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love art. As soon as my pencil hits the paper, I’m lost in my own world. I don’t need to eat; I don’t need to sleep. Nothing gets me more excited than the thought of painting giant murals in my future house, or starting my own brand of designer guitars. There’s so much to explore in the world of art: illustration, graphic design, animation, sculpture, fashion design, architecture, film-making, advertising, industrial design... I just wish I could do everything! This book is a collection of some of my favorite pieces, from pencil drawings to painted bags, Sharpie illustrations to digital photography... In between you’ll also find famous celebrities, race cars, anime characters, dragons, fierce bearcats and even the philosopher John Locke. At the very end you’ll find a couple of step-by-step tutorials of how I draw, paint, or design things, information about my tools, and where to find more of my work online. My parents think I’m crazy for squeezing out hours and hours of free time to do art requests — be it a portrait of someone’s favorite celebrity, a poster for a club event, or a logo design for a sports team. I do it because making artwork for others is so much more fulfilling than just drawing something for myself. My biggest motivation is to see my artwork become useful and directly impact other people’s lives. When people express their joy, amazement, or admiration, it makes me happy, motivating me to work harder. Thank you so much to my family, friends, teachers, classmates, and all those who support and cheer me on. You guys are the fuel that light my passion. This book is dedicated to you. Enjoy! — Vivian Xiao


Table of Contents




guitar design






graphic Design




digital painting


design tutorial

drawing Tutorial

Digital photography


portrait Tutorial


Painting tutorial



Pencil P

encil is one of the most basic yet diverse mediums in art. I use pencil for everything, from doodles and rough sketches, to portraits and still life. With just one pencil, I can achieve a wide variety of shapes, textures, and tones, which is why I love it so much.

SUM MER SKETC H I NG Here are a few pieces I sketched at my summer art classes. They are all drawn from still life: a large marble statue of a girl, a typewriter taken apart, and two animal figures. Each drawing took a couple of days to finish, using a range of graphite pencils from 2H to 6B.

“VIX Variation” (cover), cover design, mixed media (Sharpie on laptop cover and Adobe Photoshop CS5), Summer 2012. “Koi” (inside cover), laptop design, Sharpie on laptop, 33cm x 24cm, Fall 2012.


“Portrait of a Girl”, traditional drawing, graphite pencil on paper, 50cm x 75cm, Summer 2011. “Typewriter”, traditional drawing, graphite pencil on paper, 50cm x 36cm, Summer 2012, 18 hours. “Bird and Rabbit”, traditional drawing, graphite pencil on paper, 55cm x 80cm, Summer 2012, 24 hours.


C E L E B R I T Y P ORT R A I T S Sometimes I draw celebrity portraits as birthday presents for my friends. I’ve always loved the idea of making personalized, unique gifts. Instead of buying a generic birthday present, I’ll draw or make something for them. I draw these celebrity portraits using reference photos found on the internet, although I hope that someday I’ll meet a celebrity in real life! “Ellen Page”, pencil on paper, 20cm x 30cm, Fall 2010. “Wang Li Hong”, birthday present, pencil on paper, 20cm x 30cm, Fall 2010. “Lady Gaga”, pencil on paper, 20cm x 30cm, Fall 2010.



These two Batman pieces were done with a mechanical pencil, so that I could draw all the tiny details and highlights. They are also relatively small compared to my other pieces. If you would like to see the step-by-step process for drawing the Tumbler, please to the back of the book. “The Batman” (The Dark Knight Rises), pencil on paper, 16cm x 18cm, Summer 2012, five hours. “The Tumbler (Batmobile)” (The Dark Knight), pencil on paper, 24cm x 12cm, Summer 2012, 10 hours.




