Category Archives: Technical/Production

Adobe Illustrator Celebrity Portrait


A print made by the silk-screen process.

Silk–Screen Process

A print made using a stencil process in which an image or design is superimposed on a very fine mesh screen and printing ink is squeegeed onto the printing surface through the area of the screen that is not covered by the stencil. Each imprint, or application of color, is printed above its previous layer. Separate artwork is generated and applied to individual screens, each carrying their own unique color blend. Typically flat, and opaque color is represented and specified through the Pantone Matching System (PMS). Unlike professional offset printing, silk screen inks lay flat and offer no transparent blending of color.

Project Three: Part One

| Project Three: Part One

Project 3: Reductive Portrait
Illustrator Project —1.1

Appropriating The Master Appropriator

Pulling from his background in skateboarding graphics, Shepard Fairey is a modern master of reductive design-based art. Using a similar process throughout his body of work, he has managed to create an impactful and recognizable style that has found a home in areas ranging from street art and graffiti to presidential campaigns. We will be using his work as a base of inspiration for this assignment.

Your first task is to seek out a relatively high resolution photograph of a famous person to use as reference. You will be working on an 11”x 17” layout (portrait, not landscape), so plan to crop/resize your image to fit. Much like Fairey’s famous Obama poster (the HOPE poster), you will reduce your image to four (4) color planes. Each color plane should exist on its own layer in the ILL file. Place the photo on the bottom layer, so you can see it as you trace over it. For an added challenge, you can incorporate a small amount of text into your final portrait.

You will be turning in TWO final files. The first is the original drawing. The second is the original drawing with textures and effects applied to it. This will be introduced further in Project 3 Part 2. 
We’ll look critically at both.

Work in layers. Since you are using only 4 color fields, make sure each color field is on its own layer. Remove the original image from the file for turn-in, but be sure to turn it in together (just not as a flattened layer).

Alternate Tutorial; for thinking about, and working with, Vector portraits

Adobe Illustrator: Celebrity Portrait

| Project Three: Part Two

Project 3: Alternate Textures
and Patterns
Illustrator Project —1.2

Pattern & Texture alternative

For Project Three Part Two you will be examining the use of texture and pattering to effect and alter your current portrait. Illustrator has strong editing tolls. Adding textures from alternative sources can change your designs quickly. Adding raster based PSD files into illustrator files can create supper dynamic richly texture images. Knowing how, and when, to use what file type is essential. You will be looking through the graphic collections offered by Media Militia to alter your design by adding texture and pattern.

You will be turning in TWO final files. The first is the original drawing. The second is the original drawing with textures and effects applied to it. We’ll look critically at both.

Examine several of the Media Militia artwork collections. Determine which is appropriate, and with its addition, can enhance your portraits. Download any of the collections (or all of them for future usage)

  • Examine what type of media files contained in the collection. There can be; eps- AI file type, vector AI file type, png-PSD raster images, often in black and white or RGB, these files most often have transparent backgrounds; JPEG files.
  • Both vector and EPS files can be used directly in Adobe Ill. You can change the color, weight, and scale proportions freely.
  • PNG, JPEG and other image files can be manipulated with limed editing possibilities in AI, or…
  • PNG, JPEG files can be opened and altered in PSD for greater control.
  • Files can be turned into greyscale, then converted to monochromatic bitmap files types; lastly, saved as a TIFF file, which allows greater color control within AI.

Use existing outlines and color shapes as clipping masks and layer the new artwork in/onto your existing artwork.

  • Copy outlines or main color fields
  • Add a layer;
  • Place your new artwork
  • commnd– “F” or ‘paste-in-place’ your outline, which will shortly become a vector clipping mask for the placed imagery
  • Select both the outline & the image
  • Choose Object >clipping path – your image is now inset into the artwork.
  • Under layers you can access the clipping mask, and/or the placed image independent from each other
  • Use color to create subtle color shift, white to reverse out from main artwork
  • Examine transparency or layering blending for subtle color shifts
Alternatively — you can add or create AI patterns of icons or other graphic elements to inlay into your portraits. For example: you could create a vector peace sign and apply it as a pattern.


