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Artist David Acevedo Makes a Splash

By Charles Purdy

On his Behance page, David Acevedo’s bold illustrations are on glorious display. That’s where his work (in particular, his 36 Days of Type project) caught the eye of Cindy Yep, an Adobe associate creative director—which led to a commission for Acevedo: a new splash screen for Adobe Illustrator CC.

The Adobe Studio is always searching for innovative new artists to work with. These artists create images for promotions, events, splash screens (the screens you see when you first open an application), and a lot of other stuff. And although in this case the creative team ended up going in another direction, Acevedo’s jellyfish illustration was too cool not to share. 

Here is the final jellyfish image. Click to see the jellyfish come to life with the addition of detail and color.

UNDER THE SEA

The initial brief left a lot to the artist’s imagination: the Studio team asked Acevedo to create something that he felt would not only show off Illustrator’s potential but also represent him as a world-class artist. Yep’s brief said the illustration should be intense, eye-catching, and inventive—like all the artist’s work.

And Acevedo’s imagination quickly turned to the sea. “Jellyfish and the underwater animal world in general have been a central part of my imagination since reading La Ruta de la Medusa [“The Route of the Jellyfish”], a 1994 comic by Pasqual Ferry,” he says. “The mythological world they inhabit in the ocean depths fascinates me. Jellyfish especially inspire me, as gelatinous creatures with long tentacles that drift along, deep down…a beast from the abyss that gives off color and light and illuminates the darkness.”

Some of Acevedo’s initial sketches for his jellyfish illustration. 

DIVING DEEP IN ILLUSTRATOR

When he begins a project, Acevedo spends hours or even days on research. Then he makes a list of keywords and starts with small sketches or doodles in a sketchpad—Acevedo always draws his initial compositions in pencil. This process helps him refine and define the concept. Only when he’s confident about the direction his illustration will take does he begin working in Illustrator.

“In this piece, I could clearly see that I wanted to portray jellyfish as magical beings that bring light to the darkness,” says Acevedo. “And I wanted to have an iconic element against a monochrome background, generating an explosion of color.”

Acevedo created the initial composition in black and white, using geometric shapes. “I’ve always thought that geometry is one of an illustrator’s main allies,” he says. “They bring order to a composition and make the end result much easier to understand. In this piece, geometry also allowed me to consider creating an op art–style optical illusion for the viewer.”

In the end, he provided two color options for the jellyfish image: one on a black-and-white background, and one on an aqua background—the latter was the direction selected by the Studio creative team.

Acevedo continues, “The Blend tool was key to achieving the desired effect. This tool builds the transitions between different geometric shapes—for example, within the tentacles and heads of the jellyfish.”

As he typically does, once Acevedo was finished with the bulk of his illustration, he moved to Adobe Photoshop CC, where he refined shadows, highlights, and textures.

Acevedo used geometry to give this illustration an op art effect.

A COLORFUL LIFE

Acevedo has been drawn to illustration since his childhood, when he fell in love with comics—he initially wanted to be a comic book artist when he grew up. He ended up studying art and illustration in Barcelona (where he currently lives) and then graphic design in Paris.

“Since my days as a student, illustration and design, and typography in particular, have been key elements in my work,” he says—adding, with a smile, “in fact, I’ve never actually drawn a comic.”

First in France and then in Barcelona, Acevedo lived the agency life before becoming a full-time freelancer. These days, he says he has no clear dividing line between his professional life and his personal life. “I think that in order to create, you need to live and have experiences,” he explains. “One thing feeds the other. Everything inspires me to some extent.”

Find more of Acevedo’s work on Behance, Instagram, and his website.

Three selections from Acevedo’s 36 Days of Type project—the project that first attracted the attention of the Adobe Studio.