Jun 282017

Back in March, the Book Collector announced it was resurrecting James Bond author Ian Fleming's typography competition. Originally launched while Fleming was helping out at the typographical magazine Alphabet & Image, the contest invited graphic designers to create a 27th letter of the alphabet.

Over 2,500 people from around the world entered, but there could only be one winner. Assessed by a panel of judges chaired by Professor Phil Cleaver, the entries were whittled down to a shortlist with Sir Peter Blake choosing the overall winner. So without any further ado, meet 'LOL', the 27th letter of the alphabet as imagined by graphic design student David Guthrie.

Guthrie was awarded a volume of Ian Fleming's letters embossed with his letter

"I found out about the competition through my university tutors," says Guthrie, a third year graphic design student at the University of Cumbria in Carlisle. "I'm a huge fan of typographical design and was instantly attracted to the competition from the title alone, and even more so by the history behind it."

"It was such a surprise when I found out I had won! I thought it may have been some sort of prank," he adds. "It was an incredible feeling and it was made all the better as I was able to celebrate my winning with all my classmates at our final degree show where 'LOL' also happened to be the centrepiece of my display."

The letter is the centrepiece of Guthrie's final degree show

Ian Fleming's nephew, Fergus Fleming, praised the standard of entires, some of which will be featured in an upcoming edition of The Book Collector. "We were delighted to receive so many entries from around the world," says Fleming. "Their ingenuity and imagination made the shortlist a very hard call. There wasn’t a dud in the pack and they all showed a spirit of fun. Which is what Ian Fleming had in mind when he came up with the idea in 1947.”

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Jun 282017

Legal contracts aren't often an entertaining read (how many of us have just blindly clicked 'I Agree' when updating our iTunes account?). However a watertight agreement that meets the 10 contract commandments is the foundation of a good working relationship between a design agency and a client.

Sifting through confusing legal jargon can be a chore for creatives eager to get on with a project though, so Chicago-based design firm Segura has decided to go back to basics with its no-nonsense contract. The tongue-in-cheek agreement, called the Segura 'I Am' project, focuses on the practical side of things by hammering home that designers need money to work. You would've thought that would be common knowledge by now, surely?

 The project is intended to be a bit of fun and represents Segura's focus on creating quality work. We're sure lots of designers would love to use such a up-front contract, but in the meantime you'll have to content yourself by reading the most straight-talking agreement you'll ever see below.

Click to see the full size contract
Jun 282017

Every first-time installation of Clip Studio Paint involves an excited exploration of the Decoration subtool. It's a veritable smorgasbord of natural, unnatural and downright goofy brushes that can quickly generate rock-encrusted wastelands, dense forests or, more likely, just a random smear of black and white.

In my experience, this toolset quickly gets relegated to the digital equivalent of the bottom drawer. There is, however, a way to fix this, turning it from a little-loved tool into an absolutely essential time saver.

01. Start with a simple silhouette

Add your creation to the brush list

Think about creating silhouettes: using your own custom-made brush tips is key here. A variety of leaves (hand-drawn or scanned and traced) combined can look like a dense bocage, a set of random blobs add up to the intergalactic power of comics legend Jack Kirby's 'Kirby Krackle' effect and a crowd is really just a mass shape composed of numerous individuals. Each brush tip should be made of a simple silhouette. 

Draw a variety of shapes on a single layer in black and white, then select them individually and add to the brush list using 'Edit > Register Image as Material'.

02. Build on an existing brush

Break your pattern down into a simple silhouette

It's always easier to start from an existing brush and build up. So find a Decoration subtool you think might do the job – most of my more successful silhouette brushes are derived from the Foliage brush – and use the Create Copy of Currently Selected Sub Tool icon to duplicate it and then edit it.

03. Organise your brushes

Once you've designed a few of your own more useful decorative brushes, you can drag them out of their subtool and on to the toolbar on their own, grouping them together to save time hunting for them when you need them.

You can produce a complex silhouette by waving the brush around and applying pressure to help generate random patterns.

This article originally appeared in ImagineFX issue 145; buy it here!

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Jun 282017

There's never been a better time to start learning design skills. Whether you want to build apps and websites for fun or turn it into your career, the Learn to Design Bundle can teach you how. Grab it on sale right now for just $29 (approx. £23).

