Thursday, February 26, 2009

Bead Illustration

I'm often asked what programs I use to do my illustrations. So I thought I'd write a little about the process,since it's been keeping me busy for the last two days. My next 'designer of the year' Beadwork project is due! I'm not sure how deadlines just come and sneak up like that....

I've been doing my own illustration for quite some time, but last year when I agreed to illustrate my own book 'Marcia DeCoster's Beaded Opulence', I became painfully aware of how inadequate my skills were. Given it was a book and not classroom handouts (although I truly take those seriously as well), I knew I had to improve and quickly. I was fortunate to have the mentoring of Bonnie Brooks who illustrates many of the bead books available today.

I use Corel Draw to create my illustrations mainly because I already owned it and I didn't think with a book deadline looming it was time to take on new learning curve, but as it turns out learning curve was unavoidable. If I had to make a choice today I would use Adobe illustrator. I think the products are comparable, but there is more training and reference material available for illustrator.

So I've gotten reasonably adept at drawing beads and arranging them to illustrate the thread path and positioning, see...

That little dashed line showing the thread through the beads, an aha moment, thank you Rachel! You draw the line and choose dashed, then you duplicate it and choose solid, then you send the solid line to the back and the dashed line to the front. What a good day that was! Then I learned to rotate beads around 360 degrees, which is why you see the four points of the medallion evenly spaced. And I learned how to shade the facets of a crystal, thank you Bonnie.

After creating all my illustrations I save them as .wmf files (windows metafile) I am not sure of the true advantage of this step, but they seem to import and behave better then the native corel file. Then I open Microsoft Publisher, insert a picture of the project, insert all the illustrations, add text boxes and type the instruction. See simple!

For those of you who have already listened to more then you want to know....look for more fun content tomorrow. For those of you who have a need to learn bead illustration, I'm happy to share more if you contact me. I use Corel because I have it, but there are many simple drawing programs available, including the drawing tools within Microsoft Word that can be used to draw beads. They won't be as powerful, you probably can't rotate beads around a circle or blend along a path, but for simple bead illustration they do work.

Ok, off to finish up my 'New York State of Mind' and get it mailed off to Beadwork!


Bead-Mused said...

This is very cool, Marcia, although I think my own illustrations are now inadequate! lol! I'm going to need to upgrade to Corel Draw or Illustrator soon.

Gwenbeads said...

It's a beautiful illustration. I love the trick with the dotted lines. I've used it instead with gray lines, and it still works well.