Honing My Mad Skills
It is the second day of October. Anyone sick of my Halloween related art yet? Well too bad! This is my month and I shall enjoy it to the fullest. In the midst of participating in several spooky art challenges (I’ve over extended myself, but that’s kinda what I do), I am working on beefing up my illustration skill set. I am a big advocate for the idea of continuing to learn new things, so that is what I have been doing. The first thing this month I wanted to learn was how to make my life a little bit easier with Adobe Illustrator. For anyone who has ever even just opened Illustrator, you realize what an intimidating tool it can be. But after watching a few videos on Skillshare (Skillshare, I love you!), I feel way more confident with those functions I have not been using as much as I should have.
Latest Illustration and the Awesome New Skills I Used to Make It
Above is my latest illustration for this month (obviously Halloween inspired). One of the first things I learned in the courses (listed below) is that having a sketch of what you want to create is super helpful. I typically have an idea of what I want in my head but then just create it on the fly. This might have contributed to the feelings of frustration I would have when something did not come out as planned…because I didn’t take the time to actually PLAN. So this time around, I made a sketch in my hand iPad and then airdropped it to my computer. Once I imported it into Illustrator, I had a blueprint for what I wanted to make and it did make my life a lot easier.
As you can see, I was able to stick very much to my original sketch. So one of the things I learned – or rather re-learend – was the Shape Building Tool. I used it before but then kind of just forgot about it? I think because I would normally work with the pathfinder and shape modes. But I now am besties with the shape builder tool. I used this particular tool to make the label and clouds you see in the illustration. Now this doesn’t mean I did not use the pathfinder tool. I did. But I relied on it less that I normally would have. Even though, it’s still handy to know what the different modes mean.
Next up was becoming more acquainted with the pen tool. Up until a week ago, I hated this tool. HATED IT. I used it, but it was only begrudgingly when it seemed like nothing else would work. After watching the classes below, we are now on speaking terms again and I used the pen tool to make the skull and “magic cure” typography. Oh, and the stars. One of the things that helped was learning more about the anchor point tool, which honestly I really knew nothing about. I use the direct selection tool a lot, but the anchor point tool just helped make things look less vector-ish if you know what I mean. I used that tool to make some of the lines in the stars bulge out a little, giving them more of that hand drawn feel I love.
And finally, the good old pencil tool. Here is something else I knew about but never used because I would just have illustrator trace all of my scans to get what I needed. But honestly, I like this little tool. And I will say that having Astute Graphics vector scribe plugin does make this tool less wonky. It cleans up stray anchor points quite nicely. And I am not making a pitch for Astute Graphics here and I get zero $$ for saying this, but I swear there stuff if worth every penny. But the pencil tool was create the dots, swirls, “bone daddy” text, and the femur bones.
There ya have it. I feel like I have a new appreciation for what all this program can do. I doubt I will ever know everything there is to know about Illustrator, and I am a little bit embarrassed to say that I didn’t know as much about the tools above as someone who has used Illustrator for years should have, but hey. That’s life. We tend to stick with what we know. If you are looking for some quick and easy Illustrator tutorials, check out the links below! I am not affiliated with Skillshare in any way besides being a paying customer.
Skillshare Videos To Check Out
Illustrator Basics: The Shape Builder Tool – This class is the first in a new Illustrator Basics series and covers how to combine, extract, and trim shapes all with the single, powerful shape builder tool! Your Illustrator workflow will never be the same, kiss the various and often confusing pathfinder functions goodbye.
Illustrator Basics: The Pen & Pencil Tools – Whether your shapes are complex and controlled, or simple and free-form, the pen and pencil tool have you covered. Used in combination with various supporting tools like the direct selection tool, the anchor point tool, the smooth tool, and others, means no more frustration with trying to achieve the shapes you want. Say goodbye to wonky curves and novice looking illustrations!
Vector Illustration: Drawing with the Pen Tool – Turn your drawings into clean and colorful vectors! Join illustrator Scott Martin and learn how to use the Pen Tool to transform your sketches into crisp and scalable vector images in Illustrator.
Adobe Illustrator: Give the Pen Tool a Day Off – The Pen Tool is one of the most powerful components to any vector editing software—and Adobe Illustrator is no exception. Sometimes however, its use can be quite time-consuming. That’s where this class comes in.