There is a lot going on behind the scenes of your favourite apps and websites. You can learn how to understand and tinker with the inner workings of those services with the Learn to Design Bundle. With more than 57 hours of lessons across nine courses, this bundle can teach you everything from the fundamentals of UX and UI to the coding languages like HTML5 and CSS3 that make the web and mobile apps run.

The courses in the Learn to Design Bundle usually retail for $1,209. You can save a huge 97% on that price right now. That means you pay just $29 (approx. £23). It’s a great price to get your start as a design expert, so grab it today!

Jun 282017

Dot art – otherwise known as pointillism – covers many forms of art. Artists, graphic designers, photographers and illustrators are experimenting with this, one of the most exciting art techniques around. But whatever the medium, pointillism pieces all have one thing in common: the dot.

We've selected 15 striking examples of pointillism-based artwork to inspire you to give the technique a go. Some are more traditional, while others have elaborated on the technique to create something entirely new.

01. James Cochran


James' art can be seen on walls around the globe

James Cochran – Jimmy C – was a huge part of the underground graffiti movement in Australia during the late 1980s. His interest in urban realist and figurative oil painting led to the development of his signature aerosol pointillist style; portraits or urban landscapes painted entirely from blobs of spray paint.

Although now living in London, Cochran's pieces of art can be seen on walls, buildings, and murals around the globe. His David Bowie mural in Brixton, London, has been adopted as a shrine to the musician.

02. Paul Signac

Place des Lices, Saint-Tropez (1893)

An artist, anarchist and keen sailor, much of whose work focused on the French coastline, Paul Signac was one of the two founders of Pointillism, along with Georges Seurat. Inspired by Surat's working methods and theory of colours, Signac abandoned impressionism and developed the process of painting scientifically juxtaposed dots of pure colour that would blend in the viewer's eye, rather than on the canvas.

03. Jerry O Wilkerson

I Can't Believe It's Not Butter (1992)

St Louis-based artist Jerry O Wilkerson expertly blended pointillism with pop art in his work. Much of it was food-based, featuring hamburgers, hot dogs, lobsters and even a Campbell's soup tin, among other things, rendered in vivid pointillistic colours that owed as much to the half-tone looks of print processes as to the impressionistic style of the original pointillists.

04. Phan Thu Trang

Peaceful Village – Trang’s strongest point is to capture light and bring it to her stunning paintings

Born and based in Hanoi, Phan Thu Trang uses a limited palette and bold dabs of colour to bring the rural Vietnamese landscape to vivid life. Using oils and a palette knife to render the amazing impasto trees that dominate her work, she always tries to use colour and light to create a different sensation for each piece of her art.

05. Yuriy Skorohod

Skorohod describes his work as being born out of nothing

Hailing from Minsk in Belarus, Yuriy Skorohod describes himself as a dotwork artist. "The 'dot' is an abstract object in space having neither volume, area, length nor any other measurable characteristics," he says. "This way, out of nothing, my drawings are getting born."

06. William Wilkins

The Jubilee Plantation (1980)

Having graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1960, William Wilkins started developing his own pointillist technique in the 1970s. 

His earlier work tends to be concerned with tone and colour and frequently employs many layers of paint, while his more recent work is more interested in luminosity and opacity, with seldom more than one layer of paint on the canvas. He lives and works in Wales, but also works in Venice.

07. Kevin Sprouls

kevin sprouls

Kevin's created the portrait style synonymous with The Wall Street Journal

Kevin Sprouls spearheaded the style of drawing now referred to as 'hedcut'. Using a stippling method of many small dots and a cross hatching method of many small lines, Sprouls created drawings that emulated the look and feel of old newspaper woodcuts and engraving.

In 1979, the illustrator approached The Wall Street Journal with his ink dot work and was subsequently employed by the publication until 1987, helping to create its signature look. There are now five hedcut artists at working at The Wallstreet Journal, continuing Sprouls' legacy.

08. Dr Woo

dr woo tattoos

Dr Woo uses a single needle to tattoo his sought-after designs

All tattoos are essentially pointilism, typically using eight needles at once, each one penetrates the skin at high speed to create lines.

