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They easily make us laugh, but caricature design is a tough form to master. Here, one has to feel the expression and manifest it through the use of colours and exaggerations. Keya Mahata dwells on these to bring characters to life. Below, she takes us through a demonstration for caricature design of Steven Tyler.

Caricature

Step 1 

At first, various high resolution reference images of the subject are selected which are then arranged on a layer in Photoshop. A jpeg file of the reference is created as well.

Caricature

Step 2 

This is followed by using a white page Photoshop as a canvas. Then, using a 19 pt brush, started drawing. While drawing a caricature, it’s important to retain the basic form and character of the Steven Tyler and simultaneously exaggerating what is necessary.

Caricature

Step 3 

This way, full drawing of the subject is completed. While doing so, focus on the expression and never deviate from it.

Caricature

Step 4 

The layer is then copied and coloured in. A de-saturated colour is used to make it soft.

Caricature

Step 5 

Once coloured in, the opacity of the brush is reduced and the colours are merged. The teeth are made yellow with some bits of grayish colour to resemble the real person.

Caricature

Step 6 

Once the facial colours are set, detailing of the face is carried out. This includes wrinkles of the eye to making his singing posture. One thing to take note of is the filling in of a darker shade in one side of the character’s face in order to give it 3D feel.

Caricature

Step 7 

In this step, some off white colour on nose, tongue and check is also used to give a highlight.

Caricature

Step 8 

Once, the colouring in of the face is completed, the body is started off with.

Caricature

Step 9 

For the body, once again a desaturated colour tone is used. It’s important to maintain wrinkles to maintain his aged body.

Caricature

Step 10 

Once the body is finished, the focus is on the hair. Gentle brushes are used to soften this area. Various shades of browns and blondes are used to define volume and depth.

Caricature

Step 11

Dark brown and shade of gray is used for the dark part of the hair.

Caricature

Step 12

This particular shade makes the hair appear soft and effortless.

Caricature

Step 13

After careful finish of the hair, additional detailing is carried out using a brush on shape dynamic mode. A brush on colour dodge mode is also used to add highlight.

Caricature

Step 14

Once hair is completed, a little bit of highlight is added on the whole figure.

Caricature

Step 15

After fully finishing hair and body, the background is coloured in with semi-violet. Some yellow is also added to establish lighting, giving the overall design a bright look. A large brush is used for this step.

Caricature

Step 16 

The lemon yellow colour is softened and then blended with the violet background.

Caricature

Step 17

A spotlight is then created using off white colour and a round brush.

Caricature

Step 18

Once the whole body, hair and background is finished, selected areas are infused with shadows using brushes on multiply mode.

Caricature

Step 19 

Finally, the caricature design is finished with the addition of slight brushing and leveling.

Product and Automobile Design

Published in Issue 27

This issue explores one of the widely discussed product design and automobile #design which is very close to our heart. We spoke to few leading names to find out the future of product design and understand the Indian designer sensibilities and practices. Everyone believe that it’s not just functionality but also the visual appeal of the product which plays a crucial in the success of a product. This issue is a bundle of inspirations and insights from the well know product and automobile designers. A must read which you will enjoy for sure.

 

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It’s a digital age, one doesn’t need a subject to pose before them for hours, simply a photograph is enough. Graphic design student, Sri Harsha Andukuri takes us through a step by step guide on making a digital portrait of any famous celebrity, in this case, Hollywood’s own Scarlett Johansson.

Step 1

Fixing the Canvas and Preparing the Outline

The process of portrait begins by fixing of the canvas. This is achieved through Photoshop, where a new file is opened with an A3 size. This is followed by creating an outline of the image using a red colour, on a new layer. The colour red is selected because it highlights profiles and edges in the middle of the painting. Then, marking of highlights and shadows in a new layer using red colour and a textured brush with opacity 7% and 14%.

Step 2 

Filling Base Colour for Skin

Once the above step is completed to satisfaction, a colour palette of shades, tints and neutrals are made for the skin. A new layer is then added and a neutral colour with full opacity is used as the base colour for the body. At this point, any colour exceeding outlines is erased.

Digital Portrait of Scarlett Johansson

Step 3 

Detailing the Face

This is then followed by creating a new layer yet again, where the base colour of the eyes is filled using a brush with full opacity. Here, colours exceeding any outline are erased. Subsequently, a new layer is created for highlights, shadows and details for the eyes. The next step requires painting in highlights and shadows of the nose and other facial areas using a colour palette with a textured brush bearing 7%, 14% and 21% opacities.

Step 4 

Detailing the Lips

Following the fixed colour palette, a base colour is filled with 100% opacity first for the lips. Highlights and shadows of the lips are drawn in a new layer with a small size textured brush with 7% opacity. Using a small brush at this point enhances precision and detail.