“Eminem”, birthday present, mixed media (pencil on paper, Adobe Photoshop CS5), 20cm x 30cm, Summer 2011. The background features lyrics from Eminem’s songs. “Zooey Deschanel”, color pencil on paper, 30cm x 20cm, Summer 2011, four hours. “Avril Lavigne”, birthday present, color pencil on paper, 30cm x 20cm, Spring 2011, four hours. “Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr)”, gift for friend, mixed media (pencil on paper, Adobe Photoshop CS5), 20cm x 20cm, Summer 2012. The step-by-step tutorial for this drawing is at the back of the book.




he front design of my guitar is a collage of four elements: a wave of water, a dragon breathing fire, clouds floating in the air, and mother nature (earth) watching from above. The square symbol in the upper-left is my personal symbol, consisting of my initials held between boxes to form ‘VIX’, my nickname. The Japanese wave was inspired by the The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai. The dragon and ‘lucky clouds’ are both symbolic images from China, which I rendered in a paper-cut-like style. The two birds flying away from the tree represent flight and freedom. The quote on the right side says, “Do what you love, fortune will follow”, a quote to remind myself to be passionate and live life to the fullest.


The back design of the guitar features a phoenix. The phoenix is considered to be the companion (in terms of Yin and Yang) of the dragon in Chinese mythology. The decorative floral, wing, and ribbon designs were inspired by the artwork of Julie Hill.

I L LU ST R AT ION P RO C E S S I started by drawing a rough under-sketch using a light gray marker. The trick with permanent markers is that you can easily erase marks by running another layer on top and wiping it off. That way, I did not have to worry about making a mistake. The next step was the black lineart, switching between a thin pen for small lines and details, and a thicker pen for filling in areas to add contrast. I added more patterns while I drew. Finally, I colored in the designs. Because I had a limited choice of colors, I blended certain colors together to make them lighter or darker. I used a slightly different method for drawing the back design of my guitar. The back is more three-dimensional compared to the flat, evenly colored designs on the front. On the back side I also blended colors, but used them to create shadows and highlights. I also added more variation in the thickness of lines.

“Guitar�, Sharpie permanent markers on guitar, Fall 2011, 15 hours.




THE GHIBLI GUITAR This guitar design was made as a gift for my friend. It was inspired by the works of Studio Ghibli. The bottom left features goldfish and the goldfish princess from Ponyo. To the right of them sits the bathhouse temple from Spirited Away, with Haku the dragon flying above. On the bottom right is Howl’s castle and his wing (from Howl’s Moving Castle), and below are the forest spirits from Princess Mononoke. Above them hang the tree roots from Laputa: Castle in the Sky.

ILLUSTR ATION PRO CESS In this design, I used a ‘wash’ technique to tune down the intensity of different colors. After applying the base color, I took a light marker and erased darker colors to leave a lighter, transparent version of the dark color. That way, the many different colors in the design could work together in harmony. You can watch part of the drawing process online here:

“Ghibli Guitar”, birthday present for a friend, Sharpie permanent markers on guitar, Spring 2012.



Ballpoint B

allpoint pen is one of my favorite mediums. I love the crisp lines of varying thicknesses, the solid shades of dark color, as well as the in-between tones of cross-hatching. I also happen to have stashes of ballpoint pens lying around (mainly collected from hotels), so it’s a cheap, light, and accessible tool! Ballpoint pen also survives the scanning process much better than pencil does. After scanning a ballpoint piece, I can add colors, gradients and textures in Photoshop.

A SE R I ES OF U N F ORT U NAT E EVENT S The illustration of “A Series of Unfortunate Events” (opposite page) was inspired by the book series by Lemony Snicket, as well as the illustrations by Brett Helquist. The Baudelaire children are caught amidst a series of unfortunate events (represented by symbolic items from the book series). They are also trapped on all sides by the sinister Count Olaf and the mystery of the fire that destroyed their home. “Full Moon wo Shagashite”, mixed media (ballpoint pen on paper and Adobe Photoshop CS5), 20cm x 30cm, Fall 2010. “Nagisa and Tomoya” (Clannad), mixed media (ballpoint pen on paper and Adobe Photoshop CS5), 20cm x 30cm, Winter 2010. “A Series of Unfortunate Events”, mixed media (ballpoint pen on paper and Adobe Photoshop CS5), 25cm x 25cm, Summer 2011. 18


“Lelouch vi Britannia” (Code Geass), mixed media (ballpoint pen on paper and Adobe Photoshop CS5), Fall 2010. “Nunnally” (Code Geass), mixed media (ballpoint pen on paper and Adobe Photoshop CS5), 15cm x 10cm, Fall 2010, three hours. “Saber” (Fate/Zero), ballpoint pen on paper, 30cm x 20cm, Summer 2012, 12 hours.




ost artists have mastered gouache, watercolor, and oil painting, but I love painting with acrylics. Acrylic is permanent and can be painted on almost any surface. So far I’ve painted on big banners, canvas, bags, wallets, binders, window blinds, shoes, and eye glass cases, but there really are no limits to what else I could paint!

