House Style

July 26th, 2013

Occasionally, a job presents itself that offers an open and creative brief. The initial brief for this work was to create a monthly web page header illustration for a property website. The illustration is to use “bright pastel” colours and is required to show their stylish new houses. One additional requirement was to add the clients corporate red to the illustration, somewhere. The brief was pretty open.

06-Pencil-drawing

07-Ideas-sketch

 

 

 

 

 

 

Initial sketches have been drawn on paper (left) or on the iPad (right) using Adobe Ideas. These have been scanned or opened in Illustrator to act as a drawing template. Once in Adobe Illustrator, the illustrations have been created in ‘layers‘ for greater control. These images can then either be ‘saved for web‘ (jpg, png, gif) or ‘exported‘ out as a layered ‘Photoshop’ file for further work. 

Adobe Illustrator is the best choice, in this case, for simple drawing and transformations (scale, reflect, rotate and shear). I have used the Illustrator ‘create guide‘ and ‘smart guide‘ features in this drawing. Illustrator also offers a remarkable ‘edit colours‘ feature, which has proved very useful when adjusting colours throughout an image (variations shown below).

Adobe Illustrator illustration06-illustration+spot_0306-illustration_grey_03

The creative freedom this brief has allowed, has enabled a ‘house style‘ to evolve. While being non-specific, the illustrations represent new and modern homes in a fresh and clean style.

05 illustration drawn in Adobe Illustratordrawn in Adobe Illustrator

Hidden depths

February 28th, 2012

As an illustrator, I trained using paper and pencils to construct perspective grids, onto which technical illustrations would be drawn. Drawing film was placed over this construction, then this was traced over in ink.  This was a very absorbing process, if not a little tiring, but it could never be called flexible. Enter 3D modelling software. At a stroke, this wiped out the laborious process of two-dimensional image creation. It replaced this with the possibilities of changing views, lighting and applying textures almost at the push of a button. Add to this, the ability to generate animation of a three-dimensional image, and a whole new 3D world is created. This has been, what up until now, a hidden depth to Adobe Creative Suite.

3D modelling software is complex and can be expensive. It can be considered to be a long and steep learning curve to master. Fortunately, Adobe had the insight to introduce some 3D capability to their applications. This has taken time to evolve. You can now properly see the benefit of their endeavours in within Photoshop CS5.1 ExtendedAcrobat and Illustrator.

Adobe realised that not being able to create 3D images should not be a bar to using them. Photoshop CS5.1 Extended allows you to construct 3D components from a set of default models, text, paths and selections. Crucially, it allows you to import 3D models. This now means that if you do not have the ability to construct a 3D model you can simply import from your own sources or browse several 3D model libraries from within Photoshop. In short, this can only be described as a ‘game changer.’ Prior to this 3D ability, forgetting to place something in the frame when taking a photo, or making an image, meant finding or creating an image in similar perspective and lighting in order to composite it into the original image. Not an easy process. The alternative was worse; retake the photo! Photoshop now allows the user to import or download the 3D model, insert it in the image, revolve, light, texture and even animate it. That’s a very impressive feature.

Photoshop CS5.1 Extended allows you to construct 3D components from text, paths and selections. Crucially, it allows you to import 3D models. This now means that if you do not have the ability to construct a 3D model you can simply import from your own sources or browse several  from within Photoshop. In short, this can only be described as a ‘game changer.’ Prior to this 3D ability, forgetting to place something in the frame when taking a photo, or making an image, meant finding or creating an image in similar perspective and lighting in order to composite it into the original image. Not an easy process. The alternative was worse; retake the photo! Photoshop now allows the user to import or download the 3D model, insert it in the image, revolve, light, texture and even animate it. Wow. Very impressive.

image of 3D title movie

I don’t think Photoshop will ever replace proper 3D modelling tools, nor should it. It does however open up even more creative possibilities. This 3D title sequence was generated using Adobe Illustrator (the 3D logo was drawn in Illustrator, exported as a layered Photoshop file), and then extruded using Repoussé in Photoshop. It was animated and rendered to video from Photoshop.

Adobe Creative Suite 5 enables some basic creation of 3D models, as well as importing and manipulating them. In this example, 2D artwork has been placed on a perspective grid in Adobe Illustrator. Apart from drawing on 1, 2 and 3 point perspective grids, Illustrator does also allow simple extrusions and rotations to be created.

Click on the soap box image to see the full 2 point perspective image, and the flat artwork it was created from. This file was created entirely in Adobe Illustrator.

One of the biggest, and possibly least known, features is the ability to import and use 3D models from within Adobe Acrobat. These can then be viewed in Acrobat Reader. This example show a page created in Adobe InDesign. It shows both the static image created in Photoshop and the interactive 3D model. This is probably best not viewed on a tablet device as they have limited Acrobat features. The 3D model in this example can be manipulated inside Acrobat.

Image of 3D model of Audi R8

Well, actually, ‘manipulated’ may be an understatement in that the user can rotate the model through any angle, zoom, hide elements (shown in the model tree), change the lighting, change the background, change the render mode … and save all these as views, that others can access. Comments can also be saved with views. What more could you want?

Several views have been saved within this ‘hidden depths’ Acrobat file. Please download the file for a closer look at the 3D model of the car. I hope you find this interesting. It opens up a whole world of 3D possibilities.

Tablet justified

September 6th, 2011

It was a conscience decision to invest in a tablet computer for use with training. I have never felt more compelled to justify such spending, even when it hasn’t been prompted. My shiny new toy guilt has subsided since I’ve started to use it.

