Monday 10 December 2012

Keynote + Inkpad, a Powerful Combo!

iPad can be used to create amazing custom graphics for presentations. The key is to harness the power of two apps: Keynote and Inkpad.

The animation below is a slide that was created using vector artwork components created in Inkpad. These pieces were assembled and animated in Keynote... on an iPad.

Here's a basic breakdown of the process...
1. Vector artwork was created and separated into a series of layers in Inkpad.
2. All layers were locked.
3. Individual graphical elements were then selected by unlocking layers.
4. Selected items are copied and pasted into Keynote.
5. Objects were animated using builds in Keynote.

When pasted into Keynote, the vector objects copied from Inkpad are converted to bitmap objects. Here's what makes this process cool... they appear in Keynote as perfectly masked objects with transparent background. Even if the object is semi-transparent, the transparency is retained. See the figure below for an example of this.

It is very easy to build up layers of graphics. This can be done as individual elements or whole. Since the background elements for this example did not need to animate individually they were copied over as one unit.

This technique is very powerful and there are many uses for it...but there's one more surprise. Pasting masked objects from Inkpad is not just limited to Keynote. It also works well in Apple's other iWork apps - Pages and Numbers.

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Illustrate a Gingerbread Man

An important technique to have in your vector illustration arsenal is flipping (or mirroring) your artwork. This is a time-saving approach is especially effective if the subject you are illustrating is symmetrical. It involves creating half of the artwork (left side or the right side) and flipping a copy to the other side saving you half of the work. Below are some instances where mirroring would work well.

This technique was used to create the gingerbread man pictured at the top of this post.
Follow the tutorial steps below to get started.

Preparing Drawing
Open Inkpad on your iPad.
Create a new illustration. I used 8.5X11 portrait for this illustration.
Set the grid switch to "ON" under the Settings icon.
Set Snap to Grid switch to "ON".
Set your grid spacing to .25.

Creating Gingerbread Man Outline
Create a new layer called "Centerline" and draw a line down the center of the page. 
This will be used as the mirror plane. The artwork you draw on one side of this line will be reflected, or mirrored across to the other side  to create the whole illustration.
Lock the "Centerline" layer (press the lock icon in the Layers menu).

Create another new layer and name it "Outline".
Using the bezier tool (third tool down) draw an outline similar to the image below. You may want to turn off snap to grid to do some last minute tweaks. Make sure the points on the right touch the centerline.

Duplicate the gingerbread man outline using the Edit>Duplicate in Place command.
Flip the duplicate copy of the outline using Arrange>Flip Horizontally.
Your drawing should look something like this.

Move the flipped outline to the right (hint: once you start the move, place a second finger on the screen to constrain the movement to be horizontal only).

Select both halves of the gingerbread man outlines and unite them using Path>Unite.
Note: if the centerline points were not centred over one another you may have a little cleanup to do at this point... select each stray point with the selection tool and use the Path>Delete Anchor Points command to remove them.
Hide the Centreline layer and you should now have a completely symmetrical outline of the gingerbread man.

Fill the outline with a reddish brown color:

Highlights and Shadows
The illusion of depth is created by highlights and shadows on the edge of the gingerbread man. This technique is similar to the one covered in my Curious Jelly  and Neon Sign postings.

Duplicate the ginger bread man Outline layer in the Layers Panel (Highlight layer and press the duplicate layer button located at the top right beside the plus button).

Hide the underlying outline layer.

Name the new layer "Shadow". Draw a rectangle that covers the entire outline (see example below). Send the rectangle behind the outline by using the Arrange>Send to Back command.

With the multiple selection tool (second one down) select both the gingerbread man outline and the box.
Subtract the outline from the box by using the Path>Subtract Front command.

In the Shadow and Opacity tool menu turn the Shadow switch to "ON".
Set the drop shadow angle using the wheel to set the angle.
Set the shadow offset to 4 pt and the shadow blur to 12pt
The shadow color should be a slightly darker version of the reddish brown as the shadow.

