Wood Grain Textures: How to Illustrate & Digitize Your Own | Carrie Hendrix | Skillshare

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Wood Grain Textures: How to Illustrate & Digitize Your Own

teacher avatar Carrie Hendrix, Graphic artist and illustrator

Watch this class and thousands more

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

Watch this class and thousands more

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

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.



    • 3.

      Drawing Techniques Part 1


    • 4.

      Drawing Techniques Part 2


    • 5.

      How To Scan


    • 6.

      Digitize Your Artwork


    • 7.

      Adding Color


    • 8.



    • 9.

      Additional Effects


    • 10.



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About This Class

Create your own wood grain texture to use as a background for stationery, art prints and more!

In this class, we will dive into the step-by-step process of creating wood textures from pen and paper to computer. You will learn how to:

  • Draw a wood texture on paper using pen and ink
  • Convert your hand-drawn artwork into a digital format
  • Vectorize, recolor and resize your texture for multiple uses

This class is a fun exercise for beginners and experienced designers alike who are looking to add this technique to their skillset.

Material Needed:

  • Drawing Paper (100 - 120 lb and acid-free is preferable)
  • Pens and/or Fine Liners
  • Scanner and Computer
  • Adobe Illustrator (7-day free trial available here)*
  • Adobe Photoshop (Optional: 7-day free trail available here)*

*In the videos, I mention a free 30-day trial for Adobe CC, but apparently it is now a 7-day trial.

Feel free to reach out with any questions along the way. I look forward to seeing what everyone creates! 

