When the Creative Cloud Learn team decided to create in-app tutorial content for Creative Cloud members (a highly visual audience with equally high expectations), it knew that the accompanying imagery would have to be as compelling as the instruction.
The team turned toward its long-standing relationships with the designers, illustrators and artists who use Creative Cloud and asked a group of them to illustratively-interpret a handful of the features in Adobe’s applications—content that would tell the story of what was being taught but that would also stand on its own. They were staggered by the results. This five-part series is a close-up look at the artists and their approach to crafting this conceptual art:
First up is Tad Carpenter, a Kansas City, Missouri-based illustrator and designer who runs design and branding studio Tad Carpenter Creative.
Tell us a bit about your studio and what you love most about being in a creative profession.
I’ve been working professionally as a designer for ten years and opened the studio five years ago—with a focus on creating brand identities, packaging and illustrative-based design. We bring messages to life through smart, strong and honest work for a wide range of clients. What I love most about what we do: Our work is our play, and our play is our work.
Illustration often involves the conceptual interpretation of a concrete idea (a story, a product, an event); was it any different creating art to define a feature in an application?
No. I actually approached this project very much as an editorial-based job. I was given several feature topics and my job was to interpret them, in literal or abstract ways, in design form. It was a blast. Some of our concepts I think are easier to piece together with the topic and others take some thought…but that’s what made this project so fun.
Do you remember the art direction you received from the Learn team? Was it hands-off? Or hands-on?
Very hands off. They showed great trust in my ideas and overall concepts. They of course had input and ideas but ultimately they allowed me to paint the picture that supported their product.
Were you aware of the Creative Cloud Learn content before starting this project?
I’m embarrassed to say I wasn’t. But since working on it I’ve watched and read a lot of content in the Learn section. Adobe’s tools are so deep and keeping up with upgrades and additions can be difficult but Adobe’s made it easier than ever to learn new tricks and pick-up on things you’ve never used before.
Of the illustrations you created, which is your favorite? Why?
That’s a hard choice but I have to say the image for Master Pages in Adobe Muse. When I think about developing interactive content and how best to illustrate that, it starts to hurt my head: Designing a website entails creating an entirely new experience for someone, with the involvement of a lot of moving parts, structures, and collaborators all working toward one common goal. Looking at it that way, Adobe Muse starts to sound a little like a musical conductor… leading a group that’s working together to create one beautiful experience, but not just musicians create this experience… shapes, colors, abstract thought, ideas, are what it takes to build and make an interactive experience. It’s what designers and developers do everyday.
Of the topics you created illustrations for, which was the most problematic? How did you solve it?
For sure the Hyperlinks was the most difficult. My approach was to show a whimsical vehicle that takes people where they need to go. It’s a very literal approach to what a link actually does but the vehicle has lots of wires and buttons and a space-age look—as if it were traveling through tubes and wires inside a device.
Where does your creative process begin? On paper? Or screen?
Every single project I work on starts out with pencil and paper. I start by creating a bunch of thumbnails. I move quickly with a bunch of scenarios for the illustration. I don’t worry about accuracy, or anything else for that matter, and focus purely on concept and idea generation. I then pick out a couple I think are the most successful and refine them as sketches.
Technically speaking I scan in my final pencil sketch and use that as a guide by placing it on a layer and using it as a guide to start creating my final piece. I include a lot of hand-painting textures, lines and splatters but make those separately based on the project and bring them into Illustrator CC.
In one word describe how you feel when staring at that blank canvas.
Do you feel like your art could change how people perceive the features in Creative Cloud and/or aid their interpretation of how to use them?
Ultimately what I hope is people see my interpretation of each CC feature and it inspires them to dig deeper into the content—either because they responded to my piece, hated my piece, or were just interested in the content. Regardless I hope my illustration intrigues users enough to keep learning about the features in Creative Cloud.
Did the Learn content entice you to try applications you’d never used before?
Absolutely. After watching and reading content in the Learn section I immediately began exploring and playing with applications I’d used before and others for the first time.
Spoiler Alert: Like reading the last page of a book, hearing how a movie ends, or learning the answer to a hard-to-solve puzzle… Tad was gracious enough to offer insight into the concepts behind his art:
New Document in Illustrator CC: I landed where I did because I like the concept that what we create takes over our worlds. I know when I start a new project it’s all I can think about. All the sketches, paint textures, and notes from meetings literally cover my desk. When we create a new file in Illustrator CC it takes over our world, seeping out of us and into the software. We are what we make.
