Archive for the ‘Tutorial’ Category

FIGHT GAME Tshirt designs

FIGHT GAME Tshirt designs

Following on from my earlier post regarding NIKKO shirt designs. The original designs were rebranded to FIGHT GAME for an upcoming movie/video game of the same name. Executive producer and NIKKO MD, Bas Boon, asked us to come up with some more designs specifically for the FIGHT GAME brand. In the tutorial I will ‘talk through’ the designs called liberty….

Starting off with another of Noud van Miltenburg’s great illustrations…

My first decision was to bring in the black line illustration and the colour on separate layers, the original colouring wasn’t the correct hue for this shirt and the flames were too literal, so I kept the highlights and shadows and gave it al a blue/grey hue….

The next decision was the background, my concept was to have the statue of liberty climbing out of a distressed chaotic background, this for me was a poiniant image and also had some conatations towards New Yorks recent history. So I wanted to start at the material of the shirt and give that a faded look…

Nouds illustration now needed some loosening up, so using some vectors from our Scribbly Doodles Vector CoolKit
I set about adding a graffitti scribbles…

Not quite enough, a few more needed…

It was beginning to come together now, just a few more to darken the bottom…

The design was taking on a ‘Banksie’ look now, so I decided to add some spray can drips to fortify the graffitti look…

Finally I added the FIGHT GAME branding with some more spray drips…

The finished image was then added to the rest of the range. These Tshirts and hoodies will be available for purchase online very soon, check back to this article soon for more details.


Fast and furious photo montage in Photoshop

Fast and furious photo montage in Photoshop

Sometimes you have to help a pal out. A good old friend of mine emailed me last night asking if I could work up a poster for his outdoor adventure business based in the Lake Distict, UK. He had ‘knocked something up’ himself in Word (:)) and wasn’t too pleased with it.

I put aside 3 hours to try and improve on things. I had the photographs above and what I could download from his website ( I picked a particular photo to start off…

This, I decided to use as the central picture, not sure why, but you have to start somewhere! Looking through the activities that the kids were involved in, I had a rough concept of sky (paragliding) top, ground (rock climbing) middle and water (canoeing, swimming etc.) bottom. First task then, add some sky….

With a 3 hour window, I wanted to keep complex cut-outs to a minimum, so, using the eraser set to airbrush I roughly blended the top of the original photo into the sky. I had already picked a paragliding picture to go in, so the main group shot was moved to the right.

Next, add more people……

Again, I roughly hacked out the parts I didn’t want. Keeping in the mid section, I added the column of walkers in the fern…

Ok, I was happy so far. Next step was to add the paragliding shot. It’s always a good idea in photo montaging, if you have similar landscapes or horizontal lines in two shots, to line them up. It makes the transition look a lot more natural….

The composition, so far, was lacking people actually enjoying themselves. Time for some smiling faces!

Now I found myself with a horizontal line across the bottom half, not good, try to avoid the shots in you montage merging at the same point, it generates an obvious line to the observer. I revisited the walkers shot and ‘pinched’ a bit more fern.

Still needed more happy faces, time to do a couple of cut-outs….

Looking ok, now I was running out of space for the water activities. I had only a few pictures here, if in doubt just throw one in….

As you can see, I had to extend the water by flipping the shot on the left and stretching it horizontally, It would do for now. I had now reached the file size I wanted to work to (A2). What to do about the obvious join?? I still had ample of pictures to use… What about if I try something like this…

Yes! that works… Now I started to add the text, starting with the heading…

I added a dark blue glow on the heading to make it stand out from the sky, happy so far, so time for the details…

I tried to hide the bag in the middle of the poster with the Camp dates box, I didn’t work so they ended up here. Final text to add was the contact details and accreditation…

Nearly there…. It’s always a good idea, when you are nearing the end of a project, to stop and stand back for a minute and take in the big picture. For me there were a few dead areas in the poster, the bottom right, the grass lower centre, the bag and left by the paraglider. I wanted the finished poster to look appealing to kids and parents alike and decided to go a little over the top and show more activites and group shots…

Finally, I added a border just to give the poster some breathing space…..