Duplicate the "Shadow" Layer and name it "Highlight".
Select the Highlight layer and change the color of the shadow to:
Rotate the shadow direction wheel to the opposite end of the wheel.

Hide the Shadow and Highlight layers in the Layer panel.
Unhide the original outline, select and copy it, and hide it again.
Unhide the Shadow layer.
Step 1 - Paste the outline into the Shadow layer.
Step 2 - Set the outline fill and stroke to none.
Step 3 - Select all the contents of the Shadow layer by using Edit>Select All in Layer
Step 4 - Mask the contents by using the Path>Mask command.

Repeat Steps 1 to 4 with the highlight layer.

After adding a shadow to the outline layer, your drawing should look similar to this:

Create a new layer to add icing details.
Sketch them in using the brush tool. Turn shadows on.

Create another new layer below the icing details for the gingerbread man texture. Begin creating a series of small circles similar to example below. Once you have done a small section use the Edit>Duplicate command to duplicate them. Then, position them in a vacant area on the gingerbread man.

Continue doing this until you fill all areas.

When texturing is complete, select them all by using the Edit>Select All in Layer command and apply a shadow to the dots. By using a light colour it will give the illusion of being embossed into the gingerbread. Use the following color settings:
Offset = 2

Ensure the Shadow angle is set to a similar angle as the wheel below.

Final steps:
Duplicate the texture layer. Lock all other layers.
Select all and change the color to a lighter color (as below) 
Change shadow color to dark color.

I added some highlights on the icing using the brush tool.
These were filled with a gradient fill going from white to transparent.

Monday 15 October 2012

Draw a Pumpkin

Autumn is here (in North America at least) and nothing symbolizes harvest time quite like a pumpkin. So, to get you in a gourd mood, here's how you can draw a nifty vector-based pumpkin on an iPad using Inkpad:

Document Setup
Open Inkpad and create a new drawing using the following settings:
Snap to points: On
Snap to Grid: On
Grid: On
Grid Spacing: .5 in
Size and Units: 8 in x 8 in

Basic Shape
Using the circle Tool, create a circle similar to the one illustrated below.
Next, with the Arrow Tool, tap on the top anchor point to select it. Begin to move the left handle upwards, while doing so place a second finger on the screen. This will "break" the handles at the control point and will allow you to control them individually. Set the handles similar to picture below.
Adjust the bottom anchor point similar to pic below. We have now drawn the basic pumpkin shape.

Stacking Shapes
Let's establish the basic pumpkin colors. First, fill the pumpkin outline with a radial gradient. Take note of the positioning of the gradient indicator.
Create 4 gradient stops and position them to the right in a similar fashion to the depiction. Exact positioning isn't important at this point as we will be tweaking later.

The colors I used (from left to right) are as follows:

Color 1
R:135  G:65  B:0

Color 2
R:255  G:153  B:0

Color 3
R:255  G:199  B:0

Color 4
R:255  G:236  B:108
Duplicate the pumpkin shape in place by using the "Edit > Duplicate in Place" command.
Select the Scale tool. Begin to scale the copied pumpkin shape. Similar to breaking the handles on an anchor point, place a second finger down during the scaling process. This activates the non-uniform scale mode and will allow you to squash the pumpkin similar to the pic below. This is a little tricky and may take a few tries and practice to get the hand of it. If you are having difficulty scaling the shape the way you want, try turning off the snap settings.

Repeat the previous copy, paste, and scale actions to create another layer of pumpkin.

Repeat again... And your pumpkin should now look like this.

Next, remove the darkest color from the gradient of the front pumpkin shape.
Select each of the shapes and adjust the position of the darkest gradient stop so that it blends in with the shape in front of it.

Select the top anchor point of the frontmost shape. With the Selection Tool selected, double-tap on the anchor point. This will convert it to a corner. Now, double-tap it again. This will return it to a smooth curve.

Adding Detail
Create a new layer below the pumpkin shapes for the stem. With the Brush Tool selected, draw a stem shape.

