understanding the idea of doing your vertical strokes and your horizontal strokes, I didn't make that up, that's just a technique I've learned through studying other people's lessons effectively. I have my first word here. Now, it's going to be important for me when I returned to do more words that I always know what settings I use so it's consistent for this series. Knowing how many grid squares this is tall is part of it. The other part of it is just knowing when I'm using my flat brush here, what is the size setting that I used. I'm just going to make a note of the fact that these, I think were 16 percent, and I'll just write that down here in the document. Spreadsheet was 16 percent. Now I'm just going to copy this and paste this into Photoshop. Because this is an iPad and I'm working on a Mac, I can just use AirDrop for that, so I just copy that, and then when it come into Photoshop here, I'm going to go right up to the top layer and art, piece that in, and that almost is a perfect size, that worked out well. Of course I have some adjustments to make to this word. I'm going to bring the R closer to the A. I'd like to make it read as well and give it a bit more of the textures that are evident elsewhere. I think it's subtle but it doesn't have any of the same textures and I want that to come through as well. What I'm going to do is just cut the whole thing. I'm going to go to channels and I show this technique in inky illustrations specifically where I use channels to sample in inky textures. It works the same way with any kind of mark making any kind of media. But basically, I create a channel of these marks, in this case lettering, and then I right-click on the alpha channel and then use the mask that that loads to create a solid color fill within the shape of those letters. I wanted to make this that red color, but I'm going to leave it that blue color, and I'll show you why. I'm going to just bring this down here. That's actually the darker color. I'm just going to bring that down here. I'm going to actually just turn that into a Smart Object so that if I size it up and down, it doesn't lose any information. I'm going to size it down a bit, put it here. Here's how I'm going to get that texture that I got from the brush. I'm just going to make a layer over top and then select the texture brush, make sure it's set to my red color, and I'm going to just start painting over that with that same brush. Now, here's where the magic happens. If I hit Command Option G, that creates a mask from the marks below and allows me to paint whatever I want over top of it and it just takes on the qualities of the textures or whatever are happening on this upper layer here. Photoshop officially calls this clipping mask. You could also just right-click that layer and go create clipping mask and that applies that texture and color that I made over top of it to below and suddenly you have this harmonious image, all the same textures happening, a little bit of variety because I've used different brushes and definite color harmony because I've used only four colors and I've combine them to make additional colors, and all that comes together really nicely in the final image. Having done the bear, I guess we'll move on to the next illustration. The next one I want to tackle is lost. I've pasted my sketch here into the final artwork file, and now I can just make sure it's sitting in that space nicely. I'll just maybe separate the lettering part from the actual illustration part. I'm going to put the lettering more closely where it will end up later on. Then this one, I'm going to make it fit, I want those legs to get right down to the bottom of this square. The difference between this one and the bear illustration that I just did is that the bear one where the bear's feet were in the bottom of the tree sat a little bit above that baseline, that guide that I have there. This one's going to go all the way to that guide and we're going to cut off the trail runners legs here a bit. As long as I compose this image the right way, it'll look just fine. I've had that sketch and I pulled back in less opaque and then I have everything in the art layer. Now, I've made an action that just does all that automatically now, but it does exactly what I showed in the last image where I have the sketch on one layer and pulled back to about 20 percent, and then all the art happens in the art layer group. Again, I'd like to start with the thing that stands out to me most in the image, that's always my starting point, and of course t, hat's going to be the character in this case. I think I've chosen a tricky part of him to start with, but I'll roll with it. It's tricky because there's a lot of layers here. There's his tricep or the top part of his arm, and then that overlaps his forearm. And then there's the phone and the fingers on there. That is a bit much, but I'm going to just boldly go into that anyway and I'll figure that out in a bit. I'm actually going to treat his whole torso right down to his knees as one piece for now. I'm going to create my first masked layer group like that. I think I'll introduce just one extra color here, kind of like a really pale pink. I'll use that as my base color. As you go along in your set, you might find that you need to modify your constraints just a little bit. In this case, one of my constraints was having those four colors. I've actually decided I want one more color, base color to work with. Now I have the orangey red to green, that deeper blue and the yellow and now I'm adding the pink, this very pale pink. From this, I can get all kinds of additional tones by augmenting it by other colors. That's my first forms down. Now of course, he's not wearing clothes that are all that one color. I think his shorts are going to be this deeper blue down here, I'll just rough that in. Then, I think his shirt, I'll start with a yellow and see how that goes. I'm just thinking about what the tree colors behind him will be, so