Step 5 

Painting Rest of the Skin 

Going further down, shadows and highlights of the neck area, collarbone and chest are painted using the colour palette for the skin.  Used a textured brush of opacity 7% and 14% in a new layer.

Step 6 

Painting the Dress 

In a similar way, the base colour, shadows and highlights of the dress and its drapes are painted. Here too, a separate colour palette is fixed for this.

Step 7 

Painting the Hands 

Keeping shadows and highlights in mind, the arms are also painted in a similar way as in step 5.

Step 8 

Detailing the Hair 

The most challenging part of the portrait is a painting of the hair. The most time-consuming step; a new layer is filled with the solid base colour of hair, taken from a selected colour palette. Carefully then, hair is divided and marked into different parts according to its flow. This is followed by the creation of another new layer in which a number of strokes are drawn along the flow of hair in each and every part which is marked. A new layer over this one is then added which is used to blend all these parts using a brush with less opacity, in order to link the hair flow.

Step 9 

Fixing the Background

Finally, a new layer is added below all of these layers and filled with a solid colour. A shade of the base colour is selected, as in the palette, and is painted in a new layer to create a vignette feeling to the background. Another layer is subsequently added in which a 30% opacity gradient of black colour in multiple modes is employed. Upon completion, save the file as a jpeg and open in Adobe Lightroom where the portrait can be post edited for the desired outcome.

Published in Issue 25

Creative Gaga kicks off the year with an issue that asks the important questions, is it the web that’s leading the brands or the other way around? With 2014 witnessing an increase in brands investing in digital marketing, 2015 will only be bigger. We can say India has accepted the revolution, where more and more people are opening browsers to e-commerce, literally window shopping, and setting up shops online as well. The issue brings together renowned designers with digital experience, who discuss and throw light on the pros and cons of this change and where we possibly are headed with this in the future.

 

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Concept Artist, Raj Khatri, takes us through his step-by-step fan art progression of his favourite band, Iron Maiden. Starting with the initial sketches in the pages of his college notebook, he transports the sketching into the elaborate stages of adding drips and streaks; highlighting; playing with tones, and such other details, before finally reaching the envisioned representation.

From Sketch To Canvas

What Raj Khatri began as light sketches between the lines of his college notebooks, eventually found expression on the digital canvas. He executed and represented his love for the British band, Iron Maiden, through the application of layering processes; complex colour blocking; shading and blending, and the likes. He elaborates, in detail, each of these steps in detail, thus showcasing what it took to arrive at the final picture.

Step1 Tutorial The Poster of Pure Iron Love - Creative Gaga

Step 1

Started out by scanning copies of original sketches from my college notebooks, done in 2000-2001, proceeding onto digitally cleaning and balancing the black values to get the details and contrast out from the scanned images.

Step2 Tutorial The Poster of Pure Iron Love - Creative Gaga

Step 2

Since Iron Maiden are a British band, composing all of them in the shape of the Union Jack was the base concept, digitally linking the sketches was a primary step.

Step 3 Tutorial The Poster of Pure Iron Love - Creative Gaga

Step 3

Ready for digital painting, the first shading of mid tones were applied onto the top character, likewise isolating the layout into individual characters, before adding the second layer of shading and blending.

Stepa4 Tutorial The Poster of Pure Iron Love - Creative Gaga

Step 4

Shading with dark tones and blending in together, creases and wrinkles were brought into effect, adding the first layer of highlight.

Step 5

Colour blocking was applied to the second character, Eddie from ‘Seventh Son from the Seventh son’, followed by Midtone shading, highlighting and blending for the second character.

Step 6(a) Tutorial The Poster of Pure Iron Love - Creative Gaga
Step6 (b) Tutorial The Poster of Pure Iron Love - Creative Gaga

Step 6

The same process was then executed for the third character, Eddie from ‘Fear of The Dark’, as also for the fourth character, Eddie from ‘Best of the Beast’.

Step7 Tutorial The Poster of Pure Iron Love - Creative Gaga

Step 7

Recomposing all the shaded characters back together, adding a flat colour behind, made it possible to see how the shape was forming or coming together.

Step8 Tutorial The Poster of Pure Iron Love - Creative Gaga

Step 8

Proceeded onto colouring the characters using the gradient map, then drawing the basic shapes and streaks for drips on it.

Step9 Tutorial The Poster of Pure Iron Love - Creative Gaga

Step 9

Toning the dark values of red, and balancing the overall colour spectrum of the layout, before painting the details of shadows and highlights on the drips, finally adding the round edged border to the layout.

Step 10

Added more details to the drips, also placing the painted logo of the band in the center.