What is so unique about Dr Woo's work, however, is that he uses one needle, meaning his tattoos are created not from a machine, but by hand dot after excruciating dot.

While this style of tattooing isn't unique to Woo, his designs are incredibly intricate and beautiful and have inspired many. The L.A.-based artist has inked celebrities such as Miley Cyrus, Brooklyn Beckham and Ellie Goulding.

09. Xavier Casalta

'Winter' [click the icon to enlarge the image]

French artist Xavier Casalta is an expert when it comes to creating inspiring dot art. He builds up his images using a time-consuming stippling technique in black ink – the above artwork took 400 hours to complete, and includes around eight million dots. Casalta's intricate designs have attracted clients including Dior, the National Gallery of London and Nissan. 

10. Pablo Jurado Ruiz


Ruiz often creates beautiful pointillism art in both colour and monochrome

Pablo Jurado Ruiz is a Spanish artist who specialises in pointillist art, using black and white drawing to create beautifully realistic portraits of innocence. "I try to tell stories through a minimalist and subtle vision," he explains. "My current work focuses on simple but realistic drawings worked in an impressionist technique."

11. Georges Seurat


Painter Georges Seurat's piece is an early example of pointillism, created in the late 1880s

French Post-Impressionist painter Georges Seurat spent over two years creating his beautiful, and probably best-known, painting Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.

An early example of pointillism, Seurat finished the piece, which is estimated to consist of approximately 3,456,000 dots, in the late 1880s.

12. Miguel Endara


Hero is composed of approximately 3.2 million black ink dots

Crafted by illustrator and artist Miguel Endara, Hero (above) is composed of approximately 3.2 million black ink dots, using a single Sakura Pigma Micron pen (nib size 005, 0.2mm). It took nearly a whole year to complete. You can see how it was done in the video below.

13. Matt Booth


The skull on the print appears white, until the lights go out!

Most - but not – of multidisciplinary designer Matt Booth's work uses pointillism as its influence. This skull glow poster uses an array of dots to make up the image. The skull on this dot art print appears completely white until the lights go out.

14. Yayoi Kusama

How could we write up a post on pointillism and dot art without including the Queen of the polka dot herself, Yayoi Kusama? Ever since the 1960s, this dot-loving lady has been renowned for her innovative and inspirational work.

This project entitled 'Obliteration Room' was showcased in London's Tate Modern. Over the course of a few weeks, a room was transformed from a blank canvas into an explosion of colour, with thousands of spots stuck over every available surface.

15. Philip Karlberg


Philip used around 1200 sticks to create celebrity portraits - this one being Johnny Depp

Photographer Philip Karlberg assignments take him all over the world. Among his commercial clients are Swarovski, Marc O’Polo, Kasthall, and NK. In this project, Philip used around 1200 sticks over a six day period to create these striking celebrity portraits. The other subjects include Lady Gaga and Jackie O.

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Jun 282017

It has never been easier to make a website, and our digital toolbox has never been greater. At the same time, we seem more concerned with automating our process and systemising design than with creative thinking and generating ideas. 

Where does this leave expression and storytelling? We talked to Espen Brunborg, co-founder of small Edinburgh-based web agency Primate, to find out.

Why do so many websites look alike these days?
EB: Creating something different – be it a website, a car, a building, or a kettle – is difficult. We have a tendency to mimic what we like, and stepping outside of the mainstream comes with real risk attached.

Prevailing aesthetic preferences affect not only us, but also our clients and their audiences, which makes it challenging to sell anything that looks too different from what's currently out there. What's more, bucking UI trends and established patterns requires more brain power from our users, which can affect conversion or engagement.

That said, there is ample opportunity to stand out without upsetting the general balance of things. Consider books, for example. Their overall shape and function won't change any time soon, but the stories within them are infinitely diverse. Maybe we shouldn't be so hung up on how our websites look, but focus more on the stories we tell on them.

Lingscars.com is certainly different...

It’s easy to build a great-looking site that’s fast and has a great user experience, so why design something that’s the opposite?
EB: The long answer to this question is the wonderful story of how lingscars.com – a beacon of bad design – became an international phenomenon.

The short answer is that of course we shouldn't – designing for the opposite of best practice is a really bad idea. 

