Make It on Mobile: Dan Mumford’s Psychedelic ‘Screen-Printed’ Style
When creating his bold digital illustrations, Mumford refers back to his background in screen printing. And thanks to the unique way he applies color to his work, those images often have a psychedelic, screen-printed feel—as does this piece, which he created solely with Adobe Illustrator Draw on an iPad Pro while traveling in Europe.
Although you may choose to forge ahead without creating a sketch first, Mumford started with a color sketch that would serve as a guide. After he’d drawn the sketch, he put a new layer on top of it and set that layer’s opacity to 50%, so he could see the sketch while he drew in black and white (select Draw’s layer icon to add a layer, and tap on it to adjust settings such as opacity).
“Most of my work is time-intensive,” he explains, “so I like to make sure the composition and tonal values throughout the image are correct. If I can make the sketch very small, squint at it, and still ‘read’ it, then I feel confident about the composition…. This saves me time in the long run. Also, I generally work quite zoomed in, so I’m not seeing the overall image while I work.”
On the new layer he’d created, Mumford did most of his line drawing, using the sketch layer as a reference. He used Draw’s taper brush tool with high taper and pressure sensitivity settings (tap on a brush tool to adjust its settings); he also used the eraser tool as a “brush”—creating large areas of black and then carving into them with white highlights. “I used to do pure line work,” he says. “But through experimenting, I learned that you can add impact by creating large areas of black and then carving out the highlights. It adds extra dimension.”
Once the black line work was finished, Mumford blocked out two main areas of color: blue for the woman’s skin and the birds, and purple for the woman’s hair.
For the hair, after he’d added the first layer of purple, he duplicated the layer (tap on a Draw layer to see the option to duplicate it), chose a darker purple to fill in the hair shape on the duplicated layer, and then used the eraser tool to carve out highlights. He then repeated this “color-carving” step, adding depth with each new layer of color.
Working this way allows Mumford to toggle between the eraser and the brush tool, so he can color and erase easily without affecting the color below. “You can make a mistake without affecting what you’ve already got. It’s like a backup,” he says. “The way I layer stuff is a callback to how I do screen-print work—as is the way I do a hard dark color on top to pull everything together.”
Once he was happy with the hair color, he merged the layers. He then added more highlights—but nothing “too drastic” at this point.
For eyes, Mumford always makes sure to use a perfect circle—“especially when it comes to pupils,” he says, “so you can get the right shine on them.”
To get those perfect circles, he added a layer beneath all the other layers; there, he used Draw’s circle shape tool (accessible via the shape menu in Draw’s top navigation bar).
Mumford then added concentric circles of color and experimented until he was happy with the eyes’ brightness and overall look.
The final steps also involved using shape tools. “I added the shapes in the background to complete the illustration—the geometric shapes accentuate the primary figure.”
Using either the square or circle tool as needed, he created a shape, duplicated it, and reduced the duplicate’s size—the double-lined shapes are actually shapes within shapes.
THE MAKE IT ON MOBILE CHALLENGE
We invited Create readers to follow part of this tutorial and make their own screen print–style creation with Draw—with the winner receiving an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. And that winner, chosen by Dan Mumford, was Alistair Baxter! Visit the Make It on Mobile landing page to learn more, and to stay up-to-date on the new contests we will be hosting throughout 2016.