Step11 Tutorial The Poster of Pure Iron Love - Creative Gaga

Step 11

Adding additional drips and more details to them; adding shadow to the logo. Applied a layer of flash off-whitish beige colour on top of all layers in the ‘Darken’ mode.

Step12 Tutorial The Poster of Pure Iron Love - Creative Gaga

Step 12

Final colour adjustment, using colour balance and levels to manage the overall contrast and red values. Added sharpness by taking a merged copy of the layout on top of all layers and adding the ‘Sharpen’ filter. Then reducing the capacity to 60-70% as per your taste and finally completing the artwork.

Pitch your Dream Client! - Issue-37 Creative Gaga

Published in Issue 37

To answer some of the basic questions for designers, freelancers and creative studios, we interviewed some of the creative legends to guide and share their wisdom. The issue includes interactions with Preeti Vyas from VGC on ‘How to pitch for clients or retain the existing one’ and Ashish Deshpande from Elephant on ‘Challenges of working with a startup’. A must read, if you are planning for the financial year ahead or worried about your handling your money matter, this issue can give you much-needed insight and guide you to a better financial health of your business or freelancing. So don’t wait, just order your copy NOW!

 

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For an artist, the images you grow up with, linger on for long. As you grow, you think of recreating them, basis your understanding and expertise. That’s exactly what designer Sandeep Menon does with a traditional image he has grown up with. He gives it a twist and renders it in a new form. He explains how.

Traditional

Step 1

Collected reference as the first step. Looked to some of these traditional images while starting the project. It’s a good practice to go back to reference images while recreating something.

Traditional

Step 2

Started by doing some head studies. These were just explorations of the mask and an exercise to get into the world of Kathakali. The attempt was to achieve something that was semi-realistic in style.

Traditional

Step 3

Decided on the final sketch. Started by drawing the heads and the rest of the body evolved. Since the character had multiple heads, it seemed natural to give it several arms.

Traditional

Step 4

Started with a black background. Black would bring out the vibrant colours and the gold accents against a dark background.

Traditional

Step 5

Next, the background was given a gradient wash, so that it feels like the light source was on the top. Gradient tool was used for the purpose.

Step 6

Scanned the sketch and dropped it on the background, on a Multiply layer.

Step 7

Started blocking in solid colours. Not really focussed on the rendering but got the colours right at this stage. Used a simple solid round brush.

Step 8

Established a light source on the top, slightly towards the left. Started rendering the character by using a combination of brushes. To push the coolness in the shadows, added a little bit of blue to all the shadows.

Step 9

Since the main focus lay on the heads, zoomed in and started working on them. It’s important not to add details all over the image but save it for where you want to lead the viewer’s eyes.

Step 10

To give highlights to the gold material, used the colour dodge tool. Set the highlight mode to 15%.

Step 11

Arrived at the final image. Note that a shadow was added to the base to ground the character. Also, the painting style changed from the centre, where it was detailed to the base, where it was loose and very rough.

Published in Issue 15

In this issue, we invited leading Gaming professionals to share their inspirations along with their suggestions to improve the Gaming Art in India. Featuring some of the big names of Gaming Art like Vinay Vikram Singh, Sandeep Menon and Neeraj Menon along with Internationally renowned Russian studio, ‘Grafit Studio‘ and many more talented creatives. So, go ahead

 

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Meditation, Motivation and Manifestation are the 3Ms that Lovely Kukreja, relies on while illustrating. Taking us on step-by-step approach through his painting Goddess Durga, he explains the basic guidelines that play a pivotal role in the final outcome.

Meditation

Nowhere related to the spiritual practice, meditation, here is the thought process, creative thinking before starting any project.

Step 1

Great ideas start as random scribbles (thumbnails, rough drawings and armatures). This will help in deciding the posture angle and composition. While doing these initial sketches, it’s important to mull over the subject aka meditate to set the mood; the vital areas to focus on to bring in freshness.

Step 2

Once satisfied with the sketch of Goddess Durga, start blocking tones in the grey-scale mode with the basic air-brush. You don’t really have to go fancy by trying several textured brushes. Just do the basic block-in while keeping the area to be focused well-lit.

Step 3

Convert your painting to RGB mode and start adding colours on a layer overlaid on it. Choose colour palette as per the theme. For the Goddess Durga painting here, I chose the unsaturated soft shades. Close your eyes and try to see the picture you have in your thoughts.

Tip

Stay away from textured brushes as it may blur the edges of your drawing.

Motivation

Never search for style, but study. This is where research comes into the picture; the motivation gained from creative intuition, studies and reference materials. At this stage, it is important to collect facts about the subject of creation.

Step 4

Once the basic look and the feel of the painting is established, bringing the volume on each object can begin with the direction of light decided in the very beginning. At this stage, it is important to collect facts about the subject of creation.

