Sarajane's Polyclay Gallery

Adobe Illustrator Is The Magic Coloring Book

adobe illustrator crazy quiltI have always loved to draw and color, with pencils, crayons, sticks in the dirt–whatever was at hand. Making marks, making patterns out of marks multiplied…its still a lot of fun. My tools have multiplied too; I still like a good stick for the dirt, but these days it tends to be ceramics and I DO love the texture stamps I made with clay! Making the stamps are fun, using them is fun, and creativity in general is a lot of brain-stimulating-in-a-good-way fun.

At the other end of the simplicity line from the stick, we have the computer, and all the amazing artistic tools it holds. Once you get a handle on how to use powerful tools, the Adobe Creative Suite of tools like Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign takes the ability to make those patterns and marks to an extreme level. In getting a graphic design degree at Front Range Community College, I was able to access dozens of classes including the Adobe programs.

Photoshop goes way beyond just fixing damaged photos and retouching blemishes. I use it to create designs for rubber stamps and etching using the Dover Pictorial Archive images or dingbat fonts.  I used to do my layout of business cards, posters and other advertising graphics there, until I learned InDesign. It allows you to do layout with a great deal more ease and precision. Knowing Photoshop allows me to manipulate my photos and then bring them in to the other programs; it really does help to know them all, and I make sure to use them all frequently so as not to forget.

free_illustrator_brushes_lace_by_sarajane_helmIllustrator is the most complex and multi-layered of the three programs in some ways. Scanning a drawing and Live Tracing it allows me to manipulate the art I drew by hand and digitize it. Or, I can start with the pen tool or shapes, draw designs digitally, and print them out to color by hand.  The ability to make your own swatches to fill shapes, to make your own brushes and graphic styles is icing on the cake, and I tend to do a lot of my coloring digitally these days, but I do like both.

Here are some other examples of digital art I’ve made.

I’m doing some tutoring/instruction in these programs as well, and in the course of going through my files, I came across my folders of homework.  I thought I’d lost the lace brushes that I made in Illustrator, but I recovered them, and reinstalled them to use again. I put a copy up at to share with anyone who likes to collect Illustrator brushes and swatches, as I do! You can also download it here – free lace brushes for illustrator. Open the file in Illustrator, go to your brushes palette and click on the three menu lines in the right corner, then save it as a brush library. Close the file, and when you have a new file open , you can browse to that (user defined) brush library and use it.

I also took a course called Illustrator and the Graphic Novel at FRCC, and here are the pages I built for that. I used a dream sequence from a novel I’ve been writing for ages–someday I’ll have to work on that again too, but right now, learning and practicing these computer programs is too much fun to stop!