Man-Tsun was kind enough to contribute an awesome case study of one of his amazing illustration for the Vectips Readers! It’s really great to see the process of other illustrators! Moreover, I think us readers of tutorials are sometimes too focused on individual steps rather than seeing the bigger process of creating an illustration. So read on to get some great insight!
Before the digital age, my work was mostly created by ink on paper, but nowadays everything is computerized. I have shifted to vector art and feel no medium can allow me to create line art with such freedom and fluidity.
Recently, I was briefed to create an illustration featuring one of the famous districts in Hong Kong – Sham Shui Po.
Here are the tools for creating this illustration: Adobe Photoshop CS3, Adobe Illustrator CS3 and a pack of M&M’s, just to keep myself awake…
Before creating the work, I visited the site to capture characteristics of the area. It really helps the concept and composition of the illustration.
Like most illustrators, I start with a quick sketch on Photoshop, just to outline the rough characters and the composition. Further details will be created in Illustrator.
Here comes to the most interesting and time-consuming part to me. Based on the rough sketch, I illustrate the characters in detail. I create very fluid lines by using the Pen tool. Somehow, it looks very Japanese Manga to me, which I like it a lot!
The Paintbrush tool can easily draw any hairstyle, but before working on it, I create a custom brush to draw very thin lines with pointy ends. Once these lines are grouped together and overlapping, the hair will look rich and less chunky.
By now the first character is done. I repeat steps 3 and 4 for the rest of the characters….
Very soon the whole family is ready. Since there are some extra details in the last two steps, I change on the positioning slightly.
In order to fill up the gaps in between characters, I pick a few characters from my other works to squeeze into the layout making the street look packed.
In most of my illustrations, I don’t create detailed backgrounds. To be honest, I just don’t really like working on it…
However, this project is about a famous district, so there is no way I can skip the background. Therefore, based on the reference picture, I put some major features together.
Most of the drawing part is finished and it’s time to start the coloring. I am really addicted to pale colors, however, it looks odd without any gradient and shading on top. Once I apply more layers of shading, it begins to look more comfortable.
This illustration is very much close to finalized. The only two things left are the company names on the signs and the sky.
Now, all the vector work is done. Just before showing this to the client, I jump to Photoshop and apply a very light blur on some random areas, just to give a bit of a illusory touch to it. This is what I usually do before finalizing on must of my works.
Hope this is inspiring to you!