Step 5

Detailing the elements e.g. water, foliage, trees and grass. Motivation is the key, to paint better with each stroke passing.

Step 6

Now it’s time to break the barriers and go beyond the sketch. After deciding the intricate details (cloth texture, ornaments, fur and hair), paint over the sketch on a new layer with free-hand for each subject.

Tip

If you are in process of learning to paint, try not to use any image.

Manifestation

It finally boils down to manifesting all the effort, knowledge and studies into strokes of brush applied. This is when you bring ideas to life. Those final touches, elaborating it with all those tiny details is vital to make it your personal piece of work.

Step 7

The working area is closed and fine details are added to each object after thorough research.

Step 8

Tonal values, sharpness and colour balance is adjusted.

Tip

Stay away from textured brushes as it may blur the edges of your drawing.

Step 9

Adding foreground elements gives a sense of depth to the scene. Elements like foliage, leaves and any life-full character create liveliness.

Tip

I suggest you to always keep the subject close to its originality. You are allowed to bring freshness while you keeping it intact within logical boundaries.

Issue 40-Motion Graphics Special

Published in Issue 40

We all have favourite TV shows and we passionately discuss the stories and characters of it. But sometimes, we tend to ignore the channel and its branding. Now with many different channels to choose from, we are experiencing many new branding overhauls to grab the audience’s attention. In this issue, we focused on Motion Graphics design and people behind some awesome channel rebrandings. If you are interested in moving design or animated content then this issue is a must-read for you! So go ahead and order your copy or subscribe if you want to keep receiving your regular dose of inspirations!

 

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They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery. For a designer, it doubles up as a way to pay homage to an icon and inspiration. Digital artist Pankaj Bhambri re-creates a portrait of the duo from a reference picture, adulation and following. He explains how.

Step 01

Picked the reference image to start the portrait. Observed three things that would play an important role in the illustration – mid tone, highlights, and shadows.

Step 02

Started with basic doodling. Worked in layers as that would help to separate elements in the composition and allow experimenting with lights.

Step 03

Found a cardboard texture on the net. Used it as a base for the illustration which would act as a middle tone. Multiplied that layer after importing it into the composition.



Step 04

Refined the doodle a little more and then started with wet media brushes with the respective colour palettes. The first palette was for Lata Mangeshkar while the second one was for Asha Bhonsle.

Step 05

Started with blocking shadows first with thick round brush of size 12 px.

Step 06

Added black with round wet brush for more details in shadows. Downloaded ink splatter brushes from the net. Used them in different angles as highlights in the composition.

Step 07

Used one of those brushes with scattering count 5. Refined till the desired effect was achieved. Used a round brush of 3 px for detailing with stylized black and white lines.



Step 08

With the colour palette for Asha Bhonsle, started blocking shadows and then highlights. Lots of practice and observation of objects in different lightings helped in this job.

Step 09

Blocked with the colours in the palette choosing dark for shadows and light for highlights.

Step 10

For highlighting, used a wet round brush with white colour as a contour over it.



Step 11

Used splatter brushes for final detailings.

Step 12

Made a random flow of colour to differentiate the main object from the background. This made the composition balanced. Used writing brushes downloaded from the net on the splatter layer that separated the background.

Step 13

Added writing brushes on a new layer and filled the splatter layer with different brush sizes. Erased the edges to blend the writing with the splatter brushes.



Step 14

Used floral texture downloaded from the net to give some interesting background.

Final Portrait

Published in Issue 11

This issue also explored the Jewellery Design & Wedding Photography with some cool techniques to learn from experts in Gyaan section.

 

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It’s a long way from an idea to an animated film. Particularly when you are creating your characters, environment etc. and then animating everything to come up with a nice narrative. Animation filmmaker Sonia Tiwari experienced that journey while making the short film ‘Bhavri’. She explains the process.

Storyboard and Animatic

Assuming that a solid story and basic character descriptions are in place, the first and foremost helpful thing in animation is a series of storyboards to visually put together the shots in progression. An animatic is putting storyboards on the editing timeline along with corresponding sound effects, voiceover and dialogue. It helps in getting an idea of timing, pacing, acting choices etc., which are very essential for animation.

Shot Analysis

Each shot must have a motivation. Before animation begins one must know the background story of characters, their body language, emotions, physical action, what needs to be conveyed in this shot and what is the time limit for the shot etc. If the shot needs to be for only 4 seconds, we need to cut down on the amount of physical action and make sure there is just enough animation to convey the emotions clearly.