Use a radial gradient to set the colors of the stem.
To add further realism to the pumpkin we will add a shadow.
Copy the largest pumpkin shape and paste it into a new layer above all other layers.
Fill the layer with a radial gradient and set the transfer mode to multiply.

Set the gradient controls to have the smaller radius on top. Extend the control slightly beyond the top and bottom if the shape.
The colors used for the gradient stops are (left to right):
Color 1
R:255  G:255  B:255

Color 2
R:181  G:95  B:61

Color 3
R:78  G:44  B:0

Color 4
R:172  G:156  B:135

Notice Color 2 gives the pumpkin a much richer orange hue.

Create a new layer above the layered pumpkin artwork.
Select the back most pumpkin shape. Copy it and paste it in your new layer.
Fill it with a centered radial gradient using colors similar to the gradient pictured below. Keep the darker colour a warm color.
Change the Blend Mode to Multiply (under Shadow and Opacity menu)

Adjust the gradient controls by bringing the center gradient control point just past the top of the pumpkin - and the outer control point just past the bottom. See example below.
For the cast shadow create another new layer. Draw a circle and fill it with a centered radial gradient. Use the following arrangement for the gradient stops. Set the transparency of the outermost gradient to 0%.

Use a non-uniform scale (two finger technique) to squash the shadow.

Place the shadow below the pumpkin and send the layer below all other layers. Adjust the location of the gradient stops until you are satisfied with the look if the shadow.
Add some details to the stem. A couple of subtle, well placed highlights help a lot.
One final step. Create a background layer below all other layers. Create a box and fill it with a linear gradient.

Wednesday 3 October 2012

Carpe Diem

Here's a look at the creative process behind one of my recent illustrations along with a few mini-tutorials covering some of the techniques used to create this illustration. This illustration was created on an first-generation iPad using the vector illustration app – Inkpad.

My illustrations are usually created by a process of discovery, actions + reactions to the actions. They involve a series of tests, comparisons, and decisions – during which layers of artwork are often left unused at the end of the piece. Allow me to walk you through the concept, layout, and detail stages of this illustration (for more examples of Inkpad illustrations check out my Flickr photostream).

The Concept
The concept behind this illustration began as a play on words from the phrase "Carpe Diem" ("seize the day")... However, "Carpe Diem" can easily be said as "Carp per diem"(per diem being latin for "daily allowance"). Naturally, the visual of a carp getting his daily meal sprung to mind. So, after some research into what carp roughly looks like, I ventured into this illustration.
The Layout
A quick sketch was made to help establish the mood and composition of the drawing. Very basic shapes were used as the balance of the drawing was considered. Position and size are important here. The worm, being smaller and lower, is in a position of weakness. Basic color tone is also established in this stage - this scene was envisioned to be at the bottom of a warm tropical river so a warm green was selected as the overall color.
The Lighting
This style of illustration relies heavily on lighting to set mood, enhance character features, and help guide the viewer's eye throughout the illustration. All the lighting in this illustration is created by using radial gradients to create highlights and glows that give it a luminescent look. See below for a quick tutorial explaining how the radial gradients were created for this project.

For further details on creating gradients in Inkpad check out my previous tutorials (Part 1 & Part 2).

In the image below you can see how the basic lighting began with gradients. Notice the reflected lighting off the fish's head - the upper section receives the main light source while the right perimeter and bottom of the fish use subtle gradients to illustrate "bounced" light. This helps give the fish volume and gives the illusion of a 3D shape.
The Glows
Further adjustment to the colors of the radial gradients behind the characters gives a green glow. This is achieved by setting the transparent colour in the radial gradient to a bright green (again, refer to Part 2 of my gradient tutorials for more detailed explanation on how to achieve this effect).
The Details
Adding the back half of  the fish makes the illustration more dramatic. It conveys the appearance that the fish is circling the worm and checking it out. By reducing the transparency, the tail appears to be more distant and less visible – as it would appear in murky water.