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Meet Your Teacher

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Carrie Hendrix

Graphic artist and illustrator

Level: All Levels

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1. Introduction: Hi everyone, welcome to my class on how to illustrate and digitalize your own wood grain texture. My name is Carrie and I've been a full-time artist since 2011 with a focus in stationary design and illustration. I stumbled upon this skill a few years ago when friends of mine were getting married and they requested a custom-designed invitation. Their theme was rustic, and I had envisioned this wood grain texture in the background on the invitations. I sat down and I drew it in my sketchbook with pen and ink, and then I used that drawing to digitalize it and create both a light and a dark wood texture that I incorporated into their invitation. These are the skills that I want to share with you today. In this class, we'll cover how to draw the original texture on paper, scan it, and then transform it digitally. This will include detailed steps on how to clean up your artwork in Adobe Illustrator, color it and resize it for multiple purposes. By the end of this class, you should have a unique final texture that you can incorporate into your own designs. That can be stationary designs such as shower imitation and art prints, phone case cover and a lot more. If you'd like to add wood grain textures to your skill set, please join me in the next video and we'll get started. 2. Materials: For the illustration part, really, all you need is a pen and a piece of paper. The first time that I did it, I just drew it right in my sketchbook. This is on a 100 gram paper that's about 60 pound cover, not as super thick paper at all. This worked just fine. For this class I'm going to try it on a little bit thicker paper. This is 200 gram makes media paper with a nice smooth surface. That is pretty important. I do recommend using a paper with a smooth surface as this will reduce the time spent editing in Illustrator later on. I've just used little masking tape here to adhere it to my clipboard. But really either option will work. For the paints are using black pigment ink in a variety of sizes. For example, I have here 1.0 and a 0.7. I'm a really big fan of the art line series. I'm doing it this way because I know that I'll be adjusting the colors later on in Illustrator. However, already at this stage, you're free to use a different mediums. For example, you could use color pencils or markers, colored inks, or even watercolor. Whatever you fancy, feel free to give that a try and you can incorporate the same techniques that we're going to cover in this class to create your own unique texture. In order to get our drawing from paper to the computer, you're going to need a few additional materials, including a high-resolution scanner. I'm using an A4 size Canon scanner. An A4 is the size of paper that I'll be drawing on, and that's roughly a letter page. You'll also need access to Adobe Illustrator. If you don't have Adobe Illustrator, don' worry, I'll provide a link in the description so you can download a free 30-day trial. Let's get started. Join me in the next video, and we'll cover the drawing techniques. 3. Drawing Techniques Part 1: The drawing technique for the wood texture is fairly simple. I'm just going to start with my drawing pen in the top left corner and I'm going to draw a line all the way down to the bottom of the page. Don't worry about this being a perfectly straight line. It should have a little bit of movement to it but be careful not to be too wavy as that will affect your texture. Now, I'm just making a second line right next to it and I'm going to repeat this a few times, and again, they don't have to be perfect. It's better if there's a little bit of variation in there and you can repeat this as much as you want for your texture. Now, at a certain point, I want to add a little variation. I'm going to start the line and then I'm going to bring it back up like this. Now, I'm going to follow the same pattern and fill in this space, like so. Then I think I want to make this a dark areas, so I'm just going to color this in. Now, here you can use different sized pens if you want to or you can just fill in the space. That's really up to you. I'm just going to fill this in. Now, again, you don't have to follow the exact thing that I'm doing here. This is just to give you some examples of how to create some variation and you're going to do this throughout the texture. Okay. Now, to fall back in line, I am just going to start again at the top and I'm going to bring the line, right along the edge and I'm going to close that gap like this. Now, I can do the same sort of idea but on the bottom of the page or in the middle of the page. For example, I can create a little variation here as well and follow along the same idea. Again, not really any right or wrong. Just creating some unique shapes. I'm going to fill this one in as well. Maybe for this one I'm going to take the inside part and color that one in, and then I'm just going to continue on. Now again, I could switch and use a thicker pen if I want to to create even more variation in the lines that's up to you. I want most of mine to be fairly similar and fairly close together. That's my personal preference because I think that gives a very nice effect. When I do want a thicker line, I usually just do it with the same pen like this. 4. Drawing Techniques Part 2: Now this is another technique that I really like, I'm going to bring my line down to about right here. Then I'm going to create this big loop around, but I'm going to fill in part of it. A little bit darker, like so. Now again, you could leave all of these shapes unfilled and color them in Adobe Illustrator as well but I do like to have a little bit of definition to start with. I'm just going to follow the same technique and just