My initial reason for purchasing what seemed to be little more than another gadget, was to expand my knowledge of publishing to an array of mobile devices from InDesign CS5.5. It also offered the chance of creative input with Adobe Ideas and Adobe Color Lava, Eazel and Nav for Photoshop CS5.

While the iPad screen is relatively small compared with a laptop, its size means it’s easier to hold, rotate and share. I will want to do all three things as its great design is palpable. Accessibility and convenience mean it is too easy to download apps and publications. I looked for publications that are created from InDesign. Wired is a great one from many designed in InDesign. It is a different experience to reading the paper product. The design has been well thought through and the interactivity is immersive, though barely more effort than turning a page. It is as easy to pass around a group; can’t be rolled up, coffee stained or borrowed without return.I think it has the ability to pull you into its brand. Apart from passive use reading and viewing material, the apps promise productivity.

There are many drawing, painting and image manipulation applications for tablet devices, as an Adobe certified instructor and illustrator, I’d like to initially discuss what Adobe have on offer. Adobe Ideas still seems a little basic in both appearance and functionality. And while the software is inexpensive, ‘Layers’ can be purchased as an add in. I started out using just my digit free flowing over the surface of the iPad. This lacks precision but does give a sense of primeval mark making, and just good basic fun for newcomers to it. I then used a Griffin Stylus; which straight away felt intuitive. This got over my initial fear of only being able to create primitive marks on the page.


I can see a use for this to simply and quickly illustrate a point when I’m training in the classroom. I can easily switch to this, to project it, and now save sketches and diagrams where a conventional whiteboard couldn’t. Equally, anyone wishing to capture a rough idea, quickly, will find this helpful, as the results can be saved and accessed as PDF’s or simply opened in Adobe Illustrator for further work. Apart from drawing from scratch, you can use photos on separate layers to draw over. 
For these illustrations, I capitulated and bought layers to aid the drawing.


Tablet computing hasn’t killed drawing on paper or reading books and magazines, but they now have a truly viable alternative platform. Both paper and digital realms have their own merits. I look forward to the progression of the tablet, while not completely sidelining my moleskine.

Tablet computing

July 26th, 2010

Man has an inherent need to communicate; whether it’s for posterity, culture or more commonly transactions; we’ve always had this requirement. One of the earliest forms of this was the ‘cuneiform’.  This was a clay tablet that could be inscribed. Basic but functional. The materials changed over time. Several key developments have aided how we capture information and communicate it. The invention of paper. The first printing press with moveable type. The camera, wireless and latterly, computer. Several iterations of the personal computer have come and gone. The latest of which, has now evolved into the tablet computer.

As a tablet computer, Apples iPad has certainly grabbed at lot of attention recently.  It is obvious from its’ looks that it is a tablet computer. What is less obvious, is what you can use it for, and where it fits in with our everyday technology? Apple are happy to sell its’ uses as a web surfing, email, gaming and presentation tool. From the people I’ve talked to, hardly any have yet rushed out to buy this exciting bit of technology. They can’t see a use for it. I think this may be a case of Apple being ahead of its’ customers. It will take more adventurous and creative thinking consumer to slot this into its own niche.

I am not sure anyone wants to spend money on a device that, in some respects, mimics what can already be done with phones and laptops. I am in danger of missing the point of the tablet as I think it is the experience of what it delivers rather than the regular content we are used to, that is its selling point.
With more of a drawing capability, I would use one to coexist with paper notebooks. A lot more use could be gained from it than a more passive reading deviice. It would be quite useful for people to use when they want to surf and check emails more comfortably. I’m currently writing this on my iPhone on a train (with the sound off!); a bigger screen and keyboard would speed this up and totally enhance the experience.
No matter how I may view it, it’s fair to say it’s here to stay, judging by its sales figures.

Silver linings

May 17th, 2010

It may be a stretch of the imagination to say that ash clouds have silver linings. Short of the lost revenues, additional costs, frustration and sheer tedium of waiting to travel, there is a lot of fall out from these naturally occurring phenomena. It doesn’t help the smooth running of an economy. I do feel for those who have had their travel plans ruined.

With the ecological and monetary benefits, virtual solutions are being taken more seriously. There are a lot of things you cannot do virtually, thankfully. A virtual holiday anyone? A virtual performance, music or otherwise? How about a virtual meeting. Well there, you may just want to have a closer look. Could all your criteria be met by online technology? What sort of meeting or presentation could this aid. Training would be a suitable activity that would benefit from virtualisation. You wouldn’t have the time and expense of travelling to a location. There is a major benefit in learning in more manageable portions; you are not overloaded with the onslaught of information.

Adobe have had such a solution for a while. The Adobe Acrobat web site allows up to three users to meet virtually. This is perfect for small presentations, discussions and one-to-one training.

It works on Mac and PC, and requires nothing, other than the latest free Flash plug-in. It can work with applications other than Adobes’ too.

I deliver training and consultancy remotely to Mac and PC users. Imagine the scenario, you have been handed some work that is currently beyond what your experience, you have a limited budget (so a training course is out of the question) and the deadline is marching towards you. Without leaving the office, you could book the precise bit of training, and have it delivered right to you at your desktop, and get the job done.

If you’d like to see how it works, please contact me today to arrange a virtual meeting. It’s really easy to set up and you need no specialist equipment. Call me now, on 07966 212911 or email phil@philiptalbot.co.uk for your free trial.