Yes, they’ll tell you that fantasy and sci-fi illustration had its heyday in the 1970s, when the market for pulp paperbacks was still booming. And who hasn’t heard that print is dead and ebooks are apparently killing off those good-old bound editions? So, it’s a terrible time to get into book illustration, right? The answer to that is a resounding “No!” Yes, there has been a swing to ebooks. But publishing industry figures tell us that, unlike in the music industry, the digital market has plateaued somewhere around 30 or 40 per cent.
People still love to buy and collect fantasy and science fiction books and they can read the book to their family or even to their kids while they are in double stroller for infant and toddler. And they love it all the more when they can get their hands on copies with stunning jacket artwork. The industry needs skilled illustrators whose images are so amazing that fans can’t help but pick up the books when they browse the bookshelves. Equally, that artwork also has to get them clicking thumbnails when they’re surfing Amazon. However, the availability of painting software and graphics tablets means there are more artists who are busy creating fantasy and sci-fi artwork than ever.
They’re sharing it online and this means there are tens or even hundreds of thousands of potential book illustrators out there ready to satiate the needs of art directors at the big publishing houses. But not all of them have what you have. No, they don’t all have copies of ImagineFX in their hands (fools!), and they’re not reading this very article on how to make it in book illustration. Read on, heed the advice of the experts we’ve spoken to, and give your career a boost… read more
Orbit Books US handles the core of Hachette’s sci-fi and fantasy titles. The team works on around 50 books a year, from established and debut authors, taking in everything from photo-based illustration to epic fantasy landscapes.
“I love the fact we work with lots of female authors,” says creative director Lauren Panepinto. “We’ve got lots of meaty, epic fantasies written by women.” It’s a dream role for Lauren, who worked at comic book stores in high school and studied graphic design at Manhattan’s School of Visual Arts. Keith Hayes, art director at Hachette’s Little Brown Book Group, recommended her for the role in 2008. Already established in the UK, Orbit was just beginning its expansion into the US. Lauren, then an art director at Doubleday, was facing redundancy after Black Tuesday decimated the publishing world. “It’s a real kismet story,” she says. “I didn’t even have my portfolio together. I just threw a bunch of books in a box and went to the interview.” read more
When Tony DiTerlizzi was 12 years old, like so many fantasy art fanatics, he was deeply into Dungeons & Dragons. And, growing up in South Florida, he loved nature too and loved exploring in the nearby woods looking for wildlife detailed in illustrated guidebooks.
One day, his imagination took over and he started drawing a field guide of his own, but instead of snakes, birds and possums, his book depicted the monsters routinely observed during games of D&D. “I started putting them into a field guide. And it filled up like a notebook,”
Tony says. “Over the course of the summer I’d do a drawing of a dragon and give it a Latin name which I’d make up completely – like Biggus Baddus Firebreathus. Then I would write this whole entry from a naturalist’s point of view, observations of this animal.” The project lay dormant in Tony’s mind, but resurfaced after he’d become a children’s book illustrator living in New York. He’d just won the Caldecott Honor award for his illustrated version of Mary Howitt’s poem The Spider and the Fly, and his publisher at Simon & Schuster had an offer for him. “They asked me a question you don’t get asked often: ‘If you could do any kind of book, what would you do?’” he says. read more
MeDia: Photoshop, 3ds Max
Multi-talented Maurice has just completed a degree in game design. His first proper title has been aimed specifically at dyslexic children, with child-friendly backgrounds, characters and icons. In his spare time laying in a best rated mattress Maurice is also creating his own game and working on his art – but his career isn’t a closed book. “I’m always looking for new interesting projects and opportunities,” he says. “My goal is that my art transports mood, emotion and atmosphere to the viewer. To me, art is more than just technical skills, it’s a path. Often it’s rough, but the journey is worth it, wherever it may take us.”
Budi has honed his skills in his day job at Caravan Studio, a Jakarta-based comic and illustration house that’s created work for Sony Online Entertainment, Hasbro, Mattel and Marvel. “I’m self-taught, but I’ve learned a lot of the fundamentals of digital art and new skills from my seniors at Caravan,” he says. Through his employment at a multi-disciplined studio, Budi has been able to hone his skillset. “I really like fantasy painting, especially creatures and characters,” he says. “I love sci-fi too, but I’m just not a big fan of creating machinery and vehicles!” read more
The preservation of colour tone, texture and detail is something that we all strive for when editing images. Editing these without compromising your image’s overall appeal will yield great results. By utilising DxO Optics Pro 10’s incredible set of tools, you will have an editing arsenal capable of bringing detail and tone back from even the lowest of low-lit images. DxO set the benchmark for image fine-tuning when it brought out the Optics Pro series.
