I’ve recently been sitting in on some interviews seeking an intern for Post+Beam, and it’s been fun to see a lot of student projects. In particular, the Adobe Illustrator projects many of the students were assigned reminded me of two of the projects I did back in art school long ago.
Typically, when an instructor is trying to help learn Adobe Illustrator they’ll get you to do a couple of things. They want you to get used to using the pen tool, gradient mesh, and to understand and embrace the power of vector graphics over raster graphics. They’ll probably get you to trace a photo or otherwise try and reproduce an image as closely as possible to help master the tools.
For those looking for Adobe Illustrator project ideas & sample student work, here’s a throwback to my old illustration assignments. In my class we had to redraw an object in Illustrator as close as possible and then to create a self portrait. Below, you can see I recreated a Nintendo DS and did a mocking self portrait ala “happy birthday Mr President.” I was being cheeky with my portrait, trying to have fun with things because I didn’t feel I needed to be in the class at the time and was trying hard to audit it. Don’t be like me though, I was a wank back then. Stay in school! And keep learning! And no, these were not made with any fancy “live trace” functionality. I hate the effect that has on photographs, though it is good for bringing in the odd ink drawing. Getting down into the nitty gritty and drawing or working through the images yourself is the best way to learn and improve both your Illustrator skills and your art skills.
If you’re looking to do some Illustrator practice, I’ve found a few tutorials that touch on the skills required to do these types of projects:
- Add depth to your art with expert shading techniques
- How to control gradient mesh in Illustrator
- Tracing a vector face from a reference photo
- Create a burning vector match using gradient meshes
- How to turn a photo into vector artwork