fill up this space. Maybe I want to make one of these dark as well. There we go. Then I'm just going to continue maybe from here. These in-between areas I'm going to fill up the same way, as I did previously like so. Then choosing certain areas I want to fill in. At this point, you just need to keep going with the same idea, the same technique and here and there, just add in a little variation throughout. For the purposes of this class, I'm going to fast-forward through our work so that you can see the entire process. Good job you guys. If you've made it this far, you should have your page filled up with your texture. The last thing I'm going to do is just go over it with a smaller drawing pen. I'm going to be using a 0.3 and I'm just going to go over a few rough areas to smooth them out. Clean up a few lines here and there, get into the nitty gritty a little bit. At this point, I encourage you to upload a picture of your original drawing in your class project and of course, any process work that you would like to share. In the next video, we're going to cover how to scan your drawing and do some cleanup in Adobe Illustrator. See you then. 5. How To Scan: Now that you've finished your drawing and hopefully uploaded a photo of the original in your class project to share with everyone. You're ready to scan. Most of you are probably familiar with the basics of using a scanner, but I'm just going to run through a few key points here. I'm using a cannon canto scan 5600 F. You will want to put your artwork face down on the glass plate and then close the lid of your scanner, and then get on your computer and go to your scanning software. I'm using MPI navigator. You may be using a different scanner or a different software, and that's okay. The options presented to you should be basically the same. What's important? The document type is important. In my case, I did my artwork with the black ink, black-and-white photo will suffice for me. But let's say you use colored pencils, maybe a color photo will do more applicable for you if you want to retain the colors of your artwork in your scan. Resolution is also really important. It set to 300 DPI. DPI simply means pixels per inch. This is the standard high resolution for print. I know that I will be making my artwork vector when I bring it into Illustrator. Vector simply means that I'm going to turn it into a set of paths instead of pixels, so that I can enlarge it to any size and the edges will stay smooth and they won't be pixelated. That said, this is practical in some situations. For example, with this piece, I find it practical, but if you have an artwork that's got a lot of color in it, it may not be practical to turn it into a vector. In that case, you may want to consider a higher resolution if you plan to enlarge it to a size that's larger than the original. For example, you may want to scan it at 600 DPI. I'm going to leave it at 300 for now, click Okay and scan. It may take a few minutes for the scan to come through. There we go. Now I'm going to save my scan. I'm just going to save it to the desktop for simplicity's sake. I'm going to call it woodgrain scan. I'm going to save it as a JPEG. There are other options, but I recommend saving it as a JPEG. Save, and there you see it's popped up on my desktop. 6. Digitize Your Artwork: Hi guys. Welcome back. Now that we have our high resolution scan, we're going to start creating a digital version of it. Before going into Illustrator, or we're going to do the bulk of our work, I'd like to propose an optional step, which I usually do, and that's to bring our scan into Adobe Photoshop. If you don't have Photoshop on your computer, there's a link in the description to download a free 30 day trial. I'm just going to go here to my scan. Right-click choose ''Open with Adobe Photoshop.'' Now all I'm going to do here is just crop the image to clean up these edges. You can see here that from my original drawing, actually my edges aren't exactly straight. I'm going to choose the crop tool right here. When I do, it selects the entire image by default. I can just use these little tabs, drag it down to take away some of that excess white space and make sure I have some nice straight edges to work with an illustrator. Now I'm going to hit "Enter" and save it. Still as a JPEG, still and the high resolution. Just close that out. Now you'll see if I go here and double click on the image that I have straight edges to work with now. Once that's done, we're going to bring our scan into Illustrator. Right click ''Open with Adobe Illustrator.'' The first thing we're going to do here is adjust my artboard so that it's the same size as my artwork. I can do that under the properties tab, edit artboards. I'm just going to drag it around my image so that it's the same size like this. The next thing I'm going to do is use the image trace option to create a vector. You can access that over here again under the properties tab, this is a shortcut image trace or under object image trace make. Now be sure that you first select your image. We may not see those options. Image trace. When I click on this, it's going to propose a few different presets. For example, I'm going to choose black and white logo because my artwork is an all black and white. But if you have used color and you want to retain those colors, you may want to choose high fidelity photo or one of the color options. Now keep in mind that it will be a little bit heavier when you choose those options so the processing time might be a little bit slower. But regardless, you'll probably save as dialog box pop up that tells you it's going to move slow because it's a heavy image. But in my experience, it doesn't take more than 30 seconds to trace it. Now I'm going to zoom in so you can see the details. I'm going to go back here to image trace and bring up the panel with all the options. Now when you first open it, you might not see the advanced options, but if you just click