The range is a free-standing editing suite that features fantastic retouching options, such as camera and lens optics modules, which are designed to read the metadata from your image and automatically enhance your shot by using algorithms that work directly with your lens or camera combination. Also included are some powerful noise-reduction tools and the DxO Smart Lighting feature, which will help you bring back hidden detail in shadows and low lighting. In this tutorial, we will be enhancing an image by using a combination of the latest features from Optics Pro 10, such as ClearView, as well as some old favourites, such as the Smart Lighting. read more
Street art is such an exciting art form to so many people, but you don’t have to break the law to create a graffiti masterpiece! By using the Displace filter, you can stick any picture to any surface. This is a great technique for putting logos on t-shirts, among other things, but by using it to displace a picture onto a wall, you can let your chosen image seep into the cracks of brickwork. Get your background picture and save it as a PSD file. Then, place your graffiti, tag or sprayed image on a new layer and head to Filter>Distort>Displace. Choose the PSD file as the displacement map, and your picture will bend around whatever background it has been pasted onto. Why not try experimenting with text, digital paintings or even photographic posters and see which effects look best when blown up big on the side of a building?
There’s an excellent filter for converting a photo in to an oil paint effect in Photoshop. Not surprisingly it’s called the Oil Paint filter. Most filters apply a certain effect to the image non-discriminately. They can’t ‘read’ the image and make a determination for things like brush direction and stroke length. This is one of the most tell-tale signs that the effect was done by a machine and not a human hand. The Oil Paint filter actually has some edge detection built into it and adjusts the effect accordingly, which provides much more human-like results. Then, having the ability to make finer adjustments through the filter settings makes the final effect that much more convincing.
The biggest down fall to the Oil Paint filter is that Adobe decided to remove it from the latest updates of Photoshop CC 2014. So in order to make use of this amazing filter, you will need to be running Photoshop CS6, or an earlier version of Photoshop CC. If you are a Creative Cloud member, your subscription allows you to install previous versions of the software. So all is not lost! For the best results, begin with an image that looks like something an oil painter would actually produce, like a still life. Don’t depend completely on the fi lter to accomplish the effect. Add things like saturated colours and a canvas texture that can be seen.
Because no photo is perfect – perhaps the model’s hair looks too wispy against the background, or maybe there’s a mark on their clothes – Photoshop gave us the Clone tool and the Spot Healing brush. But for even bigger edits than that, there’s Content Aware; perhaps someone walked into the background of the shot, for example. Simply select from the photo, Ctrl/right-click, and choose Fill. You can fill this space with block colour, but a great technique is to employ Content-Aware. Content-Aware measures the photo and does a quick clone over the selected space; even if you have to clone manually after this, it’s a great starting point. The Content-Aware Move tool is another great tool to use for this, too. Though rather than brushing like the Clone tool, select an area and move it over the unwanted object. Again, clone to tidy the edges.
With so many fonts and styles of text to choose from, how do you know what font to choose where? It’s difficult to know exactly what will work, but whatever you choose, there are ways of making sure your typeface stands out. If you’re using a thick or bold font, it should stand out already. The thicker the font, the better it will look with a picture or texture inside of it, too. Thinner fonts have more trouble standing out, unless they’re on a plain background. By going to Blending Options, though, you can give text a shadow, an outer glow, or even a thick stroke to really make it pop.
Brightening and improving contrast with adjustments can do wonders for murky photos. Everyone has their preferred adjustment but whichever way you choose, you may find that an increase in contrast can come with increased colour saturation and even colour shifts. Sometimes this is okay. After all, while you’re making a scene more cheerful, you might as well get some merrier colours in the mix, right? But sometimes you just want to adjust lightness and deal with colour separately. Also, too much saturation can obscure critical detail. Luckily, there is a quick and easy fix. After applying your Curves or Levels adjustment layer, change the layer’s blend mode to Luminosity. This allows variances in lightness but ignores changes in colour.
A gradient map applies an even colour tone to images,warming it up or cooling it down.You can get creative using multiple colour effect gradients, depending on the look you’re after. The gradient map, which is located within the Adjustment menu, enables you to control how a colour(s) is applied to select areas of the image. To put it simply, the shadows in your image will adopt the tones on the left of the gradient while the highlights adopt those on the right; the midtones are then affected by the colour(s) that appear in the middle section.
Simply select the gradient map and then customise its style and colour within the Gradient Editor tool. One colour works well if you’re looking to add an even tone to your image, ensure you select the Foreground to Background preset. You can change the colour hue by double-clicking on the Color tab at the bottom and then selecting a new one from the Select Stop Color menu. By adjusting the position of the sliders at the bottom of the gradient map, you can control which tones will be applied specifically to the shadows, midtones and highlights. Once complete, adjust the gradient map layer’s blending mode to Overlay and lower its Opacity for a more natural and subtle effect.