Then again, perhaps we should be asking ourselves a different question. Why design something that’s only fast and good looking? If usability and aesthetics are our only concern, why do we need more than one font? Why paint cars in more than one colour? Why not wear uniforms to work? 

The answer is individual expression. What we should get better at is designing fast, user-friendly websites that are also personable, emotional and expressive. If all other factors are equal, memorability wins.

Playfulness and humour features heavily in the Zendesk site

How can storytelling (and comedy specifically) help create better websites?
EB: Whenever we put words to a page we’re telling stories, meaning storytelling is intrinsic to design – whether we like it or not. The key to good design, therefore, is to learn how to tell our stories well and to create meaningful, emotional connections with our readers and visitors. 

Comedy – meaning anything that pushes our imagination beyond the mere efficiency of any given interface – is a key part of that. For example, if Bill Bryson had only focused on efficiency in his Short History of Nearly Everything, we’d be left with a pile of bullet points instead of a best-selling tale of popular science.

The Outline is a new kind of publication that tells stories around three topics: power, culture and the future

What aspects of web design annoy you the most when you're browsing?
EB: Apart from clickbait and dark patterns? Delay. Delay is infuriating at times. I don’t really mind waiting for a video, game, or otherwise interesting piece of internet to load (though they'd better be worth the wait). 

But I genuinely want to smash my phone in the face of adverts that force me to wait until I can locate the tiniest ‘x’, pop-ups that appear just as I’m about to click something, or gratuitous effects that result in me requiring several attempts at a simple action because the interface doesn’t respond the way I expect.

At Generate London, Brunborg will take a tongue-in-cheek look at the state of web design and explore different creative mindsets

What can designers do to stand out on the web, and how difficult is selling 'different' to the client?
EB: The easiest thing that anyone can do to stand out on the web is to look at their own content, and it’s a shame that too few of us are willing to invest in it. 

When we talk about being different, we often think about unnecessary animation, cumbersome layouts and over the top effects. But there’s a lot to be said for just daring to have a personality and making low-risk decisions that set us a part. 

Of course, it takes a skilled designer to convince a client that a single, beautifully typeset, well written statement can replace their imagined full screen carousel of corporate messaging.

The ONiA orthodontists website is fun and friendly

What are some of your favourite sites you have seen lately? What do they do well?
EB: The Outline has caught my attention from both a content and design perspective. In a way, it's pioneering the online magazine experience, but with very light touches. Nothing feels radically different or novel for the sake of novelty, yet the design and writing combine in a distinct voice that is now a staple in my reading diet. 

Zendesk also made ripples with its new corporate identity, and it’s obvious it had digital media in mind when it designed it. The logo elements really come to life in the icons and illustrations on the website, which retains the playful personality of the old Zendesk while heading down a completely different visual direction.

If those are too old for ‘lately’ (as both launched in 2016), Australian designer Kylie Timpani of Humaan just shared her latest work for ONiA orthodontists that, in its own small way, redefines the image of orthodontics with a very well considered and consistent implementation of a friendly brand. Never has repositioning of teeth looked so inviting!

What can people expect to take away from your talk at Generate London? EB: Casual blasphemy and poop jokes. Among other things.

Generate London, taking place on 21 and 22 September in the Royal Institution, will feature 16 great presentations for web and UX designers and is preceded by a full day of workshops on 20 September. Don't miss the opportunity to learn from the likes of Steve Fisher, Leonie Watson, Anton & Irene, Zell Liew, Aaron Gustafson and many more. Reserve your spot today!

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Jun 282017

To work in marketing, you must be able to market yourself. So for marketing executives and agencies, a business card design has to work even harder than usual, as it acts very much like a shop window for their services.  

In this post, we round up some of our favourite business card designs for marketing pros, to give you a few ideas and to inspire your own business card projects.

01. Casta

Beautifully surreal business cards for marketing firm Casta

Who said business cards have to be geometrically perfect? These monochrome cards designed in-house at Portguese marketing company Casta come with a beautifully unique design on textured paper. There's no chance of these striking designs getting lost in the pile!