on this arrow you can see all the options there below. Here, you can change your preset if you want. If you want to explore the difference between the high fidelity and low fidelity photo and the result it gives. For example, I'm pretty pleased with the results so far. I might just make a few changes. If you hover over these options, some little tips will pop up that'll tell you what they do. Basically, I think I'm going to increase the threshold just a bit, maybe to 140. See what that gives. Again, you have to wait a few seconds as it processes. It made all of my lines just a bit thicker and I'm pretty pleased with that result. I think I'm going to keep that. But just play around with these options and figure out what works best for you. One thing that I do find really important is the ignore white option. When I click that, it's just going to remove that white background throughout the drawing so that I'm just going be left with those lines to work with, and that's what I want. After you're happy with it, you can go here and choose "Expand". That's going to give you a vector drawing. Now you can scale it to any size without any loss of quality. Now what we're going to do is zoom in really close to our artwork. You can use the zoom tool over here, but I personally prefer to use the keyboard shortcuts, and that would be space Command and then click to zoom in with your mouse or space Command Alt to zoom out. Let's get in nice and close here. What we're going to do is clean up any stripe points and maybe smooth out some rough lines here and there. To do that, I primarily use one or two tools. The first one, if I click and hold on the Pen tool, you'll see these other options. The first one is the delete anchor point tool. The second one, if I click and hold on the shackle tool here is the smooth tool. Those are the two that I use most often when I'm cleaning up vector work after the image trace. I'm going to select my image and I already see a line here that I'd rather be a little bit smoother. I'm going to click on the ''Smooth tool.'' I'm just going to click and drag over those points to smooth them out a bit. This little extra white space here, I'd like to remove that. I'm going to go to the delete anchor point tool and just click away those points. Go over your artwork and clean it up as you see fit. You can be as nitty-gritty as you want. Just keep in mind that we are zoomed in at 60 percent. A lot of the little changes that you make may not be noticeable once you zoom out. This is a wood texture so it doesn't have to be perfectly smooth or even. Variation is also part of the charm. Do try to stay true to your original drawing and just focus on cleaning up those areas that you've failed didn't translate well on the scan or the image trace. Now that your clean up is done, this is a good time to save your file. Instead of savings over the original scan, I like to keep the original scan and save this as a new document. Let's just leave it as wood grain.ai. As an Illustrator file and I'm just going to leave it on my desktop. Okay. 7. Adding Color: Now, we're going to cover how to add color to your wood texture. To start with, I want to add a block of color to be the background behind this line art. To do that, I'm going to select the rectangle tool and then just click and drag this shape over my artwork and that's going to give me a big block of color, but I want to send it to the back. I'm going to select Object, Arrange, Send to Back. Since they're both black, you can't really see any distinction, for simplicity's sake, I'm just going to go ahead and make that white so you can see both layers. I have my black line art on top and a white background. Before going further with changing the colors, I just want to point out that you can check your document color mode under File document color mode. Now, as you can see, mine set to RGB by default, and RGB is typically used for anything that's web based. This is going to depend a bit on the intended use of your texture. But since I mostly work with printed stationary, I'm going to change my color mode to CMYK. You want to be sure that your color, swatches and color tab panels are front and center, before we get started changing the colors. If you don't see those, you can open them up underneath the window. Color, Color Guide and Swatches here at the bottom. That's going to make things a lot easier. Let's start changing the colors of this texture. I'm first going to change the background color. I'm going to select that and open up my color panel here. This simply means the fill color and stroke color. I'm not concerned about adding a stroke. I just want to change the fill color and I see that it is proposing gray scale by default. If I click here on the File menu, I can change that to CMYK, which I want. Now, I can input the CMYK code if I want to, or I can just go down here and use the eyedropper tool to select a color I want or what I find quite easy as just double-click here and the Color Picker box will pop up. Again. You can input the RGB code or the CMYK code, or you can just click here and drag your mouse around to find the color that you want. For this, I'm going to go with a light brown, nice soft brown color. Something like this maybe. Its a little bit on the peachy side, so I'll maybe just adjust that manually here with the CMYK codes. It's going to change that. Something like this looks good. To change the color of my line art that's sitting on top of this background. I'm going to select it. I'm just going to use the eyedropper tool over here to snag a bit at that same soft brown color. Now, you can see that they're both the same color. But what I'm going to is re-select my line art and go here under the color guide panel. Here you can see various shades and tense that compliment that color. I'm just going to choose one tent, lighter. That's looks pretty good I think the contrast could be a little bit less. Again, I'm going to select