Monster Sketch and “Draw Inside”

I’m back with an update on the monster sketch. After I printed out the illustration, and used a pencil to show where I wanted to shade the drawing, I scanned it into Illustrator.

This time, I unlocked the new template layer so I can see where where I placed the shading. I move the template layer to the top. Now I can color the illustration while seeing the template.

Now before, I said I’ve been in Illustrator for a long time. So I’m very excited about a new feature in Illustrator CS 5. It was a long time coming. Before CS 5, clipping masks were a hassle. If you made an object a clipping mask, you would lose your shading. You’d have to reapply the shading and go through a bunch of extra steps to make it look the way you want. That has changed with the “draw inside” option.

Draw modes in Illustrator

You will find them in the bottom of the toolbar. The circle and square icons show what drawing mode you are in. In the picture on the left, the icon shows the normal drawing mode. When you use this, a new shape is placed over all the older shapes. The middle icon shows you can draw behind an object now. Thanks to this feature, you don’t have to keep rearranging shapes if you want something to go behind the other.

But by far, the best feature is the icon on the right.


Draw inside Icon

When you click on it, you can draw inside a shape. This makes it so much easier to make the shading align with the original shape. Make sure you have the shape you want to modify selected before you choose “draw inside.” You know the shape is ready when you see dashed lines in the corners of the shape.

A shape with "Draw Inside" selected

Here is an example of one of the finger shapes in “draw inside” mode. Notice that the inside shading extends beyond the original shape. This allows me to shade the monster much faster.

Next, I’ll add the finishing touches to the illustration.

Monster sketch shading


Monster sketch with shading specs

Next, I print out the sketch and determine where I will place the shading. This is a technique I learned from the illustrator, Von Glitschka. He has a great site called He also has a book called “Vector Basic Training” that is chocked full of great info.

The shading is even more important if I choose not to outline the art. Many times, I outline the details and the outer portion of the art with a black rule. On this one, I want the shading to define the shape. It will also allow me to emphasize the roundness or volume of the figure.

Next, I’ll place this file into Adobe Illustrator and make it a template. Yes, you can have more than one template in Illustrator. I’ll start the shading within the program next.

Placed Monster

This is the third part of my tutorial on how I create an illustration in Adobe Illustrator.

I have placed the file and am ready to start with the pen tool. When I placed the file, I checked the “template” option within the place dialog box. This allows the image to come in dimmed and locked. It treats the image as if  I’m tracing it on a light box.

Many people skip this step and just start drawing in the program. Perhaps that would be fine if I used a Wacom Cintiq or a touch screen to draw, but even then, I would probably draw the image by hand first. This allows me to get a feel for the third dimension when I draw. Yes, my illustration is two dimension and my paper is flat. But what I mean is I want to be able to see the figure as a 3D object. It is easier for me to see how the head fits on the body if I can get a solid drawing together first. I have yet to see how to build the foundation on the computer. But if you’re willing to send a Cintiq my way, I’d be happy to give it a try!

All my computer drawing is done on a Wacom Intuos 3. I’ve had Wacom tablets for the last fifteen years, and I would not part with them. They make drawing easier on the computer, even if I’m using the pen tool. I thank one of my art professors for teaching me how to make a blind contour drawing. At the time, I thought she was nuts. She asked us to look only at the subject we were drawing and not look at the paper. At first, I couldn’t understand how that would work. Of course you have to look at your paper! Her aim was to make us really see what we were drawing. Several years later, it had the added benefit of helping me adjust to drawing on a Wacom tablet while looking at a screen.

If you are having problems using a drawing tablet with your computer, I’d encourage you to try some blind contour drawing.

Now that I have my drawing placed, and my drawing tablet ready, I’ll outline the shapes in Illustrator. See you then.

Monster Sketch Refined

Here’s my refined sketch of the monster. It was necessary to get a more polished sketch before I took it into Adobe Illustrator. While the first sketch was great for the idea. I now needed to build solid shapes.

I wanted the monster to smile. The original had that Bigfoot, deer-in-the-headlights look. Instead of a row of jagged teeth, I though fangs would give him a fighting chance in the wild. I also wanted to show some modeling to the body. The back arm needed to be behind the body. I also needed to make a break between the body and the back leg. The figure is now moving from being a hairy blob to something with structure.

Some of these things are personal preferences. Others are details I want to resolve before I take it into Illustrator. I wanted the arms and legs to be separate just in case I wanted to animate it later. That’s one of the great things about Illustrator is that it works well with Adobe Flash.

Monster sketch

No, it’s not a gigantic sketch this morning. I’m trying something different with my blog. In the coming posts, I’ll take this sketch and bring it to a finished illustration.

This is a doodle out of my November, 2010 sketchbook. Lately, I’ve been documenting my sketches with a program/web service called Evernote. I highly recommend it for anyone who has a lot of notes and are trying to find a way to organize it all. It is a service on a web, but also an application for Windows and the Mac. You can also access if from your iPhone, iPad, Android or other smart phone.

The Mac version has worked very well for me. You can scan or take photos of your handwritten notes and sketchbook pages. If your writing is legible, Evernote will recognize the text and make it searchable.

I liked this sketch because it will complement the vector style I’ve been experimenting with. I’ve noticed my drawing style has changed while I’ve been drawing in Adobe Illustrator. I am paying attention to simpler shapes and how to design an illustration.

I’ve been a designer since college along with an illustrator. But I’ve noticed how the two disciplines are complementing each other. When I was younger, I thought the primary purpose of illustration was to accurately and convincingly portray an object or scene. That’s ironic, considering I’ve always preferred a cartoon style. Cartooning is all about exaggeration. If anybody in the real world looked like a cartoon, they’d stop traffic, and it wouldn’t be because they were drop dead gorgeous!

Now I see that an illustration needs to be designed well just like a well designed book or web page. That’s my epiphany for the day.

Next, I’ll get a more polished sketch together. Stay tuned!