Stained Glass Illustration

Stained Glass Illustration


I was asked to take this pencil illustration (see art here) and create a graphic for a poster that will advertise a newly written opera. I’m not much of an illustrator myself but I at least had the pencil sketch from the client to work off of. I used Adobe Illustrator to outline and ink in the illustration and then photoshop to apply textures.

The name of the opera is the Voyage of Mary Magdalene. You can view the hatchfund project and see a video about the opera here. It will be opening March 21st at the Clayton Valley Presbyterian Church.

Since the play was biblical in nature I thought stained glass would be appropriate and also would explain the blocky chunks of color. I chose to follow this tutorial which was a perfect choice!!



Tutorial on making a thought bubble, new card design & and a puppy

Tutorial on making a thought bubble, new card design & and a puppy


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pupI recently took pictures of an adorable Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy and some of the photos have been accepted at Shutterstock.

This one of of the sad puppy pose in particular I am making into a greeting card for when you are missing someone.

The front of the card shows her as a sad little puppy with a thought bubble above her head saying “When you’re not here…” and in the inside it says, “I feel a little sad.”

I thought I would also take the time to do a quick tutorial on how to use Adobe Illustrator to make a thought bubble. There are a bazillion ways to do this but this is a nice quick and easy way I thought I would share. Read more

Flag wrapped gun with displace filter

Flag wrapped gun with displace filter

Ok so this is not my usual cute little fluffy kitten or flowers photo. I assure you there are more of those to come!

For now the pressing issue of the day seems to be guns and violence. Not making a stand either way on that issue but as a graphic designer you have to illustrate anything. Here is a little web banner I had to whip out for a college debate on the subject.

My idea was rather typical but often typical gets the point across of what is really at the heart of the issue: the constitution and our rights as US citizens. What better symbols than a gun (duh!), the constitution and the US flag?

I could have just made a collage of all three symbols but just to make it a little more eye catching I decided to merge the two with a very old Photoshop trick.

I still don’t know a better way to do this but if you do please feel free to share. For now though here is how I do it using the displace filter.

Start with good black and white image that you want to wrap that has lots of contrast: Read more

How to draw a vector-based jack o’lantern in Photoshop with shape layers

How to draw a vector-based jack o’lantern in Photoshop with shape layers

Happy Pumpkin!

Since it’s season appropriate I thought I would share what I taught my photoshop class on how to make a Jack o’lantern using the pen tool and shape layers.

Below is what the final image looks like that for the most part would scalable as a vector based graphic before I turned it into a bitmaped image for display purposes here.

[button link=”” color=”orange”] Download layered PSD[/button]
vector based pumpkin

Start with a outline of what you want to do. Below is the sketch I started with and took a picture with my cell phone to get it into Photoshop.

Then select the pen tool and make sure the first icon for shape layer is selected. Then I traced around the outside of pumpkin and made sure my fill color was a dark orange. I used #964b09

To get the shadow effect I click the layer Fx button at the bottom of the layers palette and select inner shadow and make sure your settings look pretty close to mine. (Click image to make bigger)

Duplicate this layer to make a copy of your shape you just made and then go to  Edit > Free Transform Path.  This will make a bounding box around your duplicated object. Use your mouse and click and drag in from the left and the right to shrink the second oval. Repeat the process until you get to the center of the pumpkin.

You should have something close to the image below. If some of the shapes don’t look right just use the pen tool and then press  your control key and make sure your curser looks like a hollow arrow (called the direct selection tool). Then touch the edge of the path you created to activate the control points that you can move or bend.

After you are satisfied turn off all the layers that are the pumpkin so you can see the sketch and make a new layer above layers of the pumpkin and name it “face”

Using the shape tool outline the pumpkin eyes, not and mouth and make sure your fill color is white. Then duplicate my settings below for  the inner shadow replicate my settings by using this color #812c03 (Click image to make bigger)


For the gradient overlay your going to create a custom gradient with the colors #fff4c5, #ffdd4d and #6c1501 (Click image to make bigger)


After you finish with the pumpkin and it’s face don’t forget to make a little shape for the stem and put that on the layer beneath everything else.

When all done group all your layers together by clicking the folder icon at the base of the layers panel and dragging the layers in there. This is so you can flip or transform or apply various options to all the layers at once.

I made a new file and then applied a radial gradient of an orange yellow to a very dark orange for the glowing sun or moon or whatever that is. Then with the pen tool I made a shape filled with black that the pumpkin would sit on.


Below is the pumpkin with a new layer on top with the blend mode set to overlay and using a soft white brush I painted in some glow and then a black brush I painted in some shadows.


When I turn off all the layers but the one mentioned above you can see what I did to create the glow and shadow over the transparent area represented by the dark checkerboard pattern.

Lastly I thought this image needed a spooky tree. I could have drawn it but being the Fall it was so much easier just to shoot a picture of a barren old branch.


I then went to image > color range  and shift + clicked  areas of the sky to make a selection of everything else but the branches. (click image to make larger)


I then when to select > inverse  selection to select only the branches. I pasted that into Adobe Illustrator and then told it to trance the image. I could have done that with Photoshop but it takes up a lot of RAM because it’s not as clean a trace. The other option would be just to fill this area with solid black to make a silhouette and that would have achieved the same appearance. It just wouldn’t have been scalable. That is an option though if you don’t have Adobe Illustrator.

Next just choose the blend mode of darken  to make sure none of the white shows over the orange sky and only the black.



Lastly I used brush number 134 and varied it’s size, scatter  and turned off color dynamics in brush presets to make the black grass.

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and can find it useful when making other things!