Illustration • How-To Creating a Split-Page Image in Adobe Fresco

Renowned illustrator (and father of two) Rob Zilla shares a project that’s fun for all ages. 

Self-proclaimed “vector art monster” Rob Zilla (a.k.a. Robert Generette III) used to divide his time between being a freelance illustrator and a high school teacher. He transitioned to full-time creative work a while ago, and at the moment he’s busy with work for a few clients, many from the world of sports—including a major project for an athletic-goods company and some work for a couple of his local pro sports franchises (Rob lives near Washington, D.C.). “I just finished up some work for the Wizards [basketball team] and the Capitals [hockey team],” he says. “I would say things are steady. I think it would be a little busier in normal circumstances, but things are steady—and I like the word steady.”

Many of Rob Zilla’s clients are in the field of sports. He created this cheer card, featuring the Golden State Warriors’ starting five, for a fan night sponsored by Adobe. See more of his work on Behance

Like many parents right now, though, Rob is back in a “classroom” of sorts. He and his wife have been sharing teaching duties for their two sons, ages 9 and 11-going-on-12. “I’m blessed to have a wife who also works in education,” he says, “and what we decided is that she’d take one and I’d take the other, and work with them on their school packages from the county.” And the kids’ reward after a productive day of schooling? “Fortnight,” says Rob. “Which I don’t mind a whole lot; it has a creative aspect to it.” 

Of course, the boys have been doing art projects as well—but Rob says that he’s taking a “stand-back” approach when it comes to their art. “I don’t want them to feel as though their dad is pressuring them to do something, and then they become not interested in it anymore.”

Creating a Split-Page Image 

Rob says this project, a half-photo–half-illustration hybrid that you can complete in Adobe Fresco on an iPad, was inspired, in part, by nostalgia. “I was thinking back on an activity that I did in school. And one that I always have fun with, and one that can come out with so many different results depending on who does it.”

He adds that it’s good for a wide range of ages (who may need varying levels of help with the digital tools—very young kids might be brought in at the drawing stage). And that includes adults! “This project lets a person explore, and there’s some purposeful play mixed up in there. It can be realistic or not, symmetrical or asymmetrical. Your outcome is your outcome. There’s no ‘right outcome.’”

Click on the image to enlarge it. 

Step One: Crop Your Photographic Image

Before you begin, launch Fresco and choose a document size you want to work with. You can import a pre-cropped photographic image into Fresco, or you can crop it in Fresco. If you import a pre-cropped image, skip to Step Two. 

1. In the layers panel on the right, select the background layer (it’s the lower layer), and then duplicate the background layer via the Layer Actions panel. 

2. Also in the Layer Actions panel, select Convert To Pixel Layer. Rename the layer “Paper.”

3. In the Tools panel, select the Transform tool, and decide which half of the image you’d like to draw yourself: right, left, bottom, or top? For the right side, drag the left transform tab to the center of the artboard. For the top, drag the bottom transform tab to the center of the artboard, and so on. 

Click on the image to enlarge it. 

Click on the image to enlarge it. 

4. Import your photograph photo using the Import tool, size the photograph appropriately, and rename the layer “Photo.” 

5. Long press the Photo layer and drag it below the Paper layer—you can use the Transform tool now to refine size and position. Only half of the photo layer will be revealed. 

Step Two: Start Drawing! 

From here, the sky is the limit. Use your imagination and draw the other half of the photo using pixel, vector, or live brushes. Have fun! 

When you’re finished, long-press the Photo layer and drag it to the top of the layer stack. 

Get to know Rob Zilla a little bit better in this interview from 2016, “18 Increasingly Irrelevant Questions for Robert Generette III.” 

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