When we saw Brian Yap’s Vector Drawing on The Go post on INSPIRE, about his Adobe Shape CC to Adobe Illustrator CC work process, we had a few questions about how using Shape to capture the flicker of an idea eventually translates into a full-blown illustration or design concept. Since he’s now an associate creative director on Adobe’s Studio Team, we caught up with him about his process, his technique, and how he feels about the tools.
What Brian had to say about mobile apps and productivity, his obsession with layers, and the value of being truly satisfied with each step in the creative process:
What’s the value of capturing a vector outline in Shape (as opposed to drawing it yourself)? Shape is perfect for when you want a quick and loose outline of an image, even if you end up heavily drawing over it, it saves tons of time and creates some cool effects (it reminds me what we used to get from double and triple xeroxing images.)
Alternatively, when you do sketch on paper, how nice is it to be able to capture one of your own sketches in Shape without having to trace it in Illustrator CC? As the app gets better and better I fully expect to be able to capture sketches straight to vector that will need very little clean up. I’m excited to see where that workflow leads.
How much refinement do you usually do once you have an image in Shape? Do you prefer to start with as many details as possible? Or just a basic outline? So far, I’ve been pushing the detail all the way up to capture as much as possible, but there’s so much more you can play with by lowering that or reversing the capture.
We know you use Adobe Illustrator Draw for a lot of away-from-your-desk drawing. How much easier is it to transfer your work between the three applications now that there’s Creative Cloud Libraries? I honestly can’t emphasize enough how important it is to me that all the Adobe apps are connected through Creative Cloud Libraries. It makes the pure act of working and creating seamless. Ease of use and accessibility to all of my files is huge to me.
You sound really organized. How do you feel about using CC Libraries to organize your content from the time you capture it until the time you complete it? Without a doubt, CC Libraries has made moving from mobile to desktop incredibly simple. The mobile apps, especially the ones that allow you to capture things out in the world, really need that connection and accessibility to be useful. I don’t ever have to think about where my captures are.
How has your drawing process changed since you started incorporating mobile apps into it? Working digitally, and with drawing apps on a tablet, I’ve become insanely more productive. I used to be scared to “waste time” trying different things; now I don’t ever stop at just the first pass at doing something. I used to draw on sketch pads, and when deadlines were limiting, moved on to the next step as soon as something looked successful, then I’d lament later that it could be better.
I know every artist says that, but there’s value in getting to that point of true satisfaction. What you learn in those last steps ALWAYS comes through in the final piece. Working with mobile apps and ingesting them into my process has opened all those possibilities back up to me. Recently I’ve been experimenting more—letting my drawing style loosen up, starting with photographic reference and captures in Shape, and playing more and more with different tools.
You described your layer management system by saying, “I usually select each color and merge all shapes of each color to keep things tidy.” Does your layers management begin in Draw or do you not worry about it until you get the art into Illustrator CC? Okay, I’m a little bit obsessive, so I start right away getting to know layers in whatever application they’re in. When you think about it, layers are the greatest and purist advantage to working digitally.
I mostly split colors into different layers. As the piece gets more and more complex, this really helps when I want to edit something. Then when I take something into Illustrator CC, the organization transfers over. (I take it one step further and merge all objects of the same color to make it easy to edit color.) And, since my style tends toward flat poster color style work, I often restrict myself to three or four colors, with an eye towards screen printing.
What’s the distinction between how you use Adobe Draw and how you use Illustrator CC to fine-tune your work? I almost always do my loose drawing in Draw. I like the feel of the tablet in my hand (akin to a sketchbook) and being able to do a ton of my drawing on the couch or on my commute. There was always a threshold point though where I would move it into Illustrator CC to finish the job. But, in truth, that point is becoming a grey area. With the Touch Slide tools in Draw, Shape and Color, I can do a lot more just on my iPad. But I’ve even started drawing more in Illustrator CC with the Surface Pro 3, so it’s turning into a decision I make based on the project.
Out of curiosity, how many image traces do you have in your Shape libraries? Ha, you might be scared… I would guess, that in 4 or 5 different libraries, maybe 50–75. I’m working on another experiment and that particular library is getting out of control (and, as the app grows I expect that to get a lot bigger).
If it’s not a secret, what are you working on now/next? I have a few things going right now, one of them purely for fun and experimentation, that I’m really excited about. I captured a ton of Shape graphics on a recent trek to Muir woods and want to develop a portrait of John Muir using those as textures. They’re so complex that just trying to use the photos I took and draw over them would be monumentally time consuming. But I found the place so inspiring that I think having the image be built from those captures will imbue the illustration in a way that simply drawing his portrait could never match.