I’ve always liked pop art. And you can see some Roy Lichtenstein influenced enjoyment of halftone patterns used in illustrator in one of the previous posts here at Design Reviews. This post about pop art though is a bit of an accident. I wanted to create a logo originally, for a cafe. As everyone knows a logo should only contain very simple, minimal art or graphic symbols. It’s also best to make it work in single color or posterised. Pop art is often low in colour and detail so it can be a good inspiration for shapes in creating logotypes with the illustrator pen tool.
I wanted a great cup symbol or shape within my logo so I thought I’d take a look around the web for some simple graphical representations of cups. Looking at these I thought I would spot some shapes to complement the letter forms in the logo. But I didn’t really. I did come across a great resource site though.
Pop Art Machine is the place, I’d never been to this site before. To quote the site’s description “…collects, curates and creates pop art. Our focus is painting and printmaking using public image sources as inspiration. Here you will find over one million free source images and finished pop art posters & prints.”
Sounds good and it is good. The image on the left below is my interpretation of one of the cup images on the site. Using a not too far removed technique I drew the image on the right from an actual photograph. The technique I’m talking about it that once you’ve drawn a clear crisp precise vector shape to your liking you then use the pencil tool to ‘lasso’ the shape roughly. Then you make it the same color as the surface, changed with the HSL (Hue, Saturation, Lightness) sliders in lightness/darkness only. Also on the cup on the right I sliced up the saucer with Beziers and the ‘divide objects below’ command. Of course anyone who’s used illustrator knows I’ve finished it off by using one of the ink brushes for the strokes around the shapes. It’s quite pleasing to the eye but would only work as a simple icon sized graphic I think.
Above is the result of this work and inspiration. The illustrator source file is here for anyone to download and use as they wish. The logo didn’t really work though…
Inside the book starts with an interview of Henning Wagenbreth, Artists/Educator of the year, who appears to be sitting in his back garden on a deck chair wearing a beach towel. I haven’t read it because I got the book for the pictures! The book has section of illustration in the following categories; advertising, animation, books, editorial, institutional, self promotion, sequential, 3D and unpublished. Finally there is a section of student submissions.
It’s all great stuff, nicely printed on decent paper and inspirational, sometimes. There is such a massive range of techniques and styles on show in the book and it’s all quite new so it’s a good indicator of up and coming or current fashionable illustration types. Next time I find myself with a blank document and a blank mind I’ll be dipping into this book for some kind of inspiration. I bought this at ‘Borders’ but you can probably get it lots of places; UK people can get it at Central Books. If you know where to get it on-line feel free to post a link!
To commemorate the inauguration of the new president, Design Reviews has produced a special edition T-shirt with the bloke’s face on it. We probably should have done this a few months ago when people were making loads of money from Obamamania, but we clearly aren’t entrepreneurs here, we are designers & reviewers.
The quality of the design is only matched by the quality of the material! The shirt is made of 100% certified combed organic cotton, with twin needle stitching at the neck, sleeves and hem. AND it’s not produced in a sweat shop in a third world country either.
The design was lovingly created with a paid for commercial full copy of Adobe Illustrator, thereby keeping workers in the USA in employment. The fetching background Obama was realised with the help of the wonderful little program I have reviewed previously, Raster.
These shirts are a limited edition with no more than 500 being produced. One shirt costs 25UKP or 35USD, go to our merchandise page and order lots NOW!
I recently took a vacation in Tunisia, over Christmas actually. There were many beautiful sights to see, most of them belonging to mother nature. What caught me eye though, wandering around the town of Hammamet, in contrast to the bright white walls in the illuminating sun were the brightly coloured arched doors. By far, blue doors were the favourite of the people it seems.
What an inspirational image on which to base some pop art or arches based illustration using your favourite graphics package. I’m working on some imagery based upon the above, but I’m not sure if it’s best to concentrate on just one door, they’re all so interesting!
The Day the Earth Stood Still, 1951 & 2008. What a great film with 1951 version was (is), and what a great soundtrack. I’ve not got around to seeing the 2008 version, will probably wait until it’s on TV. Big problem – it’s got Kanue in it, but the front page review on imdb says his wooden acting ‘style’ suits the alien persona of Klaatu. Also the trailer is uninspiring.
What has that got to do with Design Reviews? Well the huge robot Gort is a very cool robot design and I was sidetracked last night while designing a logo to do a version of Gort in Adobe Illustrator. I think it’s pretty nice and you can see it below.
Also out of huge generosity and Christmas spirit I have uploaded some ‘Gort wallpaper’ for your desktop. It’s available in lots of sizes to match your screen 1024×768, 1280×800, 1280×960, 1280×1024 and a big one at 1365×1024. Also even more incredibly I’ve uploaded the Adobe Illustrator (v8 for compatibility) file for you to download, to see how it’s drawn or so you can modify it, such as move the ‘klaatu barada nikto’ text around to suit your own desktop. Please if you do anything like that write a little comment on my page, or DIGG it or something!
My previous article about Lightscribe has proved very popular, so here is an update with more information about the real practical use of Lightscribe labeling technology. In this test I’ve looked at the printing of fine detail (lines) at various angles (star shapes) and printed a grayscale test using swatches of gray from 10% to 100% in 10% increments. What more do you need? Let’s get a picture onto the stage and have a look at what results we have…
There you can see the result of the test. As it says, these are 96dpi images that should be on your screen at approximately life size for most people, except perhaps netbook users. If you are very interested in the quality and want a close up look of the print source file (300dpi TIF) and a scan of the disc done at 300dpi, then click the obvious links in this sentence!
