If you aren’t familiar with cartoonist Tom Richmond, make yourself familiar. This guy’s work is absolutely amazing. Very much in the style of Mort Drucker from MAD Magazine — only taken to the extreme. Not only is his cartooning & caricature style excellent, but his color work is also phenomenal. Tom graciously has taken the time to outline exactly how he digitally colors his artwork in Photoshop in a juicily-detailed three-post tutorial/how-to series on his cartooning blog.
Ever need to temporarily reference another document while working on something – this may be an image, or instructions, or a PDF file. Many times you want it floating right on top of your current document so you can refer to it while you are working, and not have to switch back and forth between applications.
I do this a lot when working in Illustrator, especially working from reference images, but also the occasional email message or PDF file sent by a client.
Primary, secondary, tertiary, complimentary, analagous, brightness, hue, value, saturation, tints, shades… do these words mean anything to you? They should.
A post by cartoonist Matt Glover points out ColorFAQ – very basic web guide to color theory. It got me poking around on the internet for some other sites with some more depth on the subject. Sometimes I forget how much I use color theory every single day, it’s just something that sometimes goes on autopilot and is an easy topic to forget to recommend to others.
I touched on the awesomeness of using multiple pencil grades in a previous post on essential cartoonist tools before, but there’s a great overview specifically on pencil grades by cartoonist Matt Glover. There’s some decent additional pencil grade classification information over at Wikipedia as well.
Find out what those cryptic “2B”, “HB”, “6H” and the rest really mean. Knowing the difference, having a full set of pencils with all the grades in the range is a must. This is the way to lay down very thick, dark blacks in your drawings as well as fine, light grays. It’s all in the blackness and hardness my friends.
Here’s a quick tip for you Mac OS X users out there: you can move any window behind the currently active window (also known as the window that has “focus”) without activating it/bringing it to the front.
This one’s real simple: hold down the Command (Apple) key, and then click on the background window’s title bar area (as you normally would) and voilÃ – you’re moving the window in the background. You can even grab the scroll bar and move it if you have access to it.
The excellent Illustrator blog BittBox has a nice Adobe Illustrator Layer Mask tip/walkthough on how to use this highly useful, productivity-enhancing (and fairly obscure) feature of Illustrator CS and higher.
Layer Masks are basically clipping masks that apply to the entire layer (Layer masks need to be sub-layers, and the top-most one at that). The best feature is that they can be locked, and they are not tied to one specific object, or cause an entire group of unrelated objects to become “grouped” as they are when applying a clipping mask to them. This allows you to work normally with all the other objects on other sub-layers while still getting that clipping mask effect.
Head on over to BittBox and read the full post: Improve Your Illustrator Workflow with Layer Masking
Here’s a cool little idea from the geniuses at CreativeTechs.com: “cheatsheets” for Adobe software that are designed to print on a 3×5 index card, complete with space reserved to punch holes for a binder. Designed with the GTD/Hipster PDA crowd in mind. And they’re free!
This link is to the PDF cheatsheet for the Adobe pen tool, since most (or all) of it’s features work the same across the Creative Suite. A real cool visual reference guide, and just one in a series of cheatsheets for Adobe apps as well as other computer and Mac related info that you just sometimes need at your fingertips.
Looks like they are just starting out with these, so be sure to subcribe to the RSS feed and collect ’em all!
Still using that pencil you found in the couch and an old dictionary as a drawing board? Don’t feel like the biggest computer wiz when it comes to graphics software? There are plenty of inexpensive tools out there that will boost your productivity and enjoyment level when drawing, sketching or just doodling. And you don’t have to spend a ton of money to expand your tool kit in ways that are sure to make your life much easier, giving you more time to draw.
So I was digging around in Illustrator’s Keyboard Shortcut preferences, and discovered some interesting commands available that I was totally unaware of, as well as some commands I had been wishing were available.
Some of these are my own fault for not exploring Illustrator’s menus properly, but others are just locked away in limbo, hidden from all but us intrepid (and geeky) explorers. And some of the commands are available, but with no default keyboard shortcut assigned to them, but they are available for you to add your own.
These are sure to be productivity boosters once you get the muscle-memory flowing for them. I know just coming back here to finish up this post after working in Illustrator I had already forgotten most of these. It’s weird how you get used to working within the limitations of the software even when you know a better way. I am just now getting used to using my fancy-schmancy new “Zoom to Selection” Illustrator plugin after having it installed for over a month and using Illustrator just about every day since then.