C A N VAS BAG S Here are a few canvas bags that I’ve painted. I love turning simple, ordinary things into something unique and personal; most of the bags I’ve painted are either free or cost under 10 RMB, or about 1 US dollar.

“Wings”, acrylic paint on canvas bag, 40cm x 50cm, Summer 2011. “Sunbirds”, Pebeo textile paint on canvas bag, 40cm x 35cm, Summer 2012. “Phoenix”, acrylic paint on canvas bag, 40cm x 35cm, Spring 2012.



T H E M AS Q U E R A DE BA N N E R This was a banner design for a middle school dance, themed ‘The Masquerade’. It was the first time I painted anything on a canvas larger than myself. The original design was done in ballpoint pen, then scanned into the computer for color. The final painting was done on a three meter long piece of paper.

S C I E NC E M U R A L BA N N E R On the right is an even bigger painting, spanning across three separate window blinds of a science classroom. The design was requested by my 8th Grade science teacher. I created the original design using Photoshop, then painted it onto the window blinds using acrylic paint. While the larger images symbolize different topics in science, the background patterns also resemble the common patterns of cell structure and ‘particles’ in science.

“Masquerade”, acrylic on paper, banner for Middle School dance, 300cm x 100cm, Fall 2009, eight hours (and a painting crew).


“Science Mural”, acrylic on window blinds, for a science classroom at the International School of Beijing, Spring 2012.



first discovered graphic design when I was ten years old, on an online virtual pet game called Neopets. Through the world of avatars, forums, pet pages and guilds, I taught myself many useful skills in graphic and web design. I learned HTML from online tutorials to customize my web pages. While other girls bought pretty princess dresses or plastic high heels, HTML and Microsoft Paint were my accessories. I was fascinated by the magic of the internet, where I could make almost anything for free! I would make simple graphics with Microsoft’s Paint or Powerpoint, then incorporate them into the website’s layout design. I filled my pages with customized scrolling text boxes, navigational links, and linked banners. Soon I was making multiple accounts, just so that I could create more free websites. Later on I discovered Photoshop (a magical tool!), and stumbled upon the world of fonts and brushes. I started playing around, learning from online tutorials, asking questions in forums, and downloading free resources online.


THE GREENKEEPERS LOGO The logo above is the first of my many designs for school clubs and activities. It is the logo of ‘Greenkeepers’, a student-run environmental club. The shape at the center is half flame and half a leaf or tree. The green and blue circle represents the earth, in which a flame is burning, and also represents an orb protecting nature. The two smaller designs are the previous concepts for the logo. The first one illustrates the concept for the logo much more literally. However, I liked the simplistic style of the second design, and decided to keep the same elements of the first but strip it down to achieve a similar minimalist style. “Greenkeepers Logo”, logo design for Greenkeepers, Adobe Photoshop CS5, Winter 2009. “Art Club”, poster design for Hotchkiss Art Club, Adobe Photoshop CS5, Winter 2011. “Stir-fry Competition” (p37), poster design for Chinese Club, Adobe Photoshop CS5, Spring 2012. You can see the step-by-step tutorial at the back of the book.



G R A P H I C DE SI G N C OM M I S SI ON S I enjoy creating logos, posters, leaflets, and websites for clubs. Even though I don’t have enough time to join every single club that I’m interested in, I can still make a contribution with my art. Working for others has also taught me valuable skills in communicating with clients, meeting customer demands, and managing tight deadlines — especially when juggling multiple projects on top of my academic work. “Hotchkiss Waterpolo”, waterpolo uniform design for Varsity Waterpolo, Adobe Photoshop CS5, Summer 2012. “Hotchkiss Ultimate Frisbee”, cap design for Varsity Ultimate Frisbee, Adobe Photoshop CS5, Spring 2012. “Hotchkiss Lookbook Logo”, logo design for the Hotchkiss Lookbook, Adobe Photoshop CS5, Fall 2012.