Media Militia is an online resource of patterns, textures, PSD brushes, AI (vector) illustrations. Each library contain different file types which can be used to enhance and change your portrait. Several of the libraries are more versatile than others; some more stylistic. Ultimately it is up to you to use them in subtle ways, and retain creative control without taking too many of the borrowed visual properties.

Media Militia — Freebies



Anatomy of a Grid


Design Culture Now

Design Culture Now

Bodega Typeface created on an iPad using iFontMaker; exported as a True Type font format.

Hand drawn “DE•SIGN” and “Cooper – Hewitt…” hand-lettering was drawn and generated on an iPad using the Made With Paper — 53 iPad App.

A Critical Academic Response

Many design professors and faculty have begun implementing a version of Ellen Lupton’s Design Culture Now poster assignment into GD1, GD2, or Typography classes across the globe. This overwhelming acceptance of this project has created a small online community. Almost a right of passage, a Google search for Design Culture Now Poster recalls hundreds of student posters. The collection is a small snapshot into the current need for design curriculum to adapt, change, and address contemporary design issues and technical attributes.

As a former graduate student of Ellen’s, I readily accept this project and have added it to my GD1 courses for the past several semesters. I have seen an assorted grouping of student designs; some excellent, and others that miss the essential guidelines and typographic criteria for which the project was created.

The National Design Triennial exhibition and catalog of the same name was once a speculative collection of cross-disciplinary designers and their designs in both theory, practice, and application. As indirect result has formed a large micro community of poster designs. These designs can illuminate current design trends, design education, and current events circulating the international design community.

Student designs vary greatly, from well developed visual design concepts, to poorly reactive, non-observant non articulated misaligned solutions. Seeing the larger community of DCN poster design I see my teaching notes are not unlike others. The uniqueness of this poster community allows distant observation for both the students and faculty. The diversity allows students to witness other attempts, used in a larger discussion can help make their own posters more articulate and considered. The DCN poster project is an ever specific, minute micro study, into current events of design history. The larger collection is acting like a time capsule for contemporary design education practice.

Project: 5
Text, image, hierarchy, impact


Time to make a poster! Again, we turn to Ms. Lupton
(with some modifications):

Create a poster for a lecture series about contemporary design.

Carefully consider the typographic hierarchy of the information presented. A viewer should be able to easily understand the calendar of events and quickly learn who the main speakers are. The poster must also convey the excitement of contemporary design to an audience of designers and students. The information itself must constitute the “imagery” of the poster.

Your posters should show a significant rigorous study of potential typographic solutions. Think of the past projects leading up to this; how does hierarchy, type size and style, and the use of a grid organize information. What relationships can you create?


Size: 18” x 24”

  • Your poster must be type dominant. You may use colors, shapes, and lines as well as any supplemental text.
  • Any secondary imagery such as a collage, illustration or photograph must be created by you. No outside found/stolen/borrowed imagery may be used.
  • You must use a grid to organize your design. The grid is up to you. Consider how the number of columns and rows may organize and structure your content.

Ideation—first draft of designs. You must create three poster concepts. Present your three designs reduced to fit an 11” x 17” (including crop marks). Each of your three concepts must be printed, cut, and trimmed and prepared before class begins. Unfinished posters will not be accepted for critique.



Three Phases of Design

Three Phase DesignDiagram, Three Phases of a Project

Research and Investigation

I) Research and Investigation is the key to developing design solutions. During this phase, the scope of work, problems and criteria are determined. The thoroughness of information obtained in this phase determines the success of the solutions.

Concept and Design

II) Concept and Design is the phase when potential solutions are conceived and developed, based upon information gathered in the first phase. At the conclusion of this phase, the final designs and copy are completed, then reviewed and approved by the client.

Implementation and Supervision

III) Implementation and Supervision is the phase when the production of camera-ready artwork or adjustments to disk art, photography, and illustration are done. Artwork will be prepared clearly and accurately for maximum
efficiency in the printing process. Final production will be discussed with the client and production considerations handled. At the conclusion of this phase, all final artwork-scans, photography, or illustration-will be approved by the client and sent to the printer for reproduction. Alterations or corrections can still be
made, however, changes at this stage are expensive and will delay final delivery.