Design a Diabolical Skate Deck
You can personalize your skateboard with stickers, but if you design the art yourself, your deck really will be one-of-a-kind. In this tutorial, I’ll walk you through how to design and print your deck art. You can also download an Adobe Illustrator CC file that I’ve already set up with the correct dimensions and my art so you can see how I built the file.
I began with pencil sketches on paper, moving from rough to refined drafts. When I was happy with my devilish creature, I scanned the drawing at 600 dpi and saved it as a .TIFF image. My skateboard deck is 9.5 x 33 inches, so I set up an Illustrator file with those exact dimensions.
STEP 1: BUILD SHAPES
Open the Illustrator file and place the scan of your drawing on its own layer. It’s just a guide for your vector art, so adjust the transparency to 20% and lock the layer.
Now you can build the base shapes. Use the Pen tool to lay down your anchor points. (Anywhere your art comes to a point gets an anchor point.) Adjust the Bézier curves using the anchor point tool by selecting the path and bending the Bézier curve to form the shape you intended.
STEP 2: APPLY COLOR
STEP 3: ADD DETAILS
I use a combination of tonal color hue, opacity, and blend modes to add details. For example, I set a drop shadow to 40% opacity and a blend mode of Multiply. To give the illusion of dimension, I use the Gradient tool, as I did for the radial gradient around the eyes.
STEP 4: GET YOUR GLOW ON
Open one of the photos in Photoshop and convert the mode to grayscale (Image > Mode > Grayscale). Go to Image > Adjustments > Levels and drag the levels until you’ve isolated the lightning. Click OK and go to Image > Adjustments > Invert. Select the inverted layer and go to Image > Mode > Bitmap. Click OK in the window that says, “Flatten visible and hidden layers?” In the next window, set the resolution to 100 ppi and the method to Diffusion Dither. Repeat the process for the other Adobe Stock photo. Save them as TIFFs.
Place the lightning TIFFs as their own layers in your main Illustrator file and move them around until you like the composition. Select the foreground color and make the lightning white, then create a clipping mask based on the board shape.
STEP 6: PREPARE FOR PRINTING