“INKredible”, cover design for the INKredible Magazine, Adobe Photoshop CS5 and Adobe InDesign CS5, Fall 2012. “Songs for Smiles”, poster design for Songs for Smiles Charity Concert (Songs for Smiles Club), Adobe Photoshop CS5, Spring 2012. “Chinese New Year at Hotchkiss”, poster design for Chinese New Year (Chinese Club), mixed media (pencil on paper and Adobe Photoshop CS5), Winter 2011.


“Art Club” poster design for Hotchkiss Art Club, Adobe Photoshop CS5, Winter 2011. “Hotchkiss Film Festival 2012”, poster design for Hotchkiss Film Festival 2012 (Hotchkiss Television Club), Adobe Photoshop CS5, Spring 2012. “Hotchkiss Film Festival 2013”, poster design for Hotchkiss Film Festival 2013 (Hotchkiss Television Club), Adobe Photoshop CS5, Fall 2012.


T H E WOR L D AT H OTC H K I S S This t-shirt design shows a circle of flags surrounding a silhouette of our school’s logo. The logo is made up of the names of all the countries that students at Hotchkiss represent.

JOH N L O C K E’ S S O C I E T Y On the opposite page is a mind map that I created for a philosophy presentation. We had to create our own society based on the ideas of John Locke. After drawing out the mind map, I loaded it into an online application called Prezi, which allows you to draw paths and frames to create a ‘zooming’ presentation.

“The World at Hotchkiss”, t-shirt design for international students, Adobe Photoshop CS5, Summer 2012. “John Locke: The Island Society” (http://prezi. com/tty6q0ioihr1/john-locke/), Prezintation for philosophy class, Adobe Photoshop CS5 and Prezi, Winter 2011.




fter digital design came digital painting. I bought a graphic tablet (Wacom Bamboo Pen Tablet), which allows you to use a pen as your mouse. It can also detect pen pressure, and more advanced graphic tablets can detect tilt angles, or display your drawing on the tablet itself. I love painting digitally - it’s clean, fast, and you can achieve stunning effects. I’ve also started recording my painting process’ to make short videos of my paintings from start to finish.

“Chihiro and Haku” (Spirited Away), Adobe Photoshop CS5, Summer 2010. “Self Portrait”, Adobe Photoshop CS5, Fall 2011, five hours. “Self Portrait - Purple”, Adobe Photoshop CS5, Winter 2011.



“Self Portrait - Pink”, Adobe Photoshop CS5, Winter 2011. “Self Portrait - Phoenix”, Adobe Photoshop CS5, Winter 2011, five hours. “Self Portrait - Fall”, Adobe Photoshop CS5, Fall 2012.


“Katniss” (The Hunger Games), Adobe Photoshop CS5, Spring 2012. “The Joker” (The Dark Knight), Adobe Photoshop CS5, Fall 2011, three hours. “Darren Criss”, Adobe Photoshop CS5, Fall 2011.



“Rapunzel” (Tangled), Adobe Photoshop CS5, Spring 2012, three hours. You can see the step-by-step tutorial at the back of the book “Summer Reading”, Adobe Photoshop CS5, Summer 2012. “Stitch”, Adobe Photoshop CS5, Fall 2010, one hour. “Scarlett”, Adobe Photoshop CS5, Winter 2011. 39

Digital Photography



igital photography has always been one of my hobbies, along with traveling. I was given my first digital camera in elementary school. Since then, I keep my camera beside me whenever I travel, taking snapshots of beautiful scenery, city life, culture, and whatever interests me. Now I have my own DSLR camera and I enjoy taking it out for a walk around my beautiful school campus. “Motorcycle”, Canon EOS 30D, Spring 2012. “Edinburgh”, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Summer 2012. “Lake Wononscopomuc”, Canon EOS 30D, Spring 2012.