02. Hoofd&Letters

This letterpress for a Dutch marketing company shows the two sides to its personality

Hoofd&Letters is a Dutch marketing and communication company whose name is Dutch for ‘Head and Letters’. The name symbolises the balance between emotion and reason, and this concept is echoed in the design of its business cards, which combine hand-drawn typography with a sleek sans-serif typeface. Designed by Rens Dekker, these letterpress cards were printed on custom triplex mounted Colorplan paper from GF Smith, by Dutch printing firm Exclusieve Visitekaartjes.

03. LongGrass Marketing

We love this letterpress card for Canadian marketing consultancy LongGrass

These stunning letterpress business cards for Canadian firm LongGrass Marketing Inc were printed double-sided in two ink colours on duplex white cotton stock. They were designed by Aileen Fretz at Livework Media and printed by We Do Printing.

04. Tactic Marketing

Clever halftone designs give a unique look to Tactic Marketing’s business cards

Indianapolis agency Tactic Marketing wanted a unique look for its letterpress business cards, and it certainly found it with this loose halftone style. The coarse dot pattern means its employees’ headshots just look like an abstract pattern up close, while at a distance they come into focus as a crisp headshot. It just goes to show how effective and memorable business cards can be when you go out of your way to make your designs stand out.

05. Bazooka

There’s an eye-catching look to Bazooka’s war-themed business cards

Bazooka is a Portuguese agency involved in what it calls “guerilla marketing”. Created in-house for a self-promo, these eye-catching business cards play on that concept, by featuring a ‘war game’ on the flipside: a navy-themed battle puzzle.

06. Ivelin Brachev

Upbeat colours and a fun design make these business cards ones you’ll want to keep

Ivelin Brachev is a Bulgarian business and marketing consultant, and while that might not be the sexiest job title on the planet, these cool business cards make up for it. The clever paper envelope-style designs were created by Kristina Miletieva.

07. Context MG

Dots represent noise in this subtly clever design for Context MG

Context MG was a small marketing company based in Michigan faced with a tough question: there is so much noise out there, how do you stand out? These cool cards, designed by Kate Disbro, took that idea and ran with it. With a Domtar 120lb cover and dull varnish, they were printed at Holland Litho in Zeeland, Michigan.

08. Latona

A business card that folds into a bouquet – genius!

Latona Marketing is a company based in Shizuoka, Japan. Designed in-house, these clever business cards fold into the shape of a bouquet. It’s a simple idea, beautifully executed, and draws nicely on the Japanese love of paper folding. 

Jun 272017

Sketching a five-minute pose is a lot of fun because it offers just enough time to capture a strong sense of the pose, but not enough time to overwork (or overthink) the drawing. Keeping things simple and being economical is a recurring theme throughout the five-minute process.

The main thing to remember for a successful quick pose is to keep the gist of the subject, so we'll build it up bit by bit, adding tone right at the end. Let's get started!

01. Construct the torso

Use simple forms to sketch out the torso

Once the gesture is established, separate the torso into rib cage, abdomen and hips. Then, indicate the openings for the limbs. Next, group the muscles using simple forms. Finally, suggest planes to give the torso structure.

02. Define the limbs

Cross-sections and ovals add form to your limbs

Start the limbs as long, tapering rectangular shapes that flow from the torso down to the fingers or toes. Next, add cross-sections to indicate their position and direction of movement. Finally, use simple ovals to add muscles and indicate kneecaps and elbows.

03. Simplify the anatomy

Group the upper-back muscles into simple forms

Starting with the torso, group the upper-back muscles (which surround the shoulder) into simple forms. Where visible, emphasise hip bones, knees and elbows. Finally, emphasise the parts where muscles overlap, as this creates the illusion of more detail and brings the drawing to life.

04. Begin the head

Get the head's tilt and rotation right

For quick head sketches, begin with the gesture and outer shape, making sure the tilt and rotation is correct. Next, add the major planes, such as the side of the head and brow. Finally, add in the features and define the neck muscles.

05. Sketch the hands

Start hands off as a simple shape, then refine them

Hands can be complex, so start with either a box or oval shape, depending on how the fingers are arranged. Next, refine the shape, but keep the fingers grouped. To finish, separate the forefinger and thumb, or any finger necessary to make the hand come to life.