3D Animatic

If one has a 3D animation pipeline, it’s important to begin with a 3D animatic or pre-viz reel, where we assemble all 3D assets such as models, rigged characters, stage setting, props, lights, textures etc. and block all the camera angles. This helps in animating to a camera, making one only animate stuff visible in the renderable camera, instead of animating everything there is in the scene. An important tip is to ‘reference’ all 3D assets in the scene, instead of importing them, so that it is easy to update modifications made to original assets.


Animation Thumbnails

Animation thumbnails can be inspired by the storyboard, but here is where the animator really breaks down the animation and plans out the use of animation principles like weight, anticipation, exaggeration, timing, pacing etc. Using video reference, acting out in front of a mirror, noting down the timing etc are all great resources to draw thumbnails from.


Animation Blocking

This is the first step in taking all the previous animation homework and putting it into the scene. In a 3D pipeline, many animators block the animation with a stepped tangent (used in Maya), block holds and gets the timing as accurate as possible. This is where all the ‘key-poses’ are blocked out and in most cases, all body parts are keyed together. Nothing is offset as of now, just to get a neat view of the overall action. Some animators find it easier to use spline tangents (used in Maya) right from the blocking stage. It all depends on individual convenience.


Animation First and Second Pass

This is where we layer in details in the blocking. For example, if a character is jumping and landing, both feet won’t land at the same time, they will now be offset. While in blocking we only blocked the key poses, now is the time to offset, add in-betweens, expressions etc. It’s all about getting the emotion right and balancing holds with motions.


Feedback Cycle

Ask your fellow animators or seniors for feedback, fix the shots, ask for feedback again and again till the fixing is finally done. One must also know the overall production deadline to know when to stop taking feedback and hit the render button. No shot is done 100% but it needs to be good enough for the production schedule and project requirement.


Final Animation

Accumulating all feedback and references, fixing and layering details in animation, bringing it as close to the director’s vision as possible, letting it go through post-production process and making it fit just right in the overall sequence, makes a shot final.

Published in Issue 13

Coming from a country of stories and storytellers, Indian animation professionals are sitting on a gold reserve. Yet, we are miles behind the Western world. We spoke to few leading names to find out the reason and understand the Indian animator’s sensibilities and practices The house unanimously opined that we need to develop more original ideas and also create exclusive stories for animation, rather than going the other way round.

 

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Faces are an interesting subject, and often we come across one that has an expression telling a story. Vivek Arvind Mandrekar saw one such story in  facial expression of Amitabh Bachchan and captured it by means of a digital painting. Below, he takes us through the various steps in order to tell and capture such tales.

Vivek_Feature - Amitabh Bachchan

SKETCH & BLOCKING

It is an important step to follow before starting any painting as the image size will be little heavy to change anything later. So firstly, a basic raw sketch is drawn on a colour background which is further blocked through flat colours for defining shadows and highlights in different layers while keeping sketch as a guideline. The required areas are then dabbed for a smooth blending.

Vivek_Feature - Amitabh Bachchan
Vivek_Feature - Amitabh Bachchan

SKIN

Step 01: This part is pretty straightforward, where blocked shadows and highlights are employed using basic selective skin tones.

 

Step 02: Further, various layers are painted using customised textured brush to obtain the final skin texture.

 

Step 03: The last thing missing from the skin is the realistic texture of pores and wrinkles. This is established using a scattered brush spread. Here, one must zoom in and out beyond actual pixels by studying the tiniest of areas to observe minute details with paint stroke of a customised textured brush. This is also one of the most time-consuming steps but makes all the difference.

Vivek_Feature - Amitabh Bachchan
Vivek_Feature - Amitabh Bachchan
Vivek_Feature - Amitabh Bachchan

BEARD

Step 01: The beard area is under painted by blocking the base with a hard brush. Each strand is then painted by changing the size, angle, roundness and hardness of the brush with each stroke.

 

Step 02: The same is continued by altering the opacity and dynamics of the brush and by zooming in further to work on individual hair strands. This is one of the toughest parts to execute.

Vivek_Feature - Amitabh Bachchan
Vivek_Feature - Amitabh Bachchan

HAIR

Step 01: For this part of the painting, both dark and light base is used as the base of the hair colour. Like the beard, here too each strand is stroked by changing opacity, angle and roundness of the brush.

 

Step 02: The base of each hair strand is then further built by applying a customised textured brush and painting each strand with a small hard brush to obtain the desired details.

Vivek_Feature - Amitabh Bachchan
Vivek_Feature - Amitabh Bachchan

HAND

Here, basic blocking with shadows and highlights is used followed by rendering to create soft focus effect with the help of a soft brush.

Vivek_Feature - Amitabh Bachchan
Vivek_Feature - Amitabh Bachchan

SHIRT

Once the beard and hands start taking shape, continue painting the shirt by filling in the creases with shadows and tones to achieve a proper compilation. Use light and dark tones to render the folds and blend with a soft brush. And finally, for thread stitch finish, use a medium hard sized brush.

