Monday, January 7, 2013

Combining Digital and Traditional Media, Part 1

I hope everyone had a great holiday season!  I have two young sons so there was lots of fun to be had and lots of family to see.  And I hope everyone enjoyed the December doll.  I got some great feedback about it and it might be something I do again.  I think it worked out well.

For Christmas, my very thoughtful husband got me a shiny new printer/scanner.  It's fantastic!  And the best part is that it's wireless so I can print from my Mac in the kitchen, or from my PC in the office, or (supposedly, I haven't tried yet) from any of the other devices around the house.  Today's lesson takes advantage of the new printer.  I want to have a few lessons that show how seamlessly traditional media and digital media can work together.  I find myself doing a lot of computer work and I miss having a paintbrush or pencil in my hand.  Today's lesson is going to take something that computer programs are great at (patterns) and use it on a paper & pencil paper doll.

Materials List:
Adobe Illustrator (or any other program that can be used for seamless patterns)
Paper Doll Template
Masking Tape
Paper, Pencil, Eraser

For my watercolor and colored pencil dolls, I've tended to stay away from patterns.  They're hard to draw so I don't bother.  For my digital dolls, I have patterns all over the place!  Today's lesson is going to open up the possibility of consistent patterns using traditional media.

Open your computer program of choice.  I'm using Illustrator.  It's one of my favorite programs and it's perfect for this task.  Create a new document that is letter sized (8.5in by 11in).  Using the shape tool, I create 6 3inx3in squares.  The shape and size don't really matter.  What I want to do is fill each with a pattern.

In the swatches panel, click on the Swatches Library Menu.  Select Patterns> Basic Graphics>Basic Graphics_Dots.  I'm going to fill the squares with patterns from the different pattern swatches.

If you have a custom pattern you want to use, that's fine.  You can create repeating patterns in Illustrator or any of a number of other programs.  You can find lots of them online, too.  For now, I want to use the ones that are available in Illustrator, preferably in black & white.

I picked six patterns rather randomly.  Try to keep them fairly simple.  Or as complicated as you think you can handle.  We'll be tracing these on a lightbox.  Save your file and print it.  Grab your lightbox & doll template.

Trace your templates onto paper.  I chose a lightweight watercolor paper just in case I want to paint this later.  Once your outfits are traced out, tape your pattern paper to the lightbox.

I discovered that patterns need to be very high contrast to get this to work.  The elaborate pattern in the top middle was totally lost under the watercolor paper.

This image shows the pattern tracing in progress.  On the left is the doll with no patterns.  In the middle is an outfit with a pattern traced out.  And on the right is what the patterns look like under the watercolor paper.

Here's the final result.  These are just pencil on paper, so the images are a little dark.  The left outfit has an Asian-inspired pattern on the top and cuffs of the pants.  The outfit on the right has stripes on the top and leggings.  I may tweak the stripes on the leggings to be more realistic, but the stripes on the top worked well.

This technique won't get you "perfect" patterns but it WILL get you consistent patterns that look hand-drawn (because they are).  The next lesson is going to take this doll and use a program to digitally color it in a way that looks like it's natural/traditional media.

Til then, look for a Fashion Friday doll this week and happy drawing :)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, I can't wait to try this out!