Auto-trace and Resolution in Illustrator CC: When I was given this topic I immediately liked the idea of emphasizing the heightened resolution Illustrator CC now offers in auto-tracing. I very rarely use auto-trace but I do understand its purpose and how important resolution is to the people who use it. I wanted to show this in a simple manner. Showing how everything else might have looked one way but when using what Adobe now offers it can look so much better and different.
Arrowheads in Illustrator CC: Arrowheads are often forgotten in the large amount of tools Illustrator CC offers. Simple in nature they’re often used as accents. But arrowheads, and simple, strong, support shapes like them, can really bring creations to life. When I first started pencil sketching ideas, I really liked the idea of creating an image made entirely of arrowheads—not as a support players but as the stars. I love the mid-century feel a lot of the arrowhead shapes naturally have and wanted to play this idea up more in my color choices and overall layout. I drew some of the arrowheads but many of them are provided in Illustrator CC.
Modeling and printing 3D objects can seem like daunting tasks but in this new Adobe Learn tutorial, I’ll show you how Photoshop CC simplifies the process. Not only will it get you into the exciting field of 3D design and printing but, best of all, you won’t even need your own 3D printer.
Watch three short videos, practice and print with the sample file included in the tutorial, and you’ll be designing and printing your own 3D objects in no time.
In the first video of the series, you’ll see how easy it is to convert a simple 2D pendant design into a 3D model, then customize the design to change the depth and size of the object for print.
In the second, I’ll walk you through the process of choosing different materials for your object and uploading your model from Photoshop CC to Shapeways.com, for printing; you’ll also learn how Adobe’s partnership with this 3D printing service makes it easy to upload and print 3D models and get lightning-fast delivery of your objects.
Once you’re ready to show off your designs, or get inspiration from other designers, watch the third video to learn how to share your 3D models on Behance or your own website.
Now… Grab the tutorial files and give it a try.
More tutorials from Adobe Learn.
With the breadth of digital tools available in Creative Cloud, our members have access to applications they’ve never used before… or never even thought to try. Maybe you’re a web designer interested in learning to use our pro video tools; maybe you’re an illustrator who finally wants to learn to use our digital imaging software; or maybe you just want to get the most out of Behance and Typekit.
No matter what you want to learn, or why you want to learn it, now’s the time to try the Adobe tools you’ve never tried before:
The 30- to 90-minute courses will be available from 3:00pm to 6:00pm PST (6:00pm to 9:00pm EST and 11:00pm to 2:00am GMT). The courses are free to the general public for three hours and available on-demand to KelbyOne members.
So block off your weekday evenings in February. Then decide whether you’d like to learn more about Typekit, Illustrator CC and InDesign CC; Photoshop CC, Premiere Pro CC and After Effects CC; or Behance, Muse CC and Camera Raw. And, finally, remember to head over to KelbyOne on Mondays to check on the courses for the week.
Monday February 3
Photoshop CC Basics for Photographers with Matt Kloskowski
Tuesday February 4
Illustrator CC Basics with Pete Collins
Wednesday February 5
Premiere Pro CC Basics with Brandon Ford
Thursday February 6
InDesign CC Basics with Terry White
Friday February 7
Adobe Typekit with Corey Barker
Monday February 10
Getting Started with Acrobat CC with RC Concepcion
Tuesday February 11
Adobe After Effects CC Basics with Corey Barker
Wednesday February 12
Getting Started with Bridge CC with Mia McCormick
Thursday February 13
Illustrator CC: Beyond the Basics with Corey Barker
Friday February 14
Lightroom 5 Basics for Photographers with Matt Kloskowski
Monday February 17
Premiere Pro CC for Photographers with Terry White
Tuesday February 18
The Essentials of Typography with Scott Kelby
Wednesday February 19
Getting Started with Audition CC with RC Concepcion
Thursday February 20
On Using Behance with Pete Collins
Friday February 21
Premiere Pro CC Beyond the Basics with Brandon Ford
Monday February 24
Muse CC for Photographers with Terry White
Tuesday February 25
Camera Raw Basics with Scott Kelby
Wednesday February 26
Getting Started with Kuler with Pete Collins
Thursday February 27
Getting Started with Prelude CC with RC Concepcion
Friday February 28
Photoshop CC for Designers with Corey Barker