my line art and make sure my color mode is in CMYK. I'm just going to play around with these values a little bit, it close that gap and make the contrast a little bit less there or something like that. There are so many possibilities out there, so just play around and find a color combination that you like. I plan to use this as a background on a baby shower invitations. I feel like trying something a little bit different. I think I'm going to make it hot pink. I'm just going to follow the same steps we went over and select my background. I'm going to double-click to bring up the Color Picker and start exploring a little bit here and that's not really the color, I'm going for. I'm just going to adjust some of these values there that looks a lot better. Now, I'm going to select my line art and use the eyedropper tool to snag that same color like we did before. Then go over to the color guide panel, and this time, instead of making it lighter than my background, I'm going to try it a shade darker. That looks all right, but it's a little bit too dark. I am going to adjust those values a little bit. Maybe take down that contrasts, that looks pretty good, but I'm curious what it would look like if I invert those colors and make my background darker again. What I can do is just select all the artwork, both the line art and the background and go over here to my swatches panel. You have the option here to create a new color group. When I click that and call it a Hot Pinks. Now, you can see both of those colors are saved under my swatches panel. I'm just going to select the background and change it to that dark color, and then select my line art and change it to the light color. I'm very happy with that result. I'm going to leave it just like that. I hope you guys are enjoying playing around with all the color combinations. In the next video, we're going to talk about how to resize and save your files. See you then. 8. Resizing: Now let's talk about how to resize and save your files depending on the intended use. Right now my art board is simply sized to match my original illustration. But let's say I want to use this design to create a digital paper, say for scrapbooking purposes. The standard for this, especially if you plan to sell it commercially say in a digital paper pack, is 12 by 12 inches at 300 DPI, or 3600 by 3600 pixels. To get started, I'm just going to zoom out a bit. I'm going to go here under the Properties tab and click "Edit our boards." I'm going to drag on new our board onto the screen. Now I can go here and just manually input 12 by 12 inches. I can give it a name if I want to. Let's call it digital paper. Now what I'm going to do is select my artwork, the line art in the background. I'm going to hold down the Alt key as I click and drag it onto the art board. That's going to make a copy of it. As you can see it doesn't fill up the space completely, but we will remedy that. Lets select the background first. You can go here and change the size of that to 12 by 12. Now I can click and just drag it to line it up to the art board or to be sure I can go here under the aligned tab and make sure that it's selected to align to our board. Then hit these buttons, align it vertically and horizontally so that it's perfectly aligned. Now for the line R, this is a bit tricky. You can in theory just select it and holding down the Shift key to maintain the proportion. Just drag it to fill up the space accordingly. But that's going to leave you with big thick lines and it doesn't really give a beautiful result in my opinion, of course, if that's what you're going for, then go for it. But I generally don't recommend this because you lose a lot of the intricate details. I'm going to undo that, and what I'm going to do is just hold down the Shift key and bring it to the edge here. Then I'm going to hold down the Shift and the Alt key to make a copy of it right next to it. Like this. Now, that looks okay, but if I want to give it a little more variation, what I can do is select the second piece and right-click go to transform. Let's reflect it. Now be sure the preview box is checked here so you can get a preview of what it looks like. I can play around with the options and see what foods and I like that. They can move it a little bit closer if I want to there. Now what I can do is again, I'm going to snag that background, and I'm going to control C make a copy, and then I'm going to paste it in the front, object arrange, I'm be sure to bring it all the way in front of everything. It doesn't have to have a fill at all. Just take that off, and I'm just going to select everything and make a clipping mask. Object, clipping mask make. Now you still had some extra line art over here so you could double-click, you could drag this, and you know, to fill up the space. However you like if there's particular parts of your line art that you like better than others, you could fill up the space accordingly. Now to save the file, just go up under File, Export, Export As, and you're going to want to give it a name, of course, let's call it wood grain underscored digital paper. The location where you want to save it, I'm just going to leave mine on the desktop for now, and the format, and this is typically a JPEG file. In this case I have multiple abort, so I want to be sure to select the correct one and minus on the second art board and then click Export. Now, digital scrapbooking papers are typically in RGB color mode, so I'm going to leave it like that. But in theory here you can also select CMYK if it's necessary. I'm going to leave it as high-quality and be sure my resolution is set to 300 dpi, that's really important, and I'm going to leave it on art optimized and click okay. Creating a digital paper is really useful because it's a large, high resolution file that can always be scaled down if needed for different purposes. But you can also create individual art boards that they exact size that you need