The translucent detail on fins and tail were created using a series of radial gradients. See below for the construction sequence.

The specks floating in the water are semi-transparent circles overlayed with radial gradients to give them the effect of having been hit by the light. These were added to create a sense of depth in the water. They also help emphasize the illusion of bright beams of light shining through the water illuminating particles in the murky depths.
The main light source in this illustration is behind the characters. To enhance this lighting effect and further define the outline of the characters, a thin highlight line was drawn on the edges that "receive" light. See below for a close up example of this technique. These lines were created using the pen tool to carefully outline these highlights.
The first scale created began as a circle. It was easily modified by double-tapping the left-most anchor point (with the selection tool) to remove the bezier handles and turn it into a corner. Next the handles for both the top and bottom anchor point were rotated to give the scale it's specific shape. Once one scale was done it was relatively easy to duplicate, place and tweak the existing scales. A subtle gradient fill was used  to give the scales a sense of volume – and that they overlapped one another.

The final phase of the drawing involved the shape of the weeds that surround the fish and worm. I went through several iterations, trying out various shapes sizes and positioning before settling on a simplified, more transparent version that complemented the drawing.
It's always interesting to take a look at the outline mode of the final illustration. In this case after all color and values are removed the basic flow of the illustration still works. It also reminds me a lot of the paint-by-numbers paintings I used to do as a kid.

That's it for this post ... thanks for reading! As always, I look forward to feedback, comments, and questions. Let me know if you have any suggestions for Inkpad tutorials you would like me to cover.

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Creating app icon art with iPad

I thought it would be an interesting challenge to illustrate a high-resolution app icon using the iPad. The beauty of using vector art is that the artwork can be scaled to any size without the loss of quality - this is ideal for  the high-resolution capabilities of the retina display on both the new iPad and the new MacBook Pro.

There are several apps you can use to create professional quality vector illustrations. I decided to use Inkpad as it is familiar to me, and in my opinion, very much worth the price in the App Store. Sadly though, Inkpad has not been updated in over a year. So those of you with new iPads (3rd gen) may not find the graphics to be as crisp as the Retina Display optimized apps. 

One small aside before we get into the tutorial...For those of you who are you interested in drawing apps, there has been an interesting Apple patent published recently. Could we possibly see a vector-based app produced by Apple for both Mac line and iPad line? We shall see. I hope so.

The following is the process I used to create a fictitious drawing app icon (pictured to the left). One thing to note before beginning, I've used multiples of 32 when calculating dimensions as that is a common base for building icons.
  1. Begin by creating a new square canvas (I selected 1024 x1024 pixels for this example). Set the grid spacing to 32 pixels, ensure the grid is visible, and that Snap to Grid is also on.

  2. Select the rectangle tool.
    - Set the corner radius to 96 pixels.
    - Draw a rectangle that fills the canvas.
    Note: in the final product I scaled up the corner radius to more closely resemble an app icon. In this case, this is close to the largest radius that Inkpad will allow so we will work with it for now. Your results should look something like this.

  3. If you look closely at app icons, you’ll notice a very thin one pixel line encircling each icon that serves to highlight it and to give it a subtle 3-D look. Since there is no tool in Inkpad to achieve this task (offset a path) will have to use the following workaround.
    - Copy the rectangle.
    - Create a new layer entitled “Highlight”. Rename your original layer to “Background” and lock it by clicking the lock symbol.
    - Paste the rectangle into the new “Highlight” layer.
    - Access the Fill Tool and set the fill to none.
    - Access the stroke tool and set it to 24 points. This will give you the equivalent of a 12 point stroke when we are finished.
    - Under the “Path” menu, select “Outline Stroke”.
    - Paste the rectangle originally copied at the start of this point
    - Next, select both the pasted rectangle and the newly created stroke.
    - From the “Path” menu, select the “Intersect” option. This remove any areas that are not intersected between the two shapes. You should not be left with a thin line that extends around the shape of the rounded rectangle.

