Post-photography, our next unit covered digital illustration. Unlike photography, I have a solid foundation in drawing, especially of the digital kind. Most of my free time in high school was dedicated to drawing on the computer, however much of that stopped when I graduated, so I was excited to find out we would be covering it as a part of our course. It’s always been something I enjoyed doing, I just never had enough time to dedicate to it or the motivation to commit, so being able to practice for class was like a dream come true. We were required to produce three standalone images for assessment with as much variety or similarity as we liked. I took the opportunity to demonstrate three different styles focusing on different techniques, in different programs and inspired by some of my favourite artists: Punziella, Amei Zhao and Marti Serra.
The first artist whose style I wanted to emulate was Punziella. Her style features minimalistic colour with a beautiful flat colouring style which lead me to identify the key element of her style: shape. In order to achieve Punziella’s style, deciding on a strong composition and silhouette for my figure was pivotal. Shading also had to be kept to a minimum and utilise convincing flat shapes to produce the same impression as natural shadows. My own style often uses messy brushstrokes as a key element so reducing that to flat shapes was a massive challenge to me but I am pleased with what I have produced, and I learned a lot about silhouette and shape creation as a result. My first image was created in Adobe Photoshop.
Amei Zhao is an artist who I have been following for ages and has always inspired me, to the extent that much of my own style has been influenced by her. Her scenes are always very organic with a clever mix of manmade structural elements that bring a lot of visual interest to her pieces. However the main thing that grabs me about Zhao’s artworks is her use of lighting: her art often features hard light with an ethereal glow that can only be achieved in the digital medium, and it always adds such warmth and dynamism to her images. I have struggled to achieve this balance of lighting in the past despite knowing the theory behind it (ie. using a hard light layer on program of your choice), so I did a bit more research and found that often the shadows are more important than the light itself. I used this knowledge to compete my second image in ClipStudio, where I have finally satisfied myself with creating dramatic lighting.
The third artist I took inspiration from was designer Marti Serra, who predominantly uses Photoshop and Illustrator to produce vivid, dynamic illustrations. Serra’s use of colour is the main thing that grabs me in his illustrations, but what amazes me more is the way he manipulates Illustrator’s tools to create images that are not what you’d expect of Illustrator, since Illustrator artworks generally feature flat colours with minimalistic shading. He appears to achieve this through clever use of gradients, and so that is what I decided to experiment with in my third image. Overall I love how much dimension this technique added to my artwork and feel like I really extended my Illustrator skills as a result.