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Make It on Mobile: Chris Piascik’s Autumnal Jumble

By Charles Purdy

Illustrator Chris Piascik started his creative career as a graphic designer—then a daily drawing project that he started in 2007 (and that he continues to this day) pointed him in a new direction. He says he became an illustrator “by accident,” but it’s an accident he has every reason to be happy about: now he’s winning awards and working for clients like Coca-Cola, Nickelodeon, and Converse.

For this jumble drawing, Piascik decided to celebrate the arrival of fall. “It’s my favorite season,” he says. If you love fall, too, download the image in sizes fit for mobile and desktop wallpaper!

And he has been drawing for a long time—Piascik started doing his signature “jumble drawings” when he was a boy. “I always wanted to draw but could never decide exactly what I wanted to draw,” he says. “Also, blank pieces of paper are intimidating.”

So he’d draw something small, and then draw something next to it, and then keep going until he filled up the page. He explains, “It took the pressure off any one thing looking perfect. Without the added self-consciousness, I could just draw and enjoy myself.”

These days, Piascik has incorporated Adobe mobile apps Photoshop Sketch and Illustrator Draw into his drawing practice. Read on to see how he used them to create a drawing that celebrates the arrival of fall.

SKETCHING IN PHOTOSHOP SKETCH

Piascik says that his first step in creating a jumble drawing is brainstorming imagery related to the topic; then, when he has plenty of ideas in his head, he’s ready to start sketching. He (or a client) may choose to fit the image into a certain shape—for this drawing, he decided to work within a circle.

Click on the image to watch a time-lapse video of Piascik’s initial sketching process.

Piascik says, “I typically sketch within the Sketch app. My first step is drawing the shape that I will be working within. Once I have my framework ready, I try to just sketch as fast as I can without overthinking anything—reminding myself that this is a loose map of elements, not a final drawing. Working this way also allows my work to retain a loose and playful energy. As I’m sketching, I skip around the composition and find places to fill in.” (Learn more about using Adobe Photoshop Sketch.)

DRAWING LINES IN ILLUSTRATOR DRAW

Once he’d finished his sketch, he saved it and opened it as a layer in Illustrator Draw so he could use it as a guide. Then he added a new layer for his line work (select the plus-sign icon on the right side of the interface to add a layer, and tap on layers to adjust settings such as opacity).

Click on the image to watch a small portion of Piascik’s “inking” process.

He says, “From there, I’ll zoom in on an area that I feel most confident about and start ‘inking.’ During this stage I’ll finish shapes and tweak things to fit together more tightly to maintain the solid jumble—I often improvise at this stage and sometimes even change things completely from my original sketch.” (Learn more about using Adobe Illustrator Draw.)

ADDING COLOR AND REFINING THE IMAGE

Piascik starts adding color after he’s happy with the line work he’s done—he typically duplicates the line layer and colors in the duplicate (click on the layer to access the layer-duplication feature). He says, “This is often helpful if I want to go in and add details or shadowing. It also lets me play around, knowing that the line work safe and sound. Picking color is an intuitive process for me, and there are usually many changes throughout the process.”

You may choose to organize your drawing by placing colors, lines, and other elements on separate layers—this can allow you to experiment. The purple seen here didn’t make it into the final image—Piascik was able to remove the purple layer without interfering with the other colors.

For his background color, Piascik first tried a purple color that didn’t make it into the final image. He explains, “Since this drawing is fall themed, it seemed only natural to start with warm reds and oranges. Before I got too far, I started thinking about what my background color would be. Since the elements are bright, warm colors, I considered cool colors to allow things to pop. My first attempt was a purple. I began working with that knowing I might try something else—the shape I created was simply an abstract blob to soften the edges of the circle. Pretty quickly, I decided that the purple was too much and seemed to be competing with the other bright colors. After trying other blues, grays, and purples, I landed on a dark, cool, gray.”

As he was refining his image, Piascik masked his original letter shapes for the word fall and redrew the letters on a new layer.

Click on the image to watch Piascik go in and add details to his image.

As he finished up his image, Piascik began to be a little more critical about individual elements. For example, he says, “One thing that I was not completely happy with was the ‘FALL’ lettering. It felt like it needed some refinement.” So he created a new layer to mask over what he’d drawn, and sketched out a simple skeleton for the new letters, to figure out spacing. Then he built up the letter forms around that skeleton.

Adding details was his final step.

Have a very happy autumn and a spooky Halloween!