06. Sketch the feet

Again, simplify the feet and build up shape

The feet are fairly easily to simplify since the toes are short and clustered together. Start with a triangle shape to capture the gesture, making sure to emphasise the contact point. Next, refine the ankle and shape of the grouped toes. Finally, separate the big toe, or any other toes as needed.

07. Exaggerate overlaps in side view poses

Limbs are great for creating overlaps

In a side view, much of the figure is hidden. To make the drawing work, emphasise and exaggerate overlaps. When available, the limbs are also great tools for creating overlaps at the torso. For more depth, exaggerate the top layers of anatomy, such as the shoulder muscles and hip bones.

08. Use overlaps in foreshortened poses

Emphasise overlaps for foreshortened poses

Similar to a side view, emphasise overlaps for foreshortened poses. If the torso is moving away, emphasise the overlap of the hips and abdomen. If the torso is coming toward you, use the rib cage and anatomy to create overlaps. If visible, the limbs drawn with good cross-sections can also create depth.

09. Focus on contact points in reclining poses

Make reclining poses look natural by emphasising contact points

For reclining and seated poses, you can exaggerate the anatomy that makes contact with the surface. When visible, emphasise the hands making contact by adding more detail at the fingers and wrist.

10. Add tone

Smart toning will bring your figure drawing to life

If the lighting is good, finish your sketch with tone. One way to do this is by blocking in the shadow and filling in the shape with a suitable tone.

This article originally appeared in Paint & Draw issue 6; buy it here!

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Jun 272017

Storyboarding can help you to solve a multitude of problems. It's a great method that enables Studio AKA – and many other creatives – to work with stories that lack clarity and structure, or concepts that need upending in order to work. 

If you need to tell stories for any kind of commercial work, try storyboarding by following these tips.

01. Get your story ideas onto paper

Starting a storyboard is never easy – all those blank panels! The solution is not to work on one neat sheet of paper. Use small Post-It notes and scribble loads of quick, rough thumbnail ideas. Get all the ideas out of your head in any order you like. Don't feel that you have to just start at the beginning and work forwards.

02. Cut and shuffle ideas into storyboard panels

Storyboard panels from The Girl & the Cloud, produced by Studio AKA and Red Knuckles

When you have a bunch of images that are making sense, re-sequence them and discard as many as possible. Move it all about until it feels coherent and in balance. You can do all this with stick figures, then replace everything with your character drawings once you know what you are doing, working back into the gaps any visual embellishments that reinforce the story.

03. Don't linger on the opening sequence

One of the most common mistakes with storyboards is creating opening sequences that drag on, eating up panels with establishing shots. Your aim should be to establish a crisp, clear cadence from the outset. You can always turn that single opening panel drawing into a three-minute tracking shot at a later stage.

04. Keep things flexible

The final shot of The Girl & the Cloud, art directed by Amandine Pecharman

Try not to lock yourself down at the outset. Some animation directors write in sketches, while others sketch in writing. The storyboarding can start as rough cut and paste, with working boards brought to completion by a process of distillation. Everything should remain open to question up until it's decision time.

05. Embrace random ideas

Don't get bogged down in process when it comes to inspiration. If you purge yourself of every single random idea you can, at some point the good stuff will make itself known to you and find its place in the storyboard. Then sleep on it and reconsider it all the next day.

06. Explore character narratives

Part of a storyboard done by Mélanie Ballairgé at Pictoplasma Academy 2014

Working with sequential or character narratives can be challenging. Try a few exercises to help, such as working through four-, nine-, 12- and 24-panel storyboards, each structured around different character narratives or rules.

07. Make every frame count

Creating storyboards within restricted panel allowances pushes an artist to make every frame count. When every drawing must justify its inclusion, being able to distil a story into a small number of key frames is liberating. That refined 'spine' can then be elaborated into a more complex narrative. Set yourself challenges or ask someone else to set you a challenge to see where you end up.

Mélanie Ballairgé's Emerged developed from her initial storyboard

08. Define your characters

An exercise by Andrea López and Gabriela Rodriguez at Pictoplasma Academy 2016

To tell any story, you need to understand your character. One way to do this is to ask the basic questions a scriptwriter always asks, such as: Who is your character? What do they want? What do they do to get what they want? What do they achieve in the end? You might also try defining this in another nine- or 12-panel board as the act of visualising those answers really forces you to examine your character.