“Starburst”, Canon EOS 30D, Winter 2011. “Dandelions”, Canon EOS 30D, Winter 2011. 42

“Garland and Van Santvoord”, Canon EOS 30D, Winter 2011. “Red”, Canon EOS 30D, Spring 2012. 43

T H E P ON D These are photos I took down at the pond at my school. I love visiting this pond, and doing random things like chasing geese, spying on birds, or just listening to the nature all around me. It’s the complete opposite of the bustling city life that I’ve grown up in. It’s really an amazing place!


“Pond Series”, Canon EOS 30D, Spring 2012.


T H E L ake Lake Wononscopomuc (pronounced wa-non-ska-po-muck, or something similar to that) is about a five minute walk from my dormitory, and it’s also one of the most beautiful places to be, especially in the fall and spring.


“Hotchkiss Lake Series” (Lake Wononscopumuc), Canon EOS 30D, Fall 2012.


“Hotchkiss Woods Series”, Canon EOS 30D, Fall 2012.



Drawing the tumbler 50

1. FINDING A REFERENCE Find a reference picture so that you know how to draw all the details, or just to get more inspiration. It is useful to find a nice, large, high quality image. You can either print it out or keep it on your screen.

2. Defining the limits Next, lightly sketch out the position of your subject. Draw limit lines for the top, bottom, left and right sides of the subject, as well as any significant geometric shapes or structures that you can see. You don’t want to be drawing for over three hours only to realize you’ve run out of space! 3. Work your way through Now, depending on the kind of drawing and final effect, you can either work through from general to specific, or from specific to general.

Working from general to specific means staying focused on the big picture and working on the entire drawing as a whole. Instead of spending hours stuck on one particular part, you should work bit by bit over the entire drawing. This method is useful for keeping balance and achieving a nice final drawing. It also helps you save time, and avoid big mistakes. Towards the end, you can start looking at specific parts, and refine the final details of the drawing. Working from specific to general means working on one part of the drawing at a time. Pick a starting point, focus all your attention on making it perfect, then move on to the next section. This method is useful for extremely detailed drawings, because you won’t miss anything. And if you work from top to bottom, left to right, you can avoid smudging your work. Once you are finished going through the first time, you can then step back and adjust different sections to make the final drawing more complete. Each drawing can be done in a different way, so decide which one works best for the drawing you want to make!

If you choose to scan your drawing, make sure you scan it at a higher resolution (I usually scan at 300 dpi), and adjust the brightness and contrast settings so that the lighter lines won’t be completely washed out. If you choose to take a photo of the drawing, try to use natural light; take the photo outside, or place it next to a window. Make sure the light does not reflect off the graphite from the pencil. Also make sure that your shadow cannot be seen on the drawing. Remember to focus on multiple points over the entire drawing. Because my drawing had a lot of detail, I decided to scan it. I also took a work-in-progress photo, and you can see how the shadows and highlights are clearer in the photo than in the scan.

5. Editing You can enhance a pencil drawing using almost any image editing software, including Photoshop, iPhoto, Microsoft Powerpoint, and hundreds of apps on your iPhone. All you need to do is to crop the image and adjust the brightness and contrast until it looks like the original drawing.

For more advanced editing, I recommend Photoshop, or if you don’t have Photoshop, you can download GIMP. You can select and edit specific areas of the drawing, add tints or textures, or fix other small mistakes. To learn more about editing techniques for pencil drawings, please read the next tutorial. Thanks for reading!

Drawing the tumbler

4. Scan vs Photo For pencil drawings and other traditional media, a scan and a photo of the same drawing can look completely different. Scans are more detailed but look more ‘flat’, while photos look closer to the original drawing but aren’t as detailed.


drawing a portrait 52

1. FINDING A REFERENCE Drawing realistically from a blurry photo can be very hard, so try to find a good quality, dynamic picture. Be sure to use the advanced search tools, such as setting the image size to large, and image type to face. You can also use google image’s ‘similar’ and ‘more sizes’ links to find better quality photos. 2. Blocking Start by blocking out the whole portrait, paying attention to the size of the hair and shoulders compared to the head. Try to draw as large as possible. Eyes are usually at the middle of the head, the nose halfway between the eyes and the chin, and the center of the mouth one third down from the nose to the chin. 3. Work from inside out Some people prefer to block out basic shades and tones before adding any details, but I like to work from the inside out. I start by drawing the eyes, which are usually the most detailed and focused part of a portrait. Then, I gradually work my way to the nose, the mouth, then the hair.

