Hi Andrew! You've probably already answered this before but what do you teach in your classes? And what was the process like getting a teaching job in art? ~Adam
Hello good sir.
I don’t believe I have answered this in a public forum. So I teach the illustrative component of the graphic design program at Conestoga College in Kitchener, Ontario.
In first year we focus on the fundamentals of image-building. We gradually integrate the role of technology (computers and software and such) as we move into second year and by the time the class is in third year they’re knee-deep in looking at styles and the influences with the intent of connecting to certain target audiences.
If I were to boil it down, first year would be the WHY of illustration, second year focuses on the HOW, and third year gets into the WHO.
As for the process of becoming a teacher, I don’t think it’s much different from any other type of job: apply, interview as many times as is required, and present why you’re a good fit for the role.
I’m sure I’m simplifying this waaaaaaaaay too much so feel free to ask anything specific.
Hey, Andrew! I was wondering why you go through the coloring process before breaking your drawing into shapes in "PROCESS POST: STHENO." And, any tablet you recommend? By the way, I REALLY enjoy your work! I think it's witty and neat!
I suppose I do the rough colour blocking first so that I know what shapes to draw in the next stage. If I tried to work through the colour while drawing the individual elements, I’d surely get bogged down with unnecessary details.
So in short, I separate the colour and shape-building stages so that I can more closely focus on them individually. Apparently I’m a terrible multitasker.
As for tablets, I’m currently using a large Intuos 4. I like it well enough but I never use the buttons on the side so I feel like I’m not using it to its fullest.
I’m also looking into transitioning to a tablet monitor and I’m so thoroughly torn between the different brands that I can’t decide. I’ve just been told about a Monoprice option that looks pretty rad.
Anyway, I’ll be sure to follow up if and when I get a monitor. Until then, I really can’t complain about my Intuos.
The RoleModels show at Light Grey Art Lab is well under way and I’m so super excited for my deck to arrive!
In the meantime, here’s a loose breakdown of a few Easter eggs that I dropped into my design of Brother Kolb:
• The bewildered look is fairly straightforward • During the Canadian winters I wear the biggest scarf possible • Super rad Samus Aran shoulder pads for armour • I always take a backpack with me as it’s like a purse on steroids
• My mace is loosely based off of my drawing tool of choice • Cupcake pan as baking makes friends (in RPGs and in real life) • The magical scrolls are picture-based like a graphic novel • I have these weird pants that are great for sporting activities
And that’s about it! I went with a cleric for my class as I’m generally in a supporting role and am not nearly aggressive enough to be something super rad like a warrior or paladin. I’m happy to give more support to the rest of the party through the magic of enthusiasm!
I’m not sure how the game plays yet but I’m hoping everyone will want Brother Kolb in their party for his high optimism and stick legs.
Not all of my sketches end up as close to the final image as this one but everything kinda worked out this time around. I usually work REALLY SMALL at first to ensure the basic composition reads. If my throwaway doodle translates then I scan it, blow it up, and redraw it until I have something like this. And it’s worth noting that I always put pencil on paper first. Some talented souls can swing a sketch right on the computer but I am not so gifted. There’s just something special about graphite on dead trees.
2. PLANNING COLOUR
In my younger days I would think, “Oh hey, I’ll sort out the colour laaaaaaater.” This never worked. Now I’m slightly more reasonable and plan the image before rendering. I rarely get it all settled on the first try but every so often I’ll luck out. You’ll notice that this image did change slightly whilst drawing and I think that sort of flexibility is important.
3. MAKING BASIC SHAPES
I don’t think my process is earth-shatteringly unique but this next step might be less common? Heck, I don’t know. If you use Photoshop in this manner then let me know. Oh yeah! So the previous step was done in Photoshop with the sketch on top (set to Multiply) and then colouring underneath.
So I spent a lot of time with Illustrator before getting a tablet. I think this, combined with my fear of creating something that I cannot change, has lead me to what might be a silly process; I draw each shape on a separate layer. Or rather I render any two objects that touch (visually) on separate layers in the file. The pink eyes are on a layer above the head, which is above the dark green snakes, and so on. I’ll go on to explain why in a minute.
4. SHADING THOSE SHAPES
Now that we have all of the core shapes drawn and on separate layers, we can start to shade and add texture. Part of the reason why I like all the shapes on separate layers is due to the ability to lock transparent pixels (clicking on the little checkerboard on the layers palette does this…Google it). By locking the pixels I can now paint freely within the confines of the shape I’ve drawn.
I systematically go through the shapes and alter them as needed.
In illustrating this way for a while I’ve found I’m fairly comfortable putting multiple objects (that don’t touch) on the same layer to save space in the document. That way I can have 10-20 layers instead of a single layer for each individual shape. As to how I decide what to separate, it really depends on where I want clean breaks or if there is meant to be a major shift (in the lighting, texture, and so on).
It’s a lot of this so below is a quick GIF that goes through this step.
And that’s the bulk of the work. The brushes I use differ based on the texture and intent of the piece but even the basic shading of some of my simpler images are completed in this manner.
With all of the main shading done I go back and, on a separate layer above all others, add the little lines and spots that really tie the room together. The GIF from step 4 actually shows the final image but we won’t dwell on that.
While this GIF goes through everything at rapid speed, I would say the bulk of the work goes into stage 4. Though sometimes I spend a lot of time planning out the colour.
And that’s pretty much it! Of course each image is unique but this process pops up in a lot of my work. Sketching almost always comes first and now I plan out the colour before moving on to shape-making and adding the shading or texture. Then after a few details at the end it’s pretty much done!
I hope this helps. If there are any gaps that you’d like filled then feel free to ask.