These illustrations primarily come from a school (SCAD) project from my retail illustration class. I created a 12-illustration planner featuring inspiring places in France. I tried to find the most inspirational locations and I wanted to use them to inspire daily living that kept beauty in mind.
The idea came from the desire to travel the world and to make a planner that inspires travel and pursuits. The style was one I had just began developing the quarter before in my very first digital illustration class. My professor (Mike Lowery) at SCAD had been encouraging me to develop the style I had started through experimenting in Photoshop. It was developing images through building with shapes. As I explored this style more and more, I began realizing that for the first time I was having fun with my work – sometimes a difficult thing to do in a design school, as fun as it sounds. As I showed it to others, they would describe it as digital impressionism for it’s light, vibrant colors, and un-finished look. I chose to use this project to develop this process and see how it could apply to various places.
I primarily use Adobe Illustrator, with the Wacom tablet and stylus. At a SCAD Career Fair, a surface design company rep suggested using Illustrator because the files are scalable to any size, as they are vector-based, where Photoshop pixel-based software. The ultimate decision to use Illustrator for the majority of my work is primarily to have sustainable design that can be used on anything.
In this project, I primarily used the pencil and brush tools to create and fill shapes. When I start a new project, I like to create a document with the same number of art boards as illustrations. Since this was a planner, I had 14 art boards – one for each design, and one each for the covers. My typical illustration process starts with idea-generation, where I make lists, do rough sketches. After I decide on an idea, I develop composition based on the end result. Then, I refine the sketches a bit making thumbnails to the scale of the space the illustration. I then upload sketches to Illustrator to use as a guideline. For this project, I started with using the pencil tool because it was the closest thing in Illustrator to using the lasso tool in Photoshop. Much of the time now, I will just start the design inside Illustrator (sometimes without a preliminary sketch) using the brush & bucket tool to make and fill shapes. I build up the composition from the background to foreground, sampling colors from photo references. When the colors are too dark or don’t represent the feel of the project, I will insert my own colors from my understanding of color harmonies. I usually do not use the pen tool because I like the look of the looser brush work. The shapes are made from looking at the different spaces of dark and light, which develops form – each shape will typically represent a different value.
I first submitted this project with hand-drawn type that I developed by loosely drawing over a script font. The most recent versions, I have used my own hand-writing using the brush tool.
People really enjoy this project. These are some of my most successful illustrations. People have said it reminds them of digital Impressionism and mosaics. I also learned that I really love working in this style. Additionally, some of the feedback from others has been to continue to develop the style using various textures and brushes in Photoshop after the frame of the illustration is first developed.
Exploration in this style really helped me to branch out from the typically-accepted form of illustration primarily in Photoshop – while exploring, I really found a visual expression that represented my quirky, bouncy, yet deep personality better. I encourage all creatives to continue to explore the forms of design you enjoy the most and keep experimenting to find your own unique way of expressing ideas.