The nose should have shadows not just in the nose holes but also at the tip and the sides. The mouth usually has one dark line separating the two lips, and a dark shadow underneath the bottom lip. When drawing hair, instead of drawing each individual strand, focus on the larger blocks or ‘locks’ of hair. You can think of hair as a bunch of cylinders, curved outwards and inwards. Remember to leave out the highlights - just a few curls will do. Depending on the thickness of the curls of hair, you should increase the contrast between the shadows and highlights of the hair. Also, parts of the hair that are closer to the viewer should be more detailed, while parts that are further do not need to be so detailed. This creates the illusion of depth. 4. SCANNING You can take a photo of your finished portrait, but for best results, you should scan your image. See the previous tutorial for more tips on scanning or photographing pencil drawings. 5. Enhancing shadows and highlights Open your drawing in Photoshop (if you don’t have Photoshop, try GIMP, a free alternative). Duplicate the layer twice, setting one layer to Multiply, and the other layer to Overlay. Multiply will darken the shadows, while Overlay will bring out the highlights. Now adjust the opacity of the layers until it looks like the original drawing. You should also use the eraser tool to erase specific parts that are too dark or too bright, or use the brush to paint darker or lighter shades.

Tools you’ll need Pencil - For the best results, it’s good to have a range of pencils from 2H up to 6B (or even darker). For more detailed drawings, use a mechanical pencil. Kneaded Eraser - ‘Normal’ erasers are blunt, messy and hard to use. Get yourself a kneaded eraser. They’re also very nice to play with! Tissue - Tissue can be used for blending and blurring, but use it sparingly. Paper - Regular A4 paper is extremely thin and vulnerable, so buy paper that is thicker and denser. Photoshop (or GIMP) - Your drawing will look very different on a computer screen, but after some editing it can look a lot more like the original, or even better.

drawing a portrait

When you’re drawing the eyes, don’t draw them too big! The eyes are made up of layers of eyelids on the tip and bottom, which have thickness.


drawing a portrait 54

When you’ve finished adjusting the shadows and highlights, you can flatten the image so that everything is on one layer. Click the arrow in the top-right corner of the Layers toolbox, then select ‘Flatten Image’ in the drop down menu.

7. Fixing ‘grains’ and adding focus The drawing looks very grainy when zoomed up close. This happens when you scan drawings, because the lighting picks up every single ‘grain’ of lead attached to the paper. In a photo, these grains of lead blend together smoothly.

6. Fixing the color If you look at the close-up of my drawing, you’ll notice pixels of different colors caught by the scanner. To get rid of these colors, go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation and turn the Saturation down. Now everything should be the same color.

To get rid of the graininess, duplicate the layer, then go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Adjust the size of the blur until the drawing looks smooth - but not too much, or you’ll lose the details in the drawing. You can also lower the opacity of the blurred layer until you get the right amount of blur.

The drawing still doesn’t look good if all of it is blurry. You can add some more depth to the drawing by picking out focus points - these are specific parts that are sharper than the rest of the drawing. Usually, objects closer to the viewer should be more in focus, but you can choose which area you want to draw the viewers eye to. I like to make the eyes sharper. Using the eraser tool, erase parts of the blurred layer which you want to be sharper. I also noticed a white line running through the eyes. You can fix these marks or blemishes by using the Healing Tool.

Finally, to make your portrait have more volume, take the eraser tool and erase parts of the texture to bring back the highlights. I erased parts in the forehead, eyes, nose and lower lip.

8. Adding color and texture This step is optional, but sometimes a dark brown tint on a paper texture looks really nice for pencil drawings. I feel that this will give more of an authentic ‘Sherlock Holmes’ feel to the portrait. To add a tint, create a new layer and fill it with a color (I chose a very dark brown). Then change the layer’s blending mode to ‘Color’. To add a paper texture, first find an image of

If you want to see the step-by-step animated process, please visit http://vivsters.deviantart. com/art/Robert-Downey-Jr-Step-by-stepProcess-323399786.

drawing a portrait

a paper texture online. Copy and paste it into a new layer, then set the blending mode to Multiply. You may also need to adjust the paper texture so that it fits the image. Go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/ Saturation and toggle with the options until you have the right Hue (color), Saturation (intensity) and Lightness (brightness/darkness). You can also adjust the Opacity of the texture layer.