I need colors that are different from that. Now I'm going to just use a pen tool here just to make that shirt a bit more precise and cut out. I'll just hide my sketch for a sec just to see how that's coming along. Not a whole lot to really appreciate yet, so I'm going to just keep plugging away. Start as pack, which will give me an opportunity to do another color, that orangey-red will be great for this. I like using this texture brush because it allows the colors under it, not just like if I'm going over white, you can see the white paper or page color come through. It also lets whatever colors it's over top shine through those little peppery dots there, those little salty dots or salty specs. For the hair, I don't really need to be super precise, I don't think. I think I'll leave the edge of this brush stroke here to be the edge of his hair because hair tends to be a softer feature anyway. I think I may add in here is his finger here poking around at the map interface here and I may sneak that in here and see I they can get that to look right. Of course, just fill it in with that same pink color. Maybe what we'll do next is add a few details over top. So I'm we're going to go back to that same 4H pencil that I used for the line work of the bear. I remember that I had set the smoothing percentage to around 70 and that allows me to have a bit more of a controlled line quality. I had a few wrinkles here, where that line sharply changes direction. Adding a few wrinkle lines there makes that change a little bit more natural-looking somehow, even if it's very stylized. I'll add some details in the pack here. For this, I will set the layer opacity of this line work to multiply and that will give it a darker tone and let it harmonize, the red below, and it looks more integrated rather than just sitting on top of it. I don't like how that cuts off, I'm just going to bring it down a bit. Now, one thing you might see on a pack are some elastic strings that add tension to the side or other places. So maybe we'll add one more there and one more here, and then for this pocket here, it feels just too much of the red, I'll break it up with some white to pop through. Sometimes it's nice to let some of the page breathe through the image, and so letting some negative space come through is sometimes a great thing. Bring that in a bit more subtly. I can make the brush a little more transparent almost, more of that texture to come through if I just use the side of my pencil rather than the tip. Then on top of that, I'll add more line work. This time, it'll be like stitching. For me, rather than drawing the stitch lines like this, it's easier just to draw the solid line and then use the eraser brush and cut that out like that. While I'm doing my line work here, I'll add some details to the fingers. I'll leave that as is for now. So I'm going to draw his hat in now and I think I'll make his hat green. Then maybe a bit of the side will be solid, and then I'll add some of trucker hat mesh on the back. So here, I'm using a very thin pencil. It's called [inaudible] mechanical pencil, HB. It's about four pixels, so super thin, and I'm just going to make a mesh pattern, freehand it, see how that looks. Actually, I'm going to start again. Maybe if I do them this way, I can just do that whole thing where I duplicate, and then you get a very nice, subtle way of adding repetition into the art. At the same time, it's a little bit faster than doing it all by hand, and of course, I need to get the brim of the hat. So let's just get that. It's going to be over top of the head, and for that, I'll use just a super small version of my texture brush, smoothing to almost 100 percent here just to get a nice, straight brim, and then use an eraser tool just to cut that back a bit. Then I want to add a little bit of texture in the hair, so I'm going to return to the head area there. I'm going to get some red and use a pencil texture brush here, and draw that in, and just some squiggles for hair. I'll set that layer to multiply, and I'm going a little bit outside the lines of the hair. I'm not too worried because I can hit that Command Option G or go to here in the layers and apply a clipping mask, and that's a nice way of adding texture and let it stay within the confines of a shape you've made below. Okay. So maybe the next thing I'll do is start filling in some of the trees and I can circle back to more of the details of the trail runner later on. So of course, the trees are going to be in the background and so I'll put that all in layers beneath the runner. I'll start by making all the shapes together, and just make sure that they're not leaning the wrong way. I tend to make all my illustrations lean all to one side, and often, if I look at an image flipped or in the mirror, I can see how really tilty and leany my illustrations are, and I guess that's just a part of my style, but sometimes, if I can help it, I'll try and straighten things out. I already know how I'm going to do these trees from the bare illust 19. Project | Days 5-26: Filling Out the Set: This is the part where you complete the whole set of illustrations. Your goal, of course, is to have a series of 26 illustrations that you created over it just as many days. You can take more time if you need to, or you can try to squeeze these in fewer days, if you're feeling ambitious. The biggest strength of this project is in how it challenges you to work on one concentrated goal over a longer period of time. You'll not only learn a ton about the style and technique you want to work in, but in how you change and grow over time. No doubt, your last illustration is going to be different from your first, especially if you're learning some new techniques. The goal for this project, at least at first, is not to have a perfectly cohesive set from A to Z. The point, is for you to grow and get better. What you might end up with is a set that evolves over the course of the project. If you want you can always