Vivek_Feature - Amitabh Bachchan
Vivek_Feature - Amitabh Bachchan

EYES & SPECTACLES

Step 01: The eyebrows, eyelids, iris and pupils are painted using a basic brush by adding textures and colours. This is then blended with different layers and softhard brushes by masking the glass. The glasses are not painted in this instance. Instead, a pen tool is used to draw and clip mask, after which the edges of the glasses are painted.

 

Step 02: Once the eye basics are ready, the veins are painted and a sense of depth is added using a technique of zooming into each detail. Following this, the edges of the glasses are painted in. A great person to get inspired for spectacle painting techniques can be obtained by following the work of SheridanJ on her Deviantart page.

Vivek_Feature - Amitabh Bachchan
Vivek_Feature - Amitabh Bachchan

FINAL PHOTO

Once the painting of Amitabh Bachchan is ready, it is flattened and various dodge-burn tools have experimented for highlights and shadows. Furthermore, colour temperatures, balance and curves are also adjusted. Lastly, the background is worked upon through customised textured brushes and grading colours to a depth of field.

Vivek_Feature - Amitabh Bachchan

Published in Issue 28

This Illustration Special is best to know why and how illustration as a popular medium is taking the design world by storm! From evolution of illustrations to its place in the world today, renowned designers and illustrators like Abhishek Singh, Mukesh Singh, Archan Nair, Alicia Souza, Raj Khatri with some international talent such as Fil Dunsky from Russia, Iain Macarthur and Richard Field from UK, who live and breathe illustration, would be the right people to gain some insight from. With many more talents to explore with great insights and excellent techniques, again a fully packed issue is waiting to amaze you!

 

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E-commerce websites have become the driving force for businesses these days. With dynamic features like advanced filtering, animation, 360 degree product reviews and super product search, these have taken the web world by storm.

Such is the revolution that shopping is not just limited to women only rather is enjoyed by men through online stores with their extensive range of tech products. Now, there is something for everyone; yes, kids, parents and teenagers are in for some gain too. The main aim of these e-commerce sites is to engage with the web customers and cater to a wide set of target audience.

 

So, how can an ecommerce website emerge from good to best? Is it about looks or functionality? Do products matter or customer service? Or will the dash of extra features do the deed? Okay, that’s quite a thought. What’s sure here is that one thing won’t do; it is a game of parts! To get your conversion rates soaring high, it is important to be relevant and competitive in your elements. Of course there are no universal features or design elements that guarantee immense popularity, but there are general guidelines and also recommended options which shouldn’t be neglected at the time of creating an e-commerce website.

 

Here in this post you will find some very valuable tips for your layout that will surely make your online business flourish. But before we delve deeper let us look at some of the main goals that every e-commerce website plans to fulfill.

1. It’s All About Selling

There are many websites which are sheer wastage of time and effort. Why? The stores are designed just for the heck of it. There is no thought behind the creation. They are funky in looks but pretty useless when it comes to shopping. These websites are satisfied by just bringing the brand online or creating a physical store; for them, in the end, it is all about a big ‘buy’ button in a plain view. It is common for some businessmen, developers and designers to ignore such details, but in fact, these are the areas where they should pay a lot of attention.

e-commerce
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2. Highlight The Benefits

Displaying a list of product types or a grid can be the best thing for your online store. Highlighting the special deals and ‘what’s new’ categories can allure the web surfers to buy. In fact, there are many online surfers who aren’t even clear what they want and are in just for hanging out. As an online seller, you must poke the market and show the users what they are missing out on.

e-commerce
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3. Trust Is Must

People want to know what all is in store for them. That is the reason they are eager to know everything about the product they are willing to buy, the purchase procedure, payment methods, warranties and delivery service etc. i.e. all the details that will help them to finalize the decision and lock the transaction. Be particular that the relevant pages are linked well to the home page. Such a vision will prove helpful for the support team and will also lower the amount of pre-sale help requests.

 

Further, here are some features which will aid you in enhancing your web store usability and generating more profitability

shutterstock.com

4. Keep It Secure

Online transactions have become quite essential for us now. Because of their popularity, e-commerce websites can be a potential target for the cybercriminals. It is important for the online sellers to hide customer information and maintain necessary steps to ensure privacy. It all depends upon a secure e-commerce platform. With their line of advanced security features, it is no surprise that Magento and WordPress along with WooCommerce have become the big leaders of online sellers.

 

Make sure you have SSL certificate as it looks after safe connectivity between a user and the website. SSL certificate establishes an encrypted connection between the web server and visitor’s web browser. It means all communications or online transactions will be safe. Generally, E-commerce store runs over multiple sub-domains. So, You can secure your unlimited first-level sub-domains with PositiveSSL Wildcard Certificate of Comodo Certificate Authority for some of the cheapest SSL solutions.

