CHALLENGE: The Incredible Cat Man. (And Shinkansen - Bullet Train) | Skillshare Projects

YiRan Carroll

Art Director



CHALLENGE: The Incredible Cat Man. (And Shinkansen - Bullet Train)

October 31, 2013

It took me a while to come up with the concept for Halloween. There are so many things things that I love about the holiday that I couldn't pick. Candy! Monsters! Costumes! More Candy! Parties!

But one autumn night, as I was walking to the 49th St N/Q/R after work, I saw him.

The Cat Man.

Rumors of the cat man are abundant. New Yorkers and tourists speak the tale of a man/cat being who walks the streets of Gotham. The cat does not attempt get down, does not flinch at the sight of a street rat or the sound of a taxi's horn. He just sits, perfectly upright and still, atop the head of the man. It is as if cat and man are of one mind, one determination.

So I knew in an instant, on that October night, that a tribute to New York's very own Incredible Cat Man had to be made. I rushed home and sketched out the Cat Man in a frenzy.

Knowing that the project needed to be done in 3 colors, I looked for pinspiration from screen prints and old movie posters.

I toyed around with composition and different color palettes.

I set up my document so that each color was on its own layer. I set all the colors to Multiply instead of Normal at 100% opacity. I deliberately shifted the elements around to create an overprint effect.

And here is the final product:

Here's to you, Cat Man. Thanks for making our city a little weirder.

Happy Halloween, fellow Skillsharers! May you also see the Incredible Cat Man one day.


Shinkansen (Bullet Train)

Brooklyn is my home, but I've been living in Tokyo for the past month. One of the coolest experiences I've had while I've been here is riding the Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo to Kyoto. While the Shinkansen can travel up to 320 km/h (200 mph), it is a super smooth, quiet and pleasant ride.

For this project, I ultimately decided to do an illustration that depicts my Shinkansen experience.

Before I get into that, I'll share my initial brainstorming process and rough sketches.

Quiet/Loud Word Clouds

I did a free association word cloud for both of the words. I didn't really have a filter at this stage - just wrote down the first thing that came to mind until I filled the page.

I eventually settled on "Quiet," and began sketching. Again, I didn't really have a filter here, just sketched whatever came to mind. Because I have a tendency to use my eraser a lot and try to perfect my sketches, I tried the methods Brad emphasized in his lessons. I mostly used pen, and tried not to get too hung up on each sketch.

Initial Sketches

As you can see, these are pretty all over the place as far as the theme goes. But I became drawn to the sketch in the bottom middle. Here, it's supposed to depict a passenger looking through the window of a Shinkansen, while the landscape is reflected on the exterior of the train.

Final sketch

Because I wanted to employ some of the Illustrator drawing methods that Brad shows us in his lessons, I decided to keep the final sketch fairly loose, since I would only be using it as reference and recreating the elements in Illustrator.

Also, as I was thinking about the composition of this piece, I tweaked the concept and the overall layout to be more about the scenery and less about the person looking out of the window. I think this new sketch still embodies the concept of "Quiet," because the scenery is so serene.

Vectorizing my illustration

Using my loose sketch and google images of objects I wanted to depict, I created simplified vector drawings. Here I reveal my super messy artboard.

Color Palette

I saw some really cool Japanese woodblock prints from the Edo period while I was at an art museum in Tokyo. I liked the idea of basing my color palette off of a historical woodblock print.

I grabbed the below 2 prints from Google images because I thought the color schemes would fit my illustration well.

I put them into Adobe Kuler and picked out these color palettes from the results.

I then experiemented with applying all three of these color palettes to my illustration.

This last version is the one I decided to go with. At this stage I also applied a few patterns over some of the elements, as well as used the Roughen tool on the whole thing.


Here are most of the textures I used over the whole piece.

Final Illustration

After applying patterns in Illustrator, I imported the file into Photoshop and applied shading using the above two textures as brushes. Here is the final result:

I thought that the video lessons from this class really helped me with color. Having the restriction of only 5 to 6 colors to work with made everything feel cohesive. Normally, color is something I really struggle with. Also, using textures and the roughen tool allowed me to create visual interest in relatively simple vector shapes.

Just as a side note, cherry blossoms aren't actually in season right now. I just thought they would be a nice addition to the illustration. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts! Thanks!


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