What does it all mean? Looking at the picture above gives you a thousand words of meaning! But I must tell you how I created the source image and Lightscribed it so you know that it is a valid and useful test. I created the lines and shades test in Adobe Illustrator, obviously as vector/postscript data. The lines weights are measured in ‘points’ rather than something more commonplace like millimetres, just out of tradition, just as many programs use ‘points’ for type size nearly everyone is familiar with. The file set up as a 12cm square and I exported a greyscale TIF at 300dpi. This TIF was placed in the Lightscribe labelling program with no scaling/stretching applied, set to just crop off any bits that went over the edges. The disc image was burned using ‘Best’ mode.
The greyscale (or grayscale) test is very useful for getting images ready for print to Lightscribe. It maps the colours you see on screen, and would expect on paper if you printed to a decent postscript printer using the source greyscale or CMYK file in Illustrator, to what you get on the disc. I’d say the dynamic range from 0% to 100% in your graphics program is compressed to approximately 25% to 75%. The 0.5pt lines are printed very well but the 0.25pt lines show a bit of break up so I would use a minimum line width of 0.4pt on future Lightscribe disc projects. Also I’m quite pleased that although the tonal range is quite compressed the shades are quite distinct between every 10%, especially at the lighter end of the scale.
What do you think? Be my guest and post a comment.
Do you use Adobe Illustrator for all your vector artwork? I must say that I do, but I don’t always start by using Adobe Illustrator, nor Adobe anything at all.
Have you ever heard of or tried Serif Drawplus? Don’t worry, you can get a couple of earlier than current versions for FREE. But why would you look at it if you Adobe Illustrator on your machine? There are a number of reasons but the biggest reason for me is in roughing out an idea, putting your first ideas onto the screen. DrawPlus can do this very very quickly because of the number of basic shapes in it’s fly-out menu, and then also because these basic ‘primitives’ are intuitively customisable using the ‘node’ editing method. These aren’t like regular vector nodes at all (though you can edit in that way too). Just check out the screen cam video below to see how shapes are created and modified. Many of these shapes would take many many stages to make in Illustrator using the transform and pathfinder tools…
Now you can get these versions of Drawplus for FREE v4. and v6. v4 is free on the website and v6 is very frequently included on Magazine cover CDs here in the UK.
Other advantages of Serif DrawPlus; font selection/preview, colour schemes, gradient types & presets, interactive fill, transparency & perspective tools.
Then why choose Illustrator at all? For me, compared to these free versions of DrawPlus, Illustrator has;
- Dependable/predictable output files. I’ve worked in the printing industry for years and no-glitch postscript output is a must, Illustrator has always proved to be most compliant/reliable.
- Pantone colours. And correctly producing one or two colour and spot colour artwork.
- Accuracy. (and the smart guides)
- I like the pen tool better (long-term experience).
- Other tools not available in DrawPlus; scatter brushes, symbol sprayer, plugin filters
Looking at things another way; For me Illustrator is the best but that doesn’t mean other tools are not useful. A new art program can provide a little bit of inspiration in itself. In music it’s the same: So I have a selection of guitars! Specifically I have two electrics and two acoustics. All of them are great in their own way. (Les Paul, Strat, Acoustic & Spanish style). Picking up one or another gets your fingers working in a different way and, with the electric, using the amplifier in a different way.
If I can get my hands on a newer or the newest version I will be updating this blog with a review. The newest version at the time of writing is Serif DrawPlus X2. DrawPlus X2 from Serif, the vector-drawing and graphics software that puts the power of a professional design studio on your PC
Have you tried DrawPlus, what do you think? Leave a comment or two.
The song ‘Russian Skidoo’ has been recorded since summer 2005, now I’ve only just got around to making the CD cover for it. I drew all the trees and snow textures on a background layer in Illustrator. Also in separate layers I drew the guy and the skidoo. That look a while, balancing the amount of detail to be sketched with what I wanted the finished article to be like.
Illustrating the shapes of the skidoo was no problem but it took three revisions to draw the helmet! The picture I was looking at had a guy with lots and lots of stickers on the helmet and I got too involved working close up and made something far too detailed, twice. This picture is of a guy speeding through the night in a snow storm so it’s not necessary at all to have that detail. Then when I finished I fired up Photoshop and used a combination of the motion blur and the wind tools. The snow wasn’t so tricky, inserting a new layer in Photoshop using the noise filter and distort filters to make it wavy, then altering the opacity of that layer.
I’m quite happy with the result, from the ingredients I started with. If I were to do it again I would focus on a detail of the skidoo, coming almost straight towards the viewer, perhaps looking like it’s about to run into the camera. Could do that for the back cover though… If it’s better it can be swapped with the front image! Sound clip here; The Ebbs (UK) – Russian Skidoo.
The streets of Taiwan are teeming with businesses, it’s very rare to see a residential only area. Commonly the houses have 3 or 4 floors with the ground floor used as some kind of shop, all the shops are open to at least 10pm. In quieter cities you might go in to a store and the family is there watching TV or eating so you feel intrusive.
Anyway all these shops have many kinds of logos, some don’t, they just have some Chinese writing. Last week on my way to Taichung City (pop. 1,064,440) I shot these logos with my phone-cam, an old Sony K800i. Partly because of my inspiration from LogoDesignLove and partly because some of the logos are cool, stylish or funny. Take a look below, 15 logos in 15 minutes…
Have you every ventured into Pants Kingdom or La Fatte? Everyone must recognise Domino’s Pizza. Now I wish I’d spent more time taking some more/better shots.