 

Even you can also enable two-factor authentication as it certifies security by using username/password and a system-made code sent through email or text. Remember to use a firewall and give the policy link in the footer as it specifies the website’s privacy policies and guarantees the non-sharing of the customer data with third parties.

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5. The Resolution Rule

Earlier e-commerce websites could survive by just posting a single image with some bullet points and a price tag. Shoppers evaluate the product by looking at it from various angles and as per the demands of different environments. The power to zoom gives them better feel of the product.

Technical points of the images should be kept in mind while uploading the same. Images that pose problems while loading or take lot of time to load will lead to drop-off rate of about 39%. Remember it is the images that sell not text. So, keep in mind to show multiple images per product. Let the photos be checked with high resolution and optimization for better page load.


6. Route To Reviews

Shoppers are deeply influenced by reviews. As a matter of fact, 92% of them pay heed to them. The star rating on a product is a major game changer these days. You might be under the impression that negative reviews will ruin your sale but actually, it is the opposite case here. Negative reviews can turn out to be positive. It is the human psyche which feels that products without negative reviews are not worth a shot and thus, think all the positive reviews are fake.

 

Based on the website’s functionality, e-commerce can utilize plugins from the most sought after review platforms like Facebook, Yelp and Foursquare. Futuristic e-commerce sites are making use of reviews as user-generated content to build social proof and increase fan following.

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7. Best Offers

It is seen that majority of the e-commerce sites are resorting to the special offers tactics as a part of their marketing practices through social, email, text etc. People are very quick to pass judgment as to whether they like a website or not. So, making using of this trait you should try to capture their interest in a matter of seconds as soon as they enter the site. A small delay can cause them jumping to some other store with a more impressive home page. The sure shot way to pull your audience is through amazing shopping deals.

Many forward-looking websites make maximum use of the main real estate in the header section to sell special offers. When shoppers know that they are at advantage with a special deal, it inspires them to go ahead and purchase more than they intend to as well as explore more in the product section of the site. It is seen that millions of people get very excited during sales and discounted periods and go on a shopping spree just because the prices are slashed heavily in sale.

If a website wants to make the most from its current promotions, it is advisable to create a spectacular webpage that displays the lists of offers at hand, which will not only enhance sales but will be very useful for SEO as well. Alluring promises and different prices persuade the visitors to spend without giving a practical thought.

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8. The Pleasure of Wish Lists

Wish Lists- The ultimate love of every user. How we love keeping one for fashion, one for books to read, one for holiday gift ideas and the list goes on. Yes, it is all about shopping, saving and sharing! E-commerce sites which are still far from having wish lists are hampering sales and leaving them on the virtual desktop table. Customers can appreciate nothing more than having their favourite items bookmarked and then use them later to buy in the future.

This is actually giving them larger than life! And, of course, executing a fabulous remarketing campaign dream. It is also a good way to share your brand with the potential buyers. When shoppers open up their wish lists with their family and friends, it generates popularity and creates free traffic with built-in social proof to a website.

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9. Social Proof

Brands and online sellers that establish an emotional connection with the buyers score on the parameters of trust and advocacy. The social link is, without a doubt, the best platform to connect with your user these days. Integrating social profiles and user-generated content with an e-commerce site have become the need of the hour as it creates a strong brand character for the online sellers. Shoppers are flooded with a constant ping of ‘buy now’ and ‘get this’.

The brands that interact with the customers on a more social level create more loyal customers for life. Social media gives the e-commerce brands the platform to show their genuineness and establish an emotional link with the products.

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10. The Payment Mode

In this era of Apple Pay and PayPal, quick and easy payment options are an absolute necessity for an e-commerce website. Take, for instance, Amazon, there is nothing more wonderful in this world than getting the option to shop in a single click. Shoppers with registered accounts on Amazon can actually buy by mere one click. Currently, there are many advanced payment methods online. The trick is to understand the target audience and incorporating the most robust solutions. If a website lacks in payment options, be particular in stating the reason for so.

Like an e-commerce site can restrain from offering Bitcoin as a payment option after it discovers that the value isn’t reliable. If buyers are techno freaks who are more inclined towards payment method, it is crucial to be clear as to why that mode isn’t an available option. Being transparent works in favor of the brand as it builds a trust and establishes a stronger relationship with the buyers. Payment options can be accessed at the footer or on the top right corner of sites.