09. Think beyond what's on the page

The surface of a character is described in line or shape on the page, but what really lies within the drawing is given focus by our willingness to engage with what that character can emote and convey. Story, design and biography all influence how a character rises beyond mere mark-making and becomes real to us. 

10. Embrace feedback

An early storyboard for The Girl & The Cloud

It is always easier to know what is amiss with other people's work than your own, and sometimes giving feedback to others can help you think about your own project in a new way. Vice versa, ask others to give you feedback and try to take criticism in a constructive manner, thinking about how you can channel these comments into your character and story to make it better. Even if you don't agree with their suggestions, it's still a good idea to try them out – you might be surprised at the outcome! 

This article originally appeared in Computer Arts issue 265. Buy it here!

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Jun 272017

Thanks to its powerful painting tools and workflow features, Corel Painter has become one of the key players on the digital art scene. Part of its appeal is that the software's passionate user base actively feeds into the development of the program.

Today's launch of Painter 2018 is no exception, with the digital art studio revealing a range of amazing new and enhanced tools that bridge the gap between traditional and digital art. Aimed at everyone from concept artists to illustrators, as well as fine artists and photo artists, Painter 18 promises to be a vital asset to creators of all levels.

Thick Paint tool

The headline feature of Corel Painter 2018 is the new Thick Paint tool. Building on the software's already famous collection of painting tools and brushes, Thick Paint pushes the envelope by accurately mimicking the look and feel of viscous paint. The result is a tool that allows you to build up large volumes of paint that behave just like the real thing.

Create true to life paint layers with Thick Paint

Thanks to a range of brushes and palette knives that accompany Thick Paint, you can blend, build up, push, pull and scrape the paint just like you would on a canvas. The pressure of the stylus accurately imitates your tool of choice and allows you to create ridges of paint that pop thanks to shadows in the canyons of the stroke.

Elements of 3D functionality are one of the stand-out updates to Painter. While it doesn't deliver a total 3D modelling experience, the software does give you the opportunity to play around with shadow strength and ambient lighting to create a sense of depth in the brushstrokes. Combine this with adjustable paper texture and an array of realistic painting opportunities have just become available to digital artists.

Thick Texture Brushes

Craggy terrain will benefit from the Thick Texture Brushes

Texture Painting has long been a popular tool on Corel's Painter as it gives you the chance to create work that looks like it's leaping off the screen. As part of the latest update, Painter 2018 has taken this tool to a whole new level.

With the new 2.5 Thick Texture brushes, you can now apply strokes that look tactile and loaded with depth. This is perfect for creating surfaces that rely on depth to communicate their texture in a way that's true to life. And thanks to adjustable directional lighting, you can amplify textural depth to your heart's desire.

Natural-Media brush library

This artwork by Deborah Kolesar showcases the power of the Natural-Media brush library

One of the biggest ways Painter 2018 will help you transition from creating traditional to digital art is through the new Natural-Media brush library. This library delivers digital brush effects that reproduce everything from pencils and pastels, to oils and pastels, plus a whole lot more. Chances are, if you've got a traditional tool in mind, you'll be able to find a digital equivalent in this library.

Selection Brush tools

As well as improving how artwork looks, Painter 2018 also upgrades how you work. Thanks to the Selection Brush tools, you can save time by creating a selection just as easily and precisely as applying a brushstroke. By displaying a colour overlay as you lay down a stroke, you can easily distinguish between selected and protected areas.

Texture Synthesis

The Cloning workflow has been updated in Corel Painter 2018

By capturing and synthesising selected areas of a textured piece of artwork, the Texture Synthesis tool gives you the opportunity to reproduce the elements on a larger scale. By randomising the properties of the texture, you can then paint with a brush that is loaded with the same settings.

Rounding off the update to Painter are a set of enhancements to pre-existing tools. These include improvements to the Drip and Liquid Brush technologies, plus an upgrade to the Cloning workflow.

Corel Painter 2018 is available to new users for £359.99, or as an upgrade for £179.99. For full details of all of the tools and ways to buy, be sure to head over to the Corel Painter 2018 homepage.

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