How to Create Cool Artwork When you Draw Like a Chimp

March 19, 2013
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I‘m not sure where I stand when it comes to the ‘born’ argument. It’s a phrase that’s thrown off the cuff a little too easily for my liking; “they’re a born athlete/leader/artist ect…”.

I know that I certainly don’t like the idea of it. I remember reading ‘Crush It’ by Gary Vaynerchuck for the first time and whist loving the message he was getting across, I couldn’t help but feel a little pissed off whenever he mentioned DNA. For those of you that haven’t read the book, Gary Vaynerchuck is a social media guru to the masses and talks widely on leveraging social media to promote your brand. It’s all good stuff, but throughout the book  he mentions his DNA, and how his success can be attributed to it. Don’t get me wrong – the guy slams you again and again with how hard he works and how hard you will have to work to attain the same level of success, but at the same time you get these occasional gut punches that basically tell you that if you’re not born with the right DNA then you may as well give up now.

The idea of that irritates me. I don’t like the idea that I am simply unable to achieve something, that no matter how hard I try, failure is inevitable due to my physical make up.

I know it’s not that simple, and that Vaynerchuck no doubt encompasses upbringing, opportunities and blind luck into the term ‘DNA’ but it still grinds on me.

With that said though, I could make a pretty educated guess and say that I don’t think I’d ever be able to beat Ussain Bolt in a race. Even if I had trained to sprint for every day of my life since birth, there is still an incomprehensibly low chance of me ever taking home that gold. So maybe there is some truth in it?

To be honest though, I don’t really give a shit about running so sod it.

What I do care about is design! (took long enough to get round to that eh?)

I Can’t Draw!

Now a lot of people say that they “can’t draw”, and I say “of course you can! It just takes practice!”. But then I also see people that draw every day and they’re still fucking terrible.

Thankfully though, design doesn’t begin and end with a pencil in your hand anymore… It just begins with it. (Click to tweet this!)

I like to consider myself a fairly decent artist. I may not be the Da Vinci of my time, but if I can see something in my head I can get it onto paper pretty damn accurately. However, I have a sketch book that I keep in my work bag that you nor anyone else will ever ever see. Mainly because the contents of this sketchbook are utter crap. I use this sketchbook to very quickly empty my thoughts onto paper, it serves as nothing more than a genesis machine, a primordial ooze of illustrative wonderment. It’s not suppose to be good, or even remotely recognizable to anyone but me, it’s basically notes in a pictorial form.

From these note I can go on to make up the works I get the big bucks for – which for me means more pencils and pens, but for many others means Wacoms, Photoshop and Vectors.

The simple truth is that we have such a huge array of tools at our disposal now, anyone can create a great design so long as they have the notes. So long as they have the idea, no matter how crude.

So what are these mystical tools I speak of then? Well they’re basically other artists…

The Other Artists

Every single day there are amazing artists pumping content into world. Content that you can buy and use.

Now I’m not talking about big money commissions here. Sure that goes on (it’s buying me a house), but a lot of artists produce one off illustrations that you can buy the rights to use for very little. Maybe a tree branch, an arrow, a light bulb or a robot fishing for an @ symbol, there’s a lot of random stuff out there.

By having your rough sketch to hand you’ll know exactly what to look for and how to piece it together. Loads of ‘affliction style’ t-shirts are made this way now, simply by buying in a bunch of cool illustrations and arranging them in a visually appealing way.

One of the best places to find this kind of thing is in the Go Media Arsenal – these guys produce everything in Vector format, meaning that it can be expanded or reduced to your needs without any loss in quality. Graphic River too is a great place to look if you just need that one off missing piece. You can also use typography to great effect when you combine it with some cool ornamental patterns and other imagery.

If you’re looking for something truly unique, then why not commission the artwork for just the main image you’re producing? By creating the background using stock artwork or simple Photoshop techniques you’ll save a pretty penny when hiring an artists. A lot of artists will probably love you if you only want them to draw the ‘juicy’ bits! There are a tonne of great artists out there that you can find through sites like Behance and Dribbble, but if you’re on a budget (which if you’re outsourcing, may well be the case) I recommend checking out Deviant Art. The forums have a section specifically for posting offers of work, and you’ll no doubt have several quotes back within the hour! A word of warning though! There is no quality restrictions on Deviant Art and you most certainly get what you pay for. Make sure you do you’re research and take a good look through an artists gallery. Nine out of Ten responses will no doubt be an eight year old offering you full colour illustrations for $5, but every now and again, you’ll find a diamond in the rough that’s an absolute bargain (after all – that’s where I got my first commission!).

So don’t be that guy that gives up and spews out that “I can’t draw” line. That really doesn’t matter. So long as you have a clear idea in your head, so long as you know your design kicks arse, then there are hundreds of ways to can bring it to life in a seriously professional way. If you’ve got any other cool tips on how to get around a shaky drawing hand or sweet ways to make up cool designs – let me know in the comments below! Also tweet and share this article if you’ve enjoyed it and spread the love!


Photo Credit to AfrikaForce

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is owner of Hunting Town Design, a small design house based in Manchester UK specialising in Graphic Design and Illustration. Alex is also the founder and editor of The Design Range. Find out more about Alex on his website or follow him on twitter.
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