  4. Next we’ll reproduce the curved reflection that appears on almost every app icon. To create this, begin by selecting the circle tool.
    - Draw a circle similar to the picture below. Fill it with a radial gradient fill and set the gradient to originate from the center of the circle. Take particular note of the gradient stops and their locations on the gradient. Note that the first and last gradient stops are set to be completely transparent.
    - Add white to the middle stop and set the transparency in the range of 20 to 30%.
    - Paste the copied rectangle once again, and select both the circle and rounded rectangle. From the “Path” menu, select the “Mask” option. This will mask the reflection to the boundary of the app icon.

  5. Create a new layer entitled “artwork”. We will use this as an artwork layer that sits between the background color and the highlight layer.
  6. On the “Artwork” layer begin to draw the components of your paintbrush. I split mine into three components: the bristles, the handle, and the ferrule (the metal component that clamps the bristles to the handle).

  7. To add detail to the bristles I used the following method.
    - Select the freehand brush.
    - Roughly sketch out the shape that you like the bristles to take.
    - Optimize the number of anchor points (generally the fewer the better as you can get smoother curves with fewer)
    - Use the selection tool to refine your sketch by selecting and moving anchor points to their desired position. Note: you can “break” the handles by placing a second finger down when you have a handle selected. This will allow you to create crisp, sharp points.

  8. Next we will use the same technique we used to create the highlights on the rectangle to create a highlight on the bristles.
    - Using the Freehand Tool, sketch out a rough highlight over one edge of the bristles similar to the picture below. Ensure it completely overlaps one side as it will be cut out by using the intersect tool.
    - copy the bristles outline
    - paste the copied bristles outline on top of your highlight.
    - select both the bristles outline and the highlight. Use the intersect tool (Path>Intersect) to cut out the highlights.

  9. Continue to add detail to your paintbrush. Using the same technique that you used to create the detail on the bristles, create woodgrain on the handle. The handle texture can be masked using the same technique we used to mask components earlier in this project.

    Note: This step may require a lot of refinements and a great deal of patience. It’s also a good idea to take a break from your work if you find you’re getting frustrated. A clear head and fresh look at your art will often help you see which direction to head in once you resume drawing.

  10. To create the background burst effect seen in some of Apple’s icons:
    - Create a new layer below the “Artwork” layer and name it “Burst”
    - Create a circle and fill it with a radial gradient with the origin at the centre of the circle.
    - Use two gradient stops and set the outer stop transparency to 0%

  11. Select the scale tool and perform a non-uniform scale on the circle (use a second finger once you begin scaling).
    - Duplicate the beam once you’re happy with it’s width (Edit>Duplicate in Place).
    - Select the rotate tool and rotate the duplicated beam.
    - Set the object’s transfer mode to “Overlay” (Shadow and Opacity>Blend Mode>Overlay).

  12. Continue duplicating and rotating beams until you are happy with the result.

  13.  The drop shadow below the brush was created in a similar fashion below the brush:
    - Create a layer below the “Artwork” layer named “Shadow”
    - Create a circle and fill it with a radial gradient (2 stops) - place the origin of the gradient at the centre of the circle
    - Set the outer stop transparency to 0%
    - Perform a non-uniform scale on the circle with the scale tool.
    - Rotate the shadow into place
    - Repeat the process with additional shadows if necessary
  14. The last step is to make sure your icon works well as a whole. Your eye should be able to quickly identify it. Remember it will be sitting beside many other icons. For example, I experimented with a brush stroke behind the brush (see below) but determined that the composition might be too busy to take in when it was scaled down. Zoom out and take a fresh look at the colors, composition.

    Here are some suggestion if you feel your icon needs tweaking:
    - bring the “Artwork” layer to the top (above all gradients, etc). this will help the artwork to pop out.
    - experiment by turning layers on and off (e.g. the “Shadow” layer)
    - Does the main object in your icon have a definite light source?
    - What about reflected light?
    - Experiment with layer transparency to de-emphasize areas

  15. That’s it. Happy icon making on the iPad.