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Process: Design Triple Crown

March 5, 2012

So, I invented a pretty inefficient way to illustrate something, which I like to call the Design Triple Crown. I use this method when I want something bright and cartoonish, but not too flat/vectory.

Additional benefits to using the DTC method is stumbling to answer the question “how did you make that, is that vector?” (Answer: “err…kinda?”) and probably winning some kind of “Best Consumer” award from Adobe.

Step 1:
Kentucky Derby / Illustrator

I start by drawing the basic characters in Illustrator.

What I ultimately want is a vector feel with some lighting effects, so I have added in some of the lighting here in AI. You certainly could skip this entire step and draw your characters right in Photoshop with shape layers instead, but I usually don’t think of that until I’m too far along in Illustrator to start over in Photoshop.

When I get everything drawn out, it looks like this. But since this looks kind of weird, it’s on to:

Step 2:
Preakness / Photoshop

I import the different elements I want to manipulate onto different layers in Photoshop; the background, cows, ship and beams of light are all separated now, and ready for glows and Gaussian blurs and gradients and any other filters my designy little heart desires.

If you wanted to add textures to things, like to make it look like your cows are made out of cut paper or carved out of pineapples or something, here would be the place to do it.

I realize many of these effects are doable in Illustrator, but as with doing things backwards in Step 1, I find them easier to monitor and manipulate in PS. My hat’s off to those of you who can have 10,000 objects/effects/clipping paths on one layer in Illustrator and not go crazy.

Step 3:
Belmont / InDesign

Text time! An old boss of mine used to always scold me when I’d do my text in Photoshop, so here we are in InDesign.

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations, you have won the Design Triple Crown! Treat yourself to a mint julep or three.


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