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11. Easy Contact

As we know that in an e-commerce website most of the business happens online and there is nothing more fulfilling than finding a clear-cut and well-designed ‘contact us’ feature. This implies particularly for high-end merchandise or technical products. Don’t make it tough for the buyer to contact for any query or to enable support. Place contact page as one of the prime features of the website. Facilitate multiple ways to reach the customer support via phone, email or through an online form. Some exquisite stores provide online appointment setting by the means of their contact page. Make a note to put in customer service social links and Google maps for locations.

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12. Return Policy

Return policies are a significant attribute of any e-commerce website. Make sure that the return policy is clear and well framed or explained. This is another customer bonding feature for online selling. This will satisfy the buyer that in case they are finding faults in their purchase or need a different size, the brand is open to making changes. The latest survey by Invesp reveals that almost 30% of the products ordered online are returned back. Also, 92% are eager to buy again if the product return policy is not complex and very easy to follow. Even 67% of shoppers check the returns page before making a purchase.

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Now you may find some of these tips very obvious and general and might be thinking ‘that’s not a big deal’. But even if the marketers and web designers feel that basic stuff like ease of use, high-resolution photos and contact information are quintessential details, remember these very points are itself the best practices and trademarks of awesome design. If you know most of the tips given in this post already and haven’t used them practically; buck up! It is never too late! The best blend that will make your e-commerce website scalable and robust is by combining the tried-and-tested features along with the unique elements to deliver powerful shopping experiences.

 

Article contribution by Think 360 Studio.

CURRENT ISSUE
Creative Gaga - Issue 49

 

Though we are a country full of festivals all around the year, but this special time of year when not only you change your calendar but also the gifts, family dinners, celebrations and new year resolutions all makes it a special time in everyone’s life. Nithin Rao Kumblekar decided to capture this memorable time for the cover of Creative Gaga. Here he explains his thought process and step by step tutorial.

For any painting, to begin with, sketching is not only the most basic but the most important thing. The whole painting depends on it and can be considered as the backbone of any painting.

 

Here, I have focused on the subject from the top angle with slight fisheye effect. I did some scribbles first and then fine tune the outlines to make the subject clearer for the next stage. For sketching, I use Adobe Photoshop with Wacom Cintiq monitor and several different brushes which give the real feel of sketching with the pencil.

I normally use “Hard Round Pressure Size” brush by enabling brush pressure as well as thickness buttons in the top brush control panel. This will serve the purpose of getting the pencil sketch effect. This feature is also useful while colouring.

I have kept the main source of light from top hence the play of light and shadows are pretty simple in this illustration. Also, the characters expressions play very well depending on how we choose to place the light source.

Here, I wanted to get the festive feel in the entire colour tone. So I chose to get the orange and yellow tone which gives a warm feeling in the environment. The final colour tone can also be achieved even at the last stage by adding just a flat colour layer on top of all layers and then by trying different mode options in the layer pallet. But here, I chose to set the colour tone layer by layer. I did not use any colour filters, as I mostly knew which tone the final illustration should have.

The character colouring steps

To avoid any spill of colours at this stage, start by creating the characters and the props in different layers. And If you want to colour a specific part without disturbing the nearby object then you need to create each and everything in different layers and then group it under the character or the object name.

 

For example, in this illustration, I’ve created layers for the skin and clothes within the characters. And for the background, there are many layers for all the objects and that is where you may get confused.

 

When you have multiple layers then the convenient way to work on the desired layer is to hold the control/command key and then click on the part of the illustration that you want to select. The correct layer will be selected and then for colouring, again hold the control/command key and click on the selected layer under the layer panel, this will highlight/select the layer with selection marquee and you can begin the colouring. There won’t be any spill of the colour outside this selection.

After all the characters and objects are coloured it is time for the background light fixes. In these images, you can see the difference as I’ve added slight glow as well as little shadows to make the characters stand out. And finally after completing everything sometimes you might want to change the size of some objects or change few colours. Since we had everything in layers it is easier to do these minor adjustments even at the final stage. I had increased the size of the boy by about 15%. And we have reached the final illustration.

I almost forgot to mention one important thing that to always save the file and keep duplicating it. As sometimes, the file might get corrupted due to some system error or something else. But If you have duplicate files then you don’t have to begin the illustration from scratch. So saving is a good habit but duplicating the files is even better. Good Luck!

Published in Issue 35

The season of the festival has started and everyone is preparing to have a unique one this time with less cash and more fun. We interview many creatives who creates promotional or calendar design each year. As most of the thing around us had shifted to digital, even calendar design and the promotion has shifted. But Yorick Pintos, a strategic consultant at studio Kohl suggests that best option would be to a mix of both, the traditional and digital media. Digital Illustrator Nithin Rao Kumblekar also shared his love for the printed calendars and emphasis on the effectiveness of it. If you are interested in print design & want to understand the future of the same. So, go ahead and order your latest issue copy!

 

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