Special to Motorburg.com
Creating a three color T-shirt design with Paintbrushes and 3D effects in Adobe Illustrator
by Ger Peters
(This is a six-page tutorial. Please follow the navigation at the end of each page to view the next.)
In this tutorial, Ger will be showing you how he uses the Paintbrush Tool and the 3D Effects in Adobe Illustrator to create a simple piece of three-color T-shirt artwork. He’ll show you how to use the brush tool to ‘ink’ a pencil sketch and the 3D effect to create somewhat convincing flying flags with logos.
While a lot of people use Illustrator, it seems that both the brushes and 3D effects are widely neglected by most: It’s as if most users never ‘grab’ beyond their trusted pen tool… But both features, especially the brushes, provide great opportunities to come up with vector artwork with a bit more of a hand-drawn flair.
Ger will be using an actual project he did for Firebird Raceway of Boise, Idaho as a basis for the tutorial. He’s been doing artwork for this particular client for several years and knows the general course of their projects, and the way they will use the artwork. So, lets get down to it, as Ger briefs us on the project and then shows us how-to – from beginning to end ~
2. Project briefing
The client was looking for T-shirt artwork for their annual “Oldies But Goodies Drags” nostalgia race event. The shirts would be freebie giveaways to the participants in the race: For budgetary reasons, the number of colors to be used was limited to three.
They supplied a photograph of the style of car they had in mind for this year’s design; It was Jim Lytle’s famous “Big Al” ‘34 Ford Tudor race car of the early 1960’s. The picture showed the car with the heavily chopped fiberglass “flopper” body that Big Al became famous for. The driver’s position was actually in the back seat as there was a 6-foot-long Allison V-12 P-38 aircraft engine stuffed into the car – hence the name “Big Al”. The client suggested that I’d draw the car with a little less chop than in the picture and at the moment of launch, lifting the front wheels off the ground. They also supplied a couple of sponsor logos to include into the design with the stipulation of trying to make the addition of the logos look not too much like an “afterthought”…
There just so happened to be a story on Big Al in the November 2009 issue of Hot Rod Deluxe Magazine. It featured a tiny vintage photograph by an unknown photographer of Big Al racing at Lions Drag Strip in 1963. It showed the car in an early guise, back when it still had a steel body instead of the flopper body and with less of a chopped roof. Even though the car had all four wheels on the track, I thought it would still make for a good reference photo for my drawing. The client seemed to prefer a more or less realistic style for the drawing so I decided to do a pretty accurate representation of the photograph, but alter it a bit with a wheel-stand and a driver and some other changes of my own.
To integrate the sponsor logos into the design, I came up with the idea of adding flags for the background: Besides providing a ‘natural’ space to put the logos, the flagpoles would have the additional benefit of granting the design some extra ‘body’ since the car by itself was pretty low. The challenge would be to have the sponsor logos arch along the curves of the flying flags in a nice way.
I repeated some design elements from the shirt designs that I had done for previous Oldies Drags events and did a quick sketch for the overall outline of the piece; just a small thumbnail really to capture the basic idea:
Now I needed a larger, more refined sketch to present the idea to the client. So I started a more detailed outline as a rough draft and I e-mailed that to the client: They thought it looked good so far and gave me the green light to carry on. The rough draft will double as a template for my final artwork.