Saturday, January 14, 2012

How to Create an Art Nouveau Illustration

A little over two years ago, I started creating a series of illustrations that I could sell as prints in my Etsy shop and also to be used on T-shirts in my CafePress store.  I have called this series Celestial Creatures because each illustration features an animal (real or mythological) that has had a constellation named after it. After buying a book on Alphonse Mucha, I decided to create these images in an Art Nouveau style.

My latest illustration was for the southern constellation Tucana, the Toucan.

Before beginning, I gathered some reference images from the internet. I sketched my final image of the toucan, based on a composite of several reference photos.

I based some of my Art Nouveau floral shapes on some of the shapes in Mucha's work.

I created the image in Corel Painter 11 and started with a simple digital pencil sketch, which I refined as I went along.  At this stage, I also began to play around with the type that would be in the image.

I placed my sketch into an Adobe Illustrator file to create the curved border and the other art nouveau shapes.  I could have done this within Painter, but I find illustrator's shape tool is easier to work with.  Once I got the shapes the way I wanted them, I saved the file as a .psd (photoshop) file so that I could reopen it in Painter.

I then began to paint the background and the bird.  The bird, the border elements and the type were on separate layers from the background. For painting the image I used a combination of Painter's brushes. I primarily used some of the gouache brushes, but I also used the Artist's Oils soft blender brush as well as some of the regular blender tools. I added details with some of the pen brushes. 

From this point, it was just a matter of continuing to paint and blend, just as if I was working on a real canvas.  In case you're wondering, I use a Wacom Intuos 3 tablet and pen to do my painting.  I think something like this would be impossible to do with a mouse.

The Final Image