them. Let's say I want to use this design as the background in my shower invitation, which will be 5 by 7 inches. I got to follow the same steps, and click edit our board, and I'm going to drag the new art board onto the screen and then resize it to 5 by 7. Now because it's intended for printed stationary, I need to keep in mind that the final version will include a bleed. I can add that bleed already onto my art board here, for example, making it 5.25 by 7.25. But what I usually prefer to do is leave the art board at the trim size, and let's call it shower background, and then add the blade under File and documents setup. Here, for example, I can add the necessary bleed. You can see that by the red line indicated around the art board. Now what I'm going to do is just select everything again from my original art board, going to hold down the Alt key as I click and drag a copy onto the new art board, and again, I'm first going to select the background and I'm going to resize it, including the bleed, and then line that up. Let's line that up to the artboard, and then I'm just going to click and be sure that I'm holding the shift key down to keep those proportions. Again, I can get in and take a close look at how big do I want those lines? How intricate do I want this to be? I could leave it but larger like this, for example, or I can scale it down even more to make it a little bit more intricate. Let's see what that gives, maybe even a tad smaller. You might have to get in really close to see the details, now like that. Now I'm just going to line it up to our board and see what that gives. That's looking good, although I think I liked it better when it was dropped down a bit. Now I'm just going to do the same thing to create a clipping mask. I'm going to select the background. Make a copy of it control-C. Go here to edit, paste in front and then object arrange, bring to the front, make sure it's in front of everything, going to take out that fill color because that's not necessary, and then select everything and make a clipping mask object. Clipping mask, make. At this point I usually work in one of two ways. The first option and perhaps the easiest would be just to start building my shower invitation right in Illustrator. Now that I have my background, I can just add layers of texts over top of it, and of course, any other design elements that I want to add. I think most designers build their stationary in illustrator, but I often work in in-design as well. If I want to bring this into in-design later, I will need to save it as a separate file. You can do that under file, save a copy, let's call it wood grain background, hot pink. Going to leave it on the desktop, and I'm going to change the format to a PDF. I want to be sure that I've selected my art board. Save, and now you're going to have a dialog box with the PDF options pop up and don't be overwhelmed, there's about a million different settings here, but a few basic things you want to pay attention to. I have a preset already made for one-up PDF, and that just means that it's based on a high-quality print that all these settings are for high resolution and that includes the trim marks and the standard 0.125 bleed all around. In this case, I'm just wanting to extract the background. I don't necessarily need those trim marks, so I'm just going to uncheck that box, but I do want to keep my bleed. I'm going to go back to General, and one other thing to consider is the preserved illustrator editing capabilities. I often leave this checked keep in mind that it will make your fall a little bit heavier. But the advantage is that you can always bring that PDF back into Illustrator and make changes to it. For example, changing the colors. I'm going to leave that checked for now and click save PDF. 9. Additional Effects: Now that we've covered a couple different ways to save your files, I just want to share one optional effect that I like to add to my Wood Grain Textures. To do that, I'm just going to minimize our illustrator file and go to my desktop. I'm going to select the first file that we created, and that's the Wood Grain Digital Paper JPEG. I'm going to open that up in Photoshop. Now, as I zoom in, you can see that these lines are a little too smooth. It gives a nice illustrated effect and that's what we're going for. But I just want to add a little variation in there to soften it up a bit. To do that, I'm going to go to Filter and choose Noise, Add Noise. It's proposing 1 percent by default, but that's not going to be enough. When I zoom in, you can see that it doesn't really change a whole lot, so let's try to bump that up to 8 percent. I feel that's a little bit too much. Let's lower that again and try at 5 percent. I think we have a winner. I'm going to zoom in a little bit more at 200 percent. I like that subtle effect that it's giving. I'm just going to hit, Okay. At this point, you could save over this file if you know that you won't be using it and you want to keep these effects. But I often recommend saving it as a separate file so that you have the original that you made in case you have to revert back to it. So I'm just going to click Save As, save it on my desktop and you can name it whatever you want. I'll just call it Digital Paper 2. Again as a JPEG, and again as high resolution file. There you have it. 10. Closing: Thank you for joining me in this class. I hope you've learned a lot, and of course, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out in the Comments Section. Don't forget to upload both the photo of your original drawing and your final wood texture in your class project. I'm really excited to see what everyone comes up with. Be sure to follow me on Skillshare for more fine classes like this one. In fact, you can vote for what you'd like me to cover in my next class. More details about this are in the description below. You're also welcome to follow my work on Instagram @mycrayonsdesign. See you next time.