Nightscapes Quick Guide | Skillshare Projects

Ian Norman

Photographer / Creator of Lonely Speck



Nightscapes Quick Guide

I have a little bit of past Illustrator experience, particularly from converting my photographs or photoshop designs into vector art for screen printing or other media that needed vector art instead of pixels. I always thought I was mildy proficient in Illustrator but I was pleasantly surprised by Brad's course, even after the first Project Unit. He focused a lot on the "easy ways" to do things and it's been a huge help in how comfortable I am using the program. 

I also teach a Skillshare class called Nightscapes: Landscape Astrophotography. One of the first pieces of feedback that I got from a student about the class was to make a printable handout that summarized all the camera settings and tips from the class. I wanted to make the guide easy to follow, graphical and have attractive illustrations. I figured I would use the lessons in Brad's course to create the final product. So I'm straying a bit from the project guide by not re-illustrating an advertisement. Instead, I'm re-illustrating my hand drawings for the Nightscapes guide. 

The first part of the guide called for an illustration of a "dark location at night" so this is what I came up with by hand:

After pulling it into illustrator, I almost exclusively used the pen tool to make the image, although, after watching more of Brad's videos realized that the blob brush tool would have been pretty helpful for the Milky Way. 

This was one of six different illustrations in a list of "what you need" to make photographs of the Milky Way. I used the same method of hand drawing (sometimes on napkins), then photographing the drawing with my phone, placing the photo into illustrator and then re-illustrating to get the final results. 

Here are some of the other items in the list with hand and digital versions:

Tripod Sketch:

Illustrator Tripod:

Headlamp Sketch:

Illustrator Headlamp:

And finally, all six items together:

Everything so far is relatively simple with only solid colors and simple shapes. Almost all of this was done based on the lessons in the first two Units of the class. I haven't yet decided if I want to use any advanced textures, gradients or patterns. 

I also made some more text heavy pages for the guide like this exposure guide for instance: 

And finally, I needed some sort of cover/title page for the guide so I made a modification of my first dark night illustration and added an an ancient bristlecone pine tree to the photo as a subject. 

Cover Page Sketch:

Illustrator Cover Page: 

I still haven't jumped into the textures and gradients portion of the class but I hope to potentially make a version 2.0 of these illustrations that have a little more refinement and detail. Overall, I'm pretty happy with what I have learned in the illustrator class and I'm glad that I was able to use it for my own Skillshare class. I hope my students enjoy the guide. 

If you're interested in seeing the final result for Edition 1.0, I have if available for download here.


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