Things you wish you would have learned long ago

I’ve been using illustrator now since oh version 1.4 or something and I think it’s crazy how I’m still always learning on it. For example, for some silly ass reason I never bothered to really get used to setting up symbol libraries and custom user profiles. Finally after all this time I set up a user profile with custom swatches and symbols that I use every time I start up a new document. What a time saver.


And then I find this gem in Computer Arts latest edition. Here’s a tip from Luke O’Neil on blending paths. Now I’ve used blending paths quite a bit but I had no idea you could shape them to a custom spline.


05___ Creating blends between two objects is easy in illustrator. You draw 2 objects and go to Object>Blend>Make or, alternatively, specify the number of steps you’d like in the options box. It’s also possible to change the direction of the blend by simply drawing a path and, with the blend and path selected, going to Object>Blend>Replace Spine.

How about you, anything you recently discovered that you are kicking yourself in the ass for not using earlier?

Texture Tutorials

While working on a recent freelance job, I stumbled upon a great website,  MY Ink BLOG, with some realistic texture tutorials for grass, wood, stone and water.  Andrew Houle, the creator of the site uses various filters in each of these tutorials to achieve the desired results.

Specifically, the following are the texture tutorials:

Creating a Realistic Water Texture in Photoshop

Water Tutorial

Creating a Realistic Wood Texture Using Photoshop


Creating a Realistic Stone Texture Using Photoshop


Create an Awesome Grass Texture in Photoshop


The site has a great selection of Photoshop tutorials as well as so many other resources for Illustrators and Designers, that could be valuable in future.  Make sure you check it out!

Do you know any good websites for creating textures or have any “tricks” you use to save time on your illustrations?

Kevin Hulsey

Kevin Hulsey - Radiance of the Seas Cutaway Illustration

Radiance of the Seas Cutaway - Copyright © 2010 Kevin Hulsey Illustration, Inc. All rights reserved.

Kevin Hulsey - Radiance of the Sea Process

Radiance of the Sea Process - Copyright © 2010 Kevin Hulsey Illustration, Inc. All rights reserved.

“Any subject-matter is no more, or less, complicated than any other if you break it into small enough sections. A big, complex object like a car, plane or ship is just 30 or 40 small illustrations that happen to occupy the same space.”

The career of technical illustrator extraordinaire Kevin Hulsey is nothing short of prolific. His client list reads like a roll call of the world’s major transportation, technology, manufacturing and entertainment companies. His work has been recognized with numerous awards from Belding, Best in the West, Communication Arts Magazine, and the Art Directors Club Of Los Angeles. He began his trade with an airbrush in hand, then traded it in for a Wacom tablet and made the leap to digital media. And his website is an abundant source of inspiration, with illustrations of mind-boggling complexity and accuracy and myriad resources, articles and tutorials.

This all keeps Mr. Hulsey rather busy—unfortunately for us too busy for an interview. However, with his permission, I’ve collected some links to images, resources, and an interview he did with another site:

Kevin Hulsey - Pickup Truck Cutaway

Pickup Truck Cutaway - Copyright © 2010 Kevin Hulsey Illustration, Inc. All rights reserved.

Kevin Hulsey - Automobile Motor Illustration

Motor Illustration - Copyright © 2010 Kevin Hulsey Illustration, Inc. All rights reserved.

“Even after nearly thirty years, and thousands of illustrations, it is still fun to see your work on a billboard or in a magazine, particularly when you aren’t expecting it.”

Big thanks to Mr. Hulsey for sharing his time and work with us, and all the amazing resources on his site!

Update: Wacom case-study on Mr. Hulsey.

All images copyright © 2010 Kevin Hulsey Illustration, Inc. All rights reserved.

Tutorial – Advanced Isometrics

Stratocaster Exploded Isometric

In the last tutorial I covered how to make an isomeric grid and build simple blocky shapes on it. In this tutorial I’m going to talk about another method of creating isometric shapes that doesn’t require a grid and is much more useful if your objects are complex or curvy.

When creating a complicated isometric illustration it’s best to begin by breaking down your object into its simplest parts. This will help to make the project more approachable. It is possible to make the most complex objects entirely on an isometric grid using the method I discussed in the last tutorial. There is another method that is much more useful for creating curvy or complex isometric objects in Adobe Illustrator. I’m going to call this method scale, shear, rotate or SSR.

The basic idea behind the SSR method is by using tools in adobe illustrator you can place an object onto an isometric plane without using a grid. This method is most useful for curvy or complex objects but it will work for anything. I’ll begin simply by making an isometric cube.
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Pricing Technical Illustration

Pricing Technical Illustration

When freelancing as a technical illustrator, deciding what to charge clients can be as delicate and precise an art as technical illustration itself.

Here are three key factors to consider when quoting on a project:

  • How much of my time & resources will the project take, and what is that worth?
  • What is the ‘going rate’? What do other illustrators charge?
  • What will the market bear?

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Tutorial – Orthographic Projections & Basic Isometrics

Basic Isometrics

Basic isometrics

This is the first part in a series of tutorials about Isometrics. Isometric projections are a system of drawing that allows an artist to quickly and accurately draw an object without using perspective. I will go into more depth about isometrics later in this tutorial. I’m going to begin by talking about a system that is commonly used with isometrics.
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