Designing a poster 56

1. sketching the basic elements Sketch out the basic shapes and colors of your poster design. It is important to keep them on different layers so that they can each be handled individually later on. Also, try to keep lines as smooth as possible. You can achieve this by using the pen tool, or making images out of shapes. Otherwise, keep your brush on 100% Opacity and Flow (you can keep Shape Dynamics for pen pressure).* 2. special effects Now that you have each element on a separate layer, you can adjust the position, size, opacity, blend mode, blending options or filters for each layer. This is part experimentation, part experience. If you have a specific ‘look’ you’re going for, then try searching for a tutorial online.

DESIGN SHORTCUTS • T for Text Tool • Cmd + Shift + > or < to increase or decrease font size • Use shift to draw straight lines or lock proportions • W for Magic Wand Tool • V for Move Tool • Cmd + T for Free Transform (Also see ‘Useful Painting Shortcuts’ in the next tutorial)

I added a brown texture to the pan and an overall orange texture covering the entire poster to keep everything in the same color scheme. I added a slight gradient to the otherwise flat looking flames, tinting it more orange at the tips. Then I put an Outer Glow (in blending options) on the flames to make them even more vibrant.

3. adding text Text, or typography, is an essential part of graphic design. You can see that there are a lot of different settings that you can adjust for text in the Character and Paragraph Toolboxes. Apart from the font, color and alignment, you can also toggle with things like leading (space between lines), letter spacing (space between letters), subscript and superscript, and all caps or all under case.

4. FINAL details and adjustment Now that the basic design is finished, you can add more details to the poster. I added some specks of rice and vegetables in the pan, and highlighted a portion of the fire to make it pop out more. I added an orange grunge/paper texture to make it feel more authentic. Finally, I added the date and time, adding a brown banner to keep the text and the image separated. *For more information about equipment, please turn to the back.

Designing a poster

Once youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re happy with the font, color and placing of your text, you can go to blending options and add more effects. I added a Stroke with low opacity to make it stand out from the background. You can achieve other text effects using the blending options. Try searching online for tutorials on how to make glass text, flame text, or even milk text!


Painting digitally 58

1. LAYING THE LINE ART The first step is to draw the line art. I like to use the regular ‘Hard Mechanical’ brush (default on Photoshop), with Shape Dynamics turned on for pen pressure, Opacity at 60% and Flow at 40%. This gives me more control over the lines, and I like to sketch lightly so that nothing is set in stone yet. *

2. Blocking Out Colors The next step is to block out all the colors. Make sure you work on a new layer. It’s always safe to make a new layer for each new element (at minimum, have the line art, base colors, shadows and highlights on separate layers). This way, you can easily adjust the opacity and blend mode of each layer, or compare what your painting looks like before and after painting a layer, or even delete an entire layer if you decide it doesn’t look good. Start with a mid-tone for the background so that you can build up shadows and highlights. It’s usually good to pick a neutral color for the background, to let the subject stand out more. However, you can also choose a background to represent a specific mood or feeling; in this case, I want my painting to be extremely colorful.

Next, fill in the base colors of your subject. To avoid colors that look like awkward slabs of paint, keep your brush set at lower Opacity and Flow. This also allows previous colors and lines to ‘show through’ to a certain degree. Your colors will blend easily with other colors. 3. REFINING DETAILS Now you can paint some details. Go over and clean up the line art. Add shadows and highlights. You can paint those shadows and highlights using the same base color if you set your brush mode to Multiply (for shadows) or Screen (for highlights). You can also use the eyedropper tool to pick up colors that are already on the canvas. (Check out the ‘Useful Painting Shortcuts’ box for more tips!) Remember to keep adding new layers. You can adjust the Opacity and Blend Mode of each

added layer to achieve the best results. For example, if you painted the highlights too bright, you can bring the layer opacity down; or if you want to tint something, you can do so in blending options > color overlay. It is also useful to flip the canvas horizontally to check for any mistakes.

perience, but if you just play around with layers, blend modes and opacity, you can make your painting look much better! Do more checks on your painting; how does it look like from far? Up close? Up-side-down? Maybe you need to add more detail, or fix a certain part. At this point, you decide for yourself how ‘well done’ the painting should be!

