Step four…Sculpting in 2-D
So far my steps are pretty standard for a lot of artists. Now is the time I deviate from a normal process (or so I think). As most close friends know, I adore working with Adobe Illustrator. I love the precision, the ease of selection, the fluid ability to alter and change, and the Undo button. I love that Illustrator allows me to build, to take a shape and combine more shapes to it, or remove parts of shapes. I love that I can develop a unique style by combining and playing with the abundance of tools. I have worked with Illustrator for over ten years now, and have never grown tired of it. I feel like this software is an ever-expanding medium. The more I know, the more there is to know. Truly my creativity has grown faster and easier with the use of Illustrator (and my Wacom tablet).
Adobe Illustrator is a vector drawing and design program, which means that unlike Photoshop, in Illustrator we work with paths. Photoshop works with pixels. The paths in Illustrator are constructed with anchor points that hold the path down, and direction handles that allow the artist to pull and adjust the curve, slope and direction of the path. For a typical circle there are 4 of these anchor points. To make this all a bit clearer I developed videos for the classes I teach. Here is the link to the series of videos that cover anchor points and direction handles.
Back to my chimpanzee… since I studied (by drawing and clay sculpting) the essential structure of the chimp, I am now ready to develop the character using paths in Illustrator. I started with the overall silhouette shape of the head. I asked myself what basic shape is the head? I decided upon a circle. Then I asked myself, what basic shape is the muzzle? Or I should say, what basic shapes could be used to build the muzzle since the muzzle is a detailed and complicated portion of the face? In the following photograph (look left to right, top to bottom) you can see the building progression from simple geometric paths to final structure.
As I crafted the chimp’s head in Illustrator, I noticed that I was adding shapes to the head, which reminded me of adding clumps of clay to the clay head version. I also removed pieces of shapes from the Illustrator version, which reminded me of removing pieces of clay from the clay head version. Traditional sculpture normally falls into three processes, either additive, or subtractive or a combination of both. I realized that in essence I was using traditional additive and subtractive methods in Adobe Illustrator. So I decided to call this process Sculpting in 2D.
To further the comparison between my Illustrator and my traditional clay sculpture processes I noticed that I would select an anchor point and nudge or push the point to a new position. I would pull a direction handle to adjust the curve of the path. This subtle pushing and pulling of anchor points and direction handles was exactly like taking clay and subtly pushing and pulling the clay into the desired form. I love this connection between a traditional sculpting process and working in Illustrator.Add a Comment