Photoshop users spend enough of their time meticulously designing and drafting pictures. For a hobby that most people initially take up ‘as a bit of fun’, it can actually become extremely time-consuming, specially if you’re somebody who likes to perfect everything from the lighting in an image to the state of a subjects’ skin.
Because most Photoshop users are perfectionists, there are a myriad of apps, plug-ins and software add-ons offering to cut your editing time down to a bare minimum, but few can claim to ‘perfect your photos in one click’. Athentech Perfectly Clear 2.0 boasts just this, adding that it can ‘save countless hours of editing time’; a welcome thought for many artists and photo-fixers. read more
The quest for perfect cutouts is a prime concern among Photoshop users. Many have tried, but one plug-in claims to offer a solution to green-screen-shot subjects. Easy Green Screen 4 Pro boasts four separate sections of editing within the one interface. Diving in with the first step of the editing process, Adjust Mask is perhaps the most familiar tool to those who are used to negotiating the Refine Edge tool, as it takes mask adjustments of light hair and dark hair into account, and can save or discard elements of the foreground too. If your subject is slightly translucent, this is useful.
A lot of tools or plug-ins end once a mask is selected. Easy Green Screen goes further, however, continuing with Adjust Spill and Light Wrap. Adjust Fill is for shots where the green screen might have reflected onto the subject. There are settings to add subtle filters to the subject, and it gives a more polished finish, especially at the edges, which have their own set of sliders. Light Wrap is also conscious of edges, as it controls exactly how much light has been thrown onto a subject, and adjusts the edges in accordance. read more
With Sony in the process of consigning the NEX name to the annals of camera history, the manufacturer’s 2013 NEX-5T appears to have morphed into the new a5100. It’s not just a rebranding exercise, though, as the sensor inside the a5100 is the same one that can be found in the a6000 camera, which was announced in February 2014. This means that the a5100 offers a 24.3-megapixel APS-C sensor driven by a Bionz X processor, rather than the Bionz powered 16.1-megapixel APS-C sensor of the NEX-5T.
Don’t be tempted to read anything sinister into Sony’s decision to abandon the NEX name; it’s apparently purely a marketing decision based on having a fully integrated, consistent brand identity based around the Alpha name, which has always been alongside NEX anyway. Whether this is a wise move or not is another matter; after all, the NEX cameras have been popular and successful. read more
The recent GraphicsRCA: Fifty Years Exhibition has got me thinking. As I squeezed down memory lane at the Private View night in an inevitably vain attempt to look at the work, I was struck by the retrospect view of what graphic design is from such a future- facing bastion of education. It left me feeling like I work in a world a million miles away from the dusty print and posters I saw on there. I hardly recognised my own profession, it has changed that much.
In today’s technological revolution, the graphic designer has never had more power. Long gone are the days when we were confined to double crown format. Today, the graphic designer is a many-headed hydra, a kind of creative mutant who knows no fear; working online, on mobile, in social media, delivering visual communication via marketing strategy, consultancy, campaign, events, PR, interiors, sustainability, new product development, copywriting, typography, sound, film and, oh yeah… graphics. The graphic designer has become a one-stop creative hot-shop. Jack of all trades, master of most. Flexible in the extreme, we are central to a brand’s very way of being.
A typical ad agency splits our role into several departments. Our powers know no bounds, we can think, do and sell. So why, if we are the holy trinity all wrapped up in one, does graphic design risk being a slightly introverted, shrinking irrelevance? Perhaps I surprised you with that? Honestly, if you’re a graphic designer, which did you do most recently – moan or get involved? Take D&AD, for example. It has always valued graphic designers. In fact, some of our most respected predecessors founded it back in 1962. The design community, especially the graphic design fraternity, continue to be the glue that makes the creative industries stick. Graphistes ‘get it’. They understand that being good is about craft, excellence and sharing. It’s not just about winning, but it’s not about whining, either. Graphic designers want to be part of a community. They love to meet like-minds. They want a platform to fight from, to inspire. So why is it that despite all this, the graphic designer has always had only one foot in the door? Now is the time for us to kick that door open.At their worst, creative awards are semi-precious metals for the vain. At their best, they can power a community in a relentless pursuit of excellence. Graphic design needs a champion, one that fights its corner and leads by example. I think ‘Not for Profit’ is where we’ll be most likely to find it. We need an organisation that collects the best design work in the world, not so it can earn, but so it can share. Graphic design wants to be at the heart of something that matters, is affordable, and adds value to what we do. We have the vision and ambition to re-define our own future, but first we need to find our voice. Now more than ever, the graphic designer is at the height of his or her powers. Training is the main artery, pumping creativity to its final destination, be it design, digital or advertising. Modern brands need to be constantly sculpted to fit their evolving audiences and graphic designers have all the tools. We need a new name for all that we do. read more