Adobe Creative Cloud

Make It on Mobile: An Identity Designer Returns to His Roots with Adobe Mobile Apps

Spencer Watson designs event identities. That’s roughly eight hours a day of creating web and print collateral for corporate conferences and enormous events. It means being agile enough to meet the needs of printers, clients and sponsors as they evolve. All while adhering to the ever-looming deadline. When your day to day is made up of equal parts of excitement and chaos, you’ve got to find a way to unwind.

So Spencer paints. But he isn’t bound to locational constraints that using traditional brushes and canvas bring. He shared how Adobe mobile apps like Photoshop Sketch and Adobe Capture CC enable him to create wherever his next event takes him. Plus, all of his art can be sent to desktop apps like Photoshop CC and Illustrator CC, so he can add any extra touches when he’s ready.


Tell us a bit about your background as a designer.

My career in art and design started in high school. I was painting a lot of things that really excited me from a structure, material and texture perspective. After high school I got heavily into graphic design. I graduated from the Art Institute of Vancouver a year later and began working for Vancouver’s most prominent event companies, creating graphics for street posters and building creative design for major international brands. The fast-paced event, culture and social environment constantly inspires my urban sketch style.

But it wasn’t until the Adobe mobile apps came out that I got back into painting. Adobe mobile apps bring my current role together with my background in art and design in a new kind of way.

How did you begin drawing with Photoshop Sketch and other Adobe mobile apps?

Being a graphic designer I am already heavily involved with Adobe desktop apps, so it didn’t take me long to move to their mobile apps. I was drawing on my Wacom, but felt confined to my office space. I needed a way to draw, share content and take notes on the go.

How has mobile changed your workflow?

I work freelance, so Capture CC and Photoshop Sketch really help me be mobile. Moving from event to event as often as I do, I needed something that I could carry around to quickly show clients sketches and ideas without having to bring along my computer. Also, the mobile apps have introduced the ability for me to bring outdoor inspiration into my designs.


Can you walk us through the steps you take to create a portrait in Photoshop Sketch?

First I find an interesting looking model. I begin by roughly tracing over the subject with a light pencil tool while also separating the shadows and highlights. I then add a color theme from Adobe Capture CC and use it to draw around the model.

Things get messy from here… I begin with a thick, dark brush for the hair and shadows. I then move into the model’s facial features with a thinner, lighter brush. I add accent colors and custom splatters. Lots of scribbling is key here.


What kinds of challenges do you run into during your design process? How do you resolve them?

These types of illustrations are always hit or miss. A lot of scribbling goes on, so the illustration will either turn out or be a total mess. A challenge I always run into are lips. Lips to me are the hardest part of the face to draw and they always give me a hard time. But having the ability to go back to previous steps in Photoshop Sketch definitely helps resolve this issue.

How much time do you usually spend on a piece?

These illustrations can take anywhere from an hour to five hours since they are mostly scribbles. It really just comes down to the piece and how much detail it needs to look its best.

What’s your favorite part of the design process?

Finishing the piece. A lot of the time these paintings drive me nuts, so finishing them is always a great feeling. I will usually only finish one out of every ten pieces.

Any tips you can pass along to a designer looking to get out of the office and explore mobile illustration?

The biggest tip I have is to remember that for once you’re not wasting any paper, paints or inks, so the possibilities are endless. And free of charge. If an illustration isn’t working out, just keep adding until it does.

Illustration & Drawing, Mobile