In the beginning, Illustrator was a great 2D graphics tool. In graduate school, I learned to use it as a set-up to my illustrations. This illustrator file could be brought into Photoshop, where I could then do the “real” painting, adding form through highlights, core and cast shadows, and airbrushing in all the beautiful variations in color that occur when light hits an object. But what happens when I needed to change, say, the color of an object in the image?
Because we used Photoshop in place of traditional painting, we used the tools in the same way we’d do so with traditional techniques, like airbrush. First, I’d make a frisket, which is like a stencil; in Photoshop this was called a mask. Then, I’d adhere the frisket on my board, or, make a selection in Photoshop. Finally, I’d grab my airbrush, or airbrush tool, pour my paint into the reservoir, or select it in the color palette, and then paint. Excellent!
Now, traditionally, if I want to erase what I’ve done and re-paint it, I’d have to attempt to erase it without damaging the surface of the medium (paper, canvas, illustration board). Bad things happen when the medium’s surface is damaged, like uncontrollable bleeding and splotchy patches. Then I’d need to clean out my airbrush reservoir, re-apply my frisket, and finally re-paint the new colors.
Photoshop makes this process much easier, since I can specifically select the area I want to erase with the mask I had already created, and erase that area. Then, with that area still selected, I can re-airbrush all the bumps and dips on the surface, all the highlights, core and cast shadows, and reflected lights to render that surface to look real. Kind of a pain, but still easier than traditional.
In contrast, with Illustrator I can also create these undulations, core and cast shadows and highlights using shapes. If I need to change colors, it was a matter of selecting the shape, and then clicking on the new color in the swatch palette. And scene.
Illustrator, from the beginning, was my choice, because I just KNEW that I would be making plenty of changes to the illustrations, the color scheme, the background colors and textures, the layout, everything.
Next up, we’ll get back to the specific production technicalities with gutters!