I painted some large brush strokes into the background, just to add a bit of liveliness. You can find many free brushes online, including ink splats, sparkles, clouds... Anything you might ever need! Then I added a texture. Finally, I adjusted the brightness and contrast of specific areas of the painting. This all comes with certain ex-

Useful Painting Shortcuts This is my final painting. You can watch • Z + click & drag to zoom in our out the entire painting process online here: • Double click on Zoom tool to zoom document to 100% • H + click & drag to move canvas when working up close B for brush tool *For more information about equip• E for eraser ment, please turn to the back page. • [ or ] to increase or decrease the brush/eraser size • Opt for the eyedropper tool when the brush tool is selected • Cmd + Opt + Shift + K to customize shortcuts

Painting digitally

FINAL ADJUSTMENTS Your painting is almost finished! You can add some final touches to enhance your overall painting. Try playing around with blend modes (Overlay achieves a nice, vibrant effect), gradients (add a new layer with gradient fill and adjust the blend mode), or textures (add a new layer with a texture and adjust the blend mode).


my Art equipment 60


ere are some of the common tools and equipment that I use for my artwork.

Photoshop - This is one of my most frequently used programs. I use Photoshop for graphic design, digital painting, photo editing, and animation. Some free Photoshop alternatives include Paint.NET and GIMP.

Graphic Tablet (Wacom Bamboo Pen Tablet) - I use a graphic tablet for digital painting. This allows a lot more control over brush strokes than using a mouse. It also detects pen pressure, which is very useful! A4 Printing Paper - This is my favorite type of paper to draw on, despite its lack of quality. I simply find printing paper easily accessible and easy to scan. Pencils and pens - I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t buy any particular brand of pencils or pens, but I do have a wide assortment of mechanical pencils, ballpoint pens, ink pens, gel pens and markers. Acrylic Paint - Most of my painting is done in acrylic, on almost any surface I can find. Camera (Canon EOS 30D) - This is

the camera I use for most of my photography. Books - I love reading and collecting books; art books in particular. Avatar: The Last Airbender (The Art of the Animated Series), The Art of How to Train Your Dragon, The Art of Tangled, The Arrival, Digital Painting Techniques, Neargo as well as Children of the Sea are some of my most prized possessions. And of course, I love looking at art books in bookstores like PageOne. Music - I (almost) always need my music when Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m drawing. My favorite artists include Joe Hisaishi, Hans Zimmer, Disney, and Coldplay. I also love listening to movie sound tracks by other composers. Inspiration - Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m always surfing the internet to discover new artists. I have a whole collection of pictures and bookmarks of artists, but a few of my absolute favorite are Tim Burton, Hayao Miyazaki, Glen Keane, Wenqing Yan, Alice Zhang, Shaun Tan, Viktoria Ridze, Elena Kalis, Maruti Bitamin, Julie Hill, Agnes Cecile, Qing Han and of course Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks, Studio Ghibli and other animation studios! My blog, gallery, and home; here you will find hundreds of sketches, paintings, crafts, photos, blog posts, quizzes, FAQs, and little bits of information about me. My other blog; here you will find my drawings, things I like, and reblogs of other inspiring art pieces. A specific tumblr blog created for just my artwork. My video blog; here you will find all my videos, including process videos for my artwork and film projects. Browse art prints, my art book, commissions information and other items for auction.

Vivian Xiao: an american-born-chinese teenage girl who lives in Hong Kong, Beijing, and Lakeville, CT as a high school student, artist, blogger, chocoholic, nerd, and collector of random things. E-mail: Follow me on facebook for the latest updates. 61

The Artwork of Vivian Xiao  

Traditional drawings, ballpoint pen illustrations, guitar design, graphic design, acrylic paintings, digital paintings, and photography by V...

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