go back to the set and work out the kinks later. When it comes to having a daily project that you share with others, it's not about every illustration coming out perfect and never changing in quality from one to the next, what's more interesting is to look back at the whole set, and see you the artist growing, and evolving, and getting better. A daily project is not a story of how perfectly cohesive your style is, but how you're working it out and learning new things along the way. That's the story others will be inspired by, and that's the story we should want for ourselves. Now, I'm going to be honest here, I've done my palette set, but at the time of recording this class, that's as far as I've gone. While I complete my alphabet of trail running, honestly, I've been wanting to make more running themed illustration, and this class gave me the opportunity to actually do it. Who knows, maybe I'll be so inspired by your own full sets. You'll all kick my butt so hard that I'll feel I have no other choice. Either way, having done the palette, I've already learned a ton about how I approach this topic, and I now have something I can pick away at, when I want to do a more personal project, or create content for Instagram. A multi-day project doesn't have to happen every day. It can happen as frequently as you can or want. That is perhaps my encouragement to those who feel that 26 is still too much work. I understand, we're busy and life happens. Even if you complete the palette project, you'll be so far ahead in terms of learning new techniques, and working out your style questions. I encourage you to complete the palette at least, and then feel free to leave it at that. But I know that if you do the full 26, there'll be no stopping you. 20. Concluding Remarks!: All right, guys, we did it. We solved all your style problems and now you have a completely unique singular style and you'll never need to worry about your illustration style ever again. That's great. Maybe you still have questions, but I hope your questions are more specific and even that you have more of them because it's not having questions that holds us back, but not knowing the right questions to ask. Hopefully, by going through the lectures, exercises, and project of this class, you will find you are forming more of the right questions to ask and that you're able to push forward and not get stuck so much anymore. Again, my whole purpose for this class is to show you that style is not something you can figure out once and for all, that it's something that you discover over time as you evolve and as it evolves along with you. Whether you're an artist-type illustrator with a very disciplined single style, or designer-type illustrator with a handful of styles at your disposal, style is a tool that you can use to help you in your work. Style steers you and your clients and not the other way around. You do not have to feel trapped by a style you never felt comfortable in in the first place. Finding your style is all about knowing what inspires you, how to take that inspiration and channel it into your own work in an authentic way. When you do this, it's not a matter of which style is right for you, but about what ways of working work best for you and what gives you joy and experiencing growth and transformation along the way. As you work on your exercises and projects, please share it on the class project page. The best way to get feedback from me and from others is by sharing it here with the rest of the class. I love seeing your projects so much. I know this is one of the biggest and most ambitious projects yet and I thank you so much for your time and engagement here. As always, when you share on Instagram, please be sure to use the hashtag, #thestyleclassillustration. I love seeing your work out in the wild, and this is the best way for me to discover it outside of Skillshare. Guys, this class has been a doozy to put together, but it's been such a joy to teach. Thank you so much for taking the class and for your support as I put it together. I just want to say there was a moment as I was writing this class when I doubted this class was going to come together, and so many of you sent me words of encouragement and it's because of your support that I was able to keep going, so thank you. I can't wait to see what you make for the class, and how it helps you in your own work. Thanks again. I'll see you in the next class. 21. Go Deeper with a 1-on-1 Session: Hey, just one last thing. If you enjoyed this class and you'd like to get to the next level in your creative journey. I'm pleased to announce that I offer one on one coaching sessions in collaboration with Skillshare. These are 1 hour direct video calls with me where you can get more customized personal support in the areas you need most, including portfolio reviews and illustration critiques, industry and career advice, personalized tutorials and of course, direct personal support with any of my classes, including this one, sessions cost $130 or $105 if you're a Patrin supporter and only $80 if you're a student at a qualifying college or university. Now I know that this is no small investment, so I'd like to give you a sense of the value I bring to those who give these one on one sessions a chance. The number one thing that my clients say about their sessions is that I come prepared, I give you my full attention and that my questions and insights are very personalized to your unique situation. In one review, Daniel S. Wrote, Tom prepared very well for our session. He asked very good questions, he was very curious, and I felt it was a very personalized session. Of course, at the end of your session, I work with you to create concrete, actionable next steps to take in your journey to book your session. Find the booking link in my skillshare profile page or you can visit Tom slash coaching. I open up just eight coaching spots per month, so please don't delay book yours today. I look forward to meeting you soon.