Archive for January, 2010

Free Illustrator Tutorial

Free Illustrator Tutorial

Family friend ‘Uncle Vince’ has recently discovered ‘social networking’ on the internet, so, as a bit of fun, I set about creating a custom illustration in Adobe Illustrator for him to use as an avatar. I often joke that he looks like an east-end, hardman character out of the movie ‘Snatch’ or ‘Lock, Stock and smoking Barrels’ in most of his photos. So we picked a photo that looked more like his true character of friendliness and good nature!

Nice! The first task was to try and work out some shadow areas, I ran the photo through the posterize filter in Photoshop to see what it would come up with in the way of shadows….

Not brilliant, but it gave my an idea of some areas to work on, so out came the tracing paper and a pencil (for the younger generation, this is a long wooden stick with black stuff in the middle, used for writing and drawing in the old days before mobile phones). Allowing for hair loss, the pencil lines were then fortified with black felt tip

The next step was to scan the shadow trace.

The scan was then placed into illustrator, locked then traced using the pen tool.

I tend to trace in Illustrator using a magenta stroke and no fill, It really helps to see where you are going. Take your time on this part and try to enjoy the process, once you are engrossed you will be surprised how quickly you can do it.

All the shadow shapes finished were then converted to black fills, then printed out on tracing paper and overlaid onto the original picture to sketch in some mid-tone shapes.

There is a certain amount of trial and error here, I find it helps to blur your eyes a bit to help make decisions where the mid-tone line is. But keep going and any parts that don’t ‘look right’ when you trace can be adjusted in Illustrator after.

Again, scan the mid-tone trace and place in Illustrator to trace.

The mid-tones were then carefully traced (on a new layer), coloured and I then went to work on the eyes….

I decided at this point to add Uncle Vince’s trademark of designer glasses, he often wears them and he seemed more recognisable with them on. Back to the eyes…. The eyes were created using the sphere tool and gradients to match eye colour. A few highlights and they began to look good. The eyes, for me, are a main point of focus on the face (unless someone has an ugly wart or huge nose) so spend some time getting them right.

By this point you should end up with something looking like this (previewed in outline mode).

Next I added some highlight details using illustrators blend tool between 2 shapes. The bigger shape being the same as the base flesh colour and the smaller a lighter shade.

Then a few finishing touches, a floral pattern for the shirt, ear rings with highlights and some light shading on his glasses and Bob’s your uncle! (well, vince then), all done!

With a broad keyline added and a snazzy background the result works quite well large and small. This is a good technique for creating portraits for stickers or screen printing where colours are limited. Uncle Vince is happy with it and most of the family seem to recognise who it is and that’s good enough for me….

(actually, now I look at it again and if it were a commercial job I would tidy up the chin shadow a bit… )


Retro Magazine Art

Retro Magazine Art

If you are reading this you are already taking some time out from work, right?  I am a big fan of retro artwork, especially these magazine front covers from science publications from the 1920′s and 30′s. They are all visions/dreams of how the future might be. The ideas look a little naive now, but the illustrations still have charm and appeal. These images are from the modern mechanix blog (weblink at the bottom of this article). So why not sit back and be inspired by the ideas and dreams of a generation gone by…

These are just a few examples of the huge resource of vintage magazine cover and articles available at the Modern Mechanix blog

CLICK HERE to pay them a visit.


Apaganza Creative CoolKits now available!

Apaganza Creative CoolKits now available!

Apaganza Vector CoolKits, Texture CoolKits and PS Brushes are now online and ready to go. At just $4.99, yes you read it right, ONLY $4.99 you are getting a great big box of creative ammo! What’s more, the crazy dudes here, have decided that the first five customers will get one FREE* Vector Coolkit pack for each one purchased. Be the first! get these creative tools first and get more FREE!!

*After your PAYPAL payment goes through, we will email you and ask which FREE CoolKit you want, and we will send it to you within 24 hrs.


Free Vector Graphics

Free Vector Graphics

In order to promote awareness of and to prove to the world what a generous bunch we are. We are giving away FREE some cool vector graphics. So, tuck in, fill your boots and enjoy. These vector images are released under creative commons copyright licence, which means that you can use them in your personal or commercial projects in part or whole. You may NOT re-distribute or host these on your own site as freebies without permission from Apaganza. That out of the way here is the free stuff…

90‘s Technology (Isometric)

These elements were originally drawn by Ivan Longland in 1998 for Apple Centre, Reading, UK for use in network diagrams. Now they are free for you to enjoy…

You can download this graphic from by clicking HERE

Laughing Chinese Buddha

This highly detailed laughing buddha vector graphic is a free sample from our, soon to be released, Vector CoolKits. This example is from the Oriental Statue Kit. The CoolKits will be live, here NEXT WEEK!

You can download this graphic from by clicking HERE


CSP Construction

CSP Construction

Classic stationery and airborne adventures…

With the widespread use of Word and inkjet printers, most business tend to generate their own stationery with a logo dropped into their documents. Most don’t realise that it’s a false economy, inkjet inks are expensive!!

CSP Construction MD, Tom Coghlan, wanted something a bit more classic for his tropical construction company. The team at APAGANZA were happy to oblige.

First off we experimented with some logo options, something clean, simple and effective for summing up what Tom’s neat operation was about.

The final contenders (above) where then discussed and the ‘palm leaf’ option was chosen. We really wanted, with the stationery, to get across Tom’s ideals of retaining as much of the local nature as possible in his projects. Something natural and simple was the key.

After hunting through paper samples of Bangkok’s paper suppliers, we chose Tintoretto Malange stock from Italian paper supplier Fedringo. Fedringo have a great reputation for using clean hydro-electric power where possible and are involved in forest replenishing (Every tree taken for pulp, a new one is planted), they also use fast growing plants for their pulp such as cotton, hemp, flax and bamboo. Way to go…

The finished result was stunning, the stationery looked, smelt and felt good and was achieved on a surprising low budget.

The next project, after the stationery, was a decent brochure that would really show the beauty of Tom’s projects. Again we were happy to oblige. The first task was to obtain some good photography. Time for some adventure…. Graphic design is a great profession, intellectually stimulating and rewarding BUT sometimes lacks physical adventure.

Apaganza head honcho, designer, tea boy and sky pest, Ivan Longland, decided that to get some really great shots, it was time to unleash the beast……

This is his La mouette 210cc paramotor trike, quite simply, just sit in, start her up, inflate your wing and you are off to the skies….

Paramotors are ideal for airborne photography, they are relatively stable and with enough height, allow the pilot to fly hands free for short lengths of time to capture some great photography.

So, with a 6 a.m. take off from a local sports field, he was on his way to Tom’s project ‘Coconut Grove’ in Hua Yai district. An hours flight with his sony digital camera firing off in all directions Ivan landed with some stunning results…

That task done, we set about designing the brochure. We decided to use as much local paper as possible and again, keep things looking as natural as possible.

One of our pet hates here is seeing too much obviously computer-generated floor plans and artists impressions of buildings, it sucks! so Tom’s architect ‘Bay’ drew up some great traditional hand-drawn plans and elevations. As for the finished project… you can flick through it yourself… HERE

If you are lucky enough to be interested in having a beautiful home built in Thailand, CSP-Construction are the people to talk to…