Love ’em or hate ’em, photo montages can often produce stunning results in a surprisingly short period of time.

Burrowdale summer camp is a fantastic experience for your children (plus you get a week off too!), run by professional staff with years of outdoor experience. Burrowdale owner, Jocky Sanderson, as well as being an outdoor pursuits expert is one of the UK’s top paragliding instructors running flying courses worldwide (, he was also featured on BBCs ‘Britain from above‘ TV series with Andrew Marr (Check out the behind-the-scenes clip HERE).


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… )


Creating a glass orb effect

Using Photoshop’s polar co-ordinates filter

The polar co-ordinates filter in Photoshop is a rarely used gem. Following this tutorial I will show you how to simply create a reflective glass orb or ball from any photograph. This works with ANY version of Photoshop going back over the last 15 years.

How to do it.

Select your photograph (I am using an image from Stockvault).

For best results crop you image to a square using the crop tool with ‘shift’ key.

Now apply the Distort: polar co-ordinates filter on the ‘Polar to rectangular’ setting. You will have a weirdly distorted image!

Next go to image:image size and unproportionaly scale your image height by 50%, then duplicate your Background layer.

Now go to image:canvas size and increase the height by 200% leaving your image in the top half.

Now Edit:transform your ‘Background copy’ layer using ‘Flip Vertical’, then with your shift key held down move the whole layer down to the bottom half to line up.

Here’s the fun bit

Flatten your image in the layers palette. Now run Distort: Polar co-ordinates again using ‘Rectangular to polar’ this time.

Voila! You have the start of an Orb!

Now select your orb with the ellipse selection tool then you can adjust the amount of edge reflection using Distort:Spherise filter  (I will use 100% for this exercise).

Edit: Copy the orb. Now File:Revert back to your original picture. Then Edit:Paste

Adding Shading

Scale down your Orb a little then select it again (Ctrl click the layer icon).

Next gently shade the bottom right hand edge using black, a soft brush set to multiply and 20% opacity.

Select a slightly smaller circle and centre it in your orb.

And using a smaller soft brush with white set to ‘screen’ and an opacity of 20%, gently brush in a highlight inside your inner circle in the top right.

Finishing touch

Create a new layer and edit:fill:black 100%. Then Filter:Render:Lens flare (Pick one to your liking). Then set this layer to ‘Screen’ in the layer palette

Move the layer so the bright spot falls on your brushed in highlight….

You are done!

This is a great technique for generating crystal balls, Christmas tree baule baules and (using different areas of an image) bubbles. Have fun with it.

Ivan Longland.


Creating a character animation in Adobe Illustrator

Creating a character animation in Adobe Illustrator

This project was initially a visual for an opening sequence for the HD TV show ‘Robert Hagan’s Splash of Color’. The concept was dropped for another idea (more on that later) but the animation was re-used as a device on another of Robert hagan’s shows ‘Let’s go painting’.

In this case study, I will show you how to do a simple character walking cycle. The Robert Hagan character was drawn in illustrator for one of Robert’s books. So I already had my character style but I decided that a simple line version would be better for the TV show.

Next I found a walk cycle reference from

Now, studying the movement from the reference I created 4 generic parts of the character: The head, body, arm and boots.
The legs I decided I would draw freehand.

Then it was a case of overlaying my character parts on the animation reference and move/rotating the various elements.

Then I added a paintbrush to Bob’s left hand…

The next step was to import each frame into Photoshop as a layer,
Adjust the positioning and using the layer-to-frames option in Photoshop’s animation palette exported this animated gif.

The final insertion to the Show was done using Final Cut pro by editor, Simon Harrison, with extra frames that I created to show bob at the easel, drinking coffee and taking a step back.

You can order ‘Let’s go painting’ on DVD from Robert’s website if you have an interest in oil painting…

Happy vectoring!

Ivan Longland –