Category: Art Tips, Art Life, Art Business

Art Tips, Art Life

How to prepare artwork for stickers printing

 

Most of the time if you want to make stickers from your art you are going to need an outline around that artwork. It’s good if your artwork has outline already and you can select it, but what if like my artworks they are just one white color. I color the paper black when I draw so there is no outline to select, because the black is remove after scanning the artwork. You can always create a layer underneath the artwork and color it by hand, but that takes a lot of work and the results are not very precise, not to my liking at all.

We need artwork like on the left, but after scanning it and removing the black we have the one on the right.

 

In this blog post I want to share the solution I found to solve this problem with the Inkscape program. Who knows, maybe someone has the same issue. So, let’s begin!

 

  1. Import your artwork into Inkscape. Make sure to reduce its size before you do so, because we will need to vectorize the artwork later.

For the stickers, since they are small scale, we actually don’t need much details in the artwork, so some loss is actually desirable.

 

2. After importing the artwork we need to vectorize it.

Read more here on how to do it and how to get the best results:

 

3. Then draw a shape around the artwork like in the picture below (don’t go over the edges or this won’t work). Move the shape to the bottom layer. Select the artwork and the shape and press Path->Difference. We do this to remove the rectangle background and leave just the transparent artwork itself.

 

4. Now select the artwork and add very thick stoke around it, like 60px or 100px (depends on the artwork, experiment there and see what you like). Since the stroke is so thick it will almost create the solid background behind the artwork and also bleed off a little bit around the artwork (that’s exactly what we need). Format the stroke like in the picture below to get the effect we desire.

 

5. Duplicate the artwork. Remove the fill for one version and the stroke for another. Export 2 versions of it – one is the black filled background and the other one is the artwork itself, just white color.

 

6. Final step is combining these 2 files that we just exported into one. You can do with any program of your liking, I am doing it with ArtRage, since that’s what I am using most of the time (I could even do it in the Inkscape itself, but for some lag issues with that program I am choosing another option).

Now the background behind the artwork is not always filled completely by Inkscape, as you can see in the previous picture, but that’s very easy to fix – just color the holes and merge 2 layers. Export the file as .png and there you go, we have a perfect file to make stickers from.

 

In conclusion, this method is way faster than making the outline by hand with a graphics tablet and way more accurate. The result looks nice to me.

 

Let me know what you think about this! I would also be very happy to hear if you have a better method to do this?

 

How to get the best results when vectorizing your pen and ink drawing

 

This post is a follow up for my previous post:

I think I did not do a good enough job to really represent Inkscape vectorization capabilities and made the results look bad. In my previous post as you can see the detail loss was major and the image distortion was quite bad too.

Previous post, before vectorization:

Previous post, after vectorization:

From the distance the print might look ok, but maybe we can do better? Now with this post I experimented with several artworks and their resolutions before importing them into Inscape to really get the best results possible.

 

So let’s begin.

 

1’st artwork – Tried 3 times with this artwork. The first attempt was 4000px 300dpi, waited for more than 15 minutes, but the software could not finish the job. Then I downsized the image again to 3000px 300dpi and waited again for like 15 minutes and nothing. Finally, when the original file was downsized to 2000px 300dpi after about 6 mins Inscape was able to vectorize it. And this is the result:

Before vectorization:

After vectorization:

Before vectorization:

After vectorization:

Conclusion – As we can see the image lost quite a bit of its details, but I would say is still quite usable and maybe would do even better when printed on a shirt, because of the less details and stronger shadows since the ink tends to bleed a bit.

 

2’nd artwork – Inkscape was able to vectorize it from the first attempt from 4000px 300 dpi source file in a little bit more than 1 minute.

Before vectorization:

After vectorization:

Before vectorization:

After vectorization:

Conclusion – The results are really quite nice, the detail loss is minimal compared to the previous artwork. We started with the twice as big image resolution so that’s because of that. The Inkscape was able to finish vectorization probably because the original artwork itself does not contain so many details.

 

3’rd artwork – First attempt success from 4000px 300dpi source file in a little bit over 3 minutes.

Before vectorization:

After vectorization:

Before vectorization:

After vectorization:

Conclusion – Results are quite good too, similar to the second artwork, the detail loss is minimal.

 

In summary, the results will depend on the amount of details that the original artwork has and how powerful your computer is. You have to experiment with the resolution of the file that you import into Inkscape. Sometimes the results are actually quite good, sometimes not as good, but the artwork might still usable in some applications, for example, large scale flag print for a scene decoration where no one is going to see much of the details anyway. It also depends on the customer preference, he might be perfectly ok with some detail loss.

Experimentation is a key there. I would not wait for more than a 15 minutes (really a waste of time if you wait more) for the vectorization to complete, if it does not finish the job just close the software, downsize the image more and try again. Now if you wanna go paid route, Adobe Illustrator might do a better job, but Inkscape is free, so you decide.

 

P.S. The tests were done using the same default Inkscape vectorization settings for each artwork.

 

Let me know what you think about the results and maybe share what software / ways you are using to do the job?

Want to make passive income from your art? What is Print on demand?

 

Wouldn’t it be good if you could be making money even while you are sleeping or on vacation? Well, if you ask me, you can! It’s possible! There is a bunch of business models for passive income, but I want to talk specifically about the Print on Demand (POD) business.

 

Print on demand is a business model where your sell you art license for the company then to sell your art on various products and you get a royalty for the sales. You upload your artworks to these sites, format them to look good on various products, create good titles, tags and descriptions and wait for sales to happen. You don’t need to sell them yourself, the company does that for you. On most of these sites you also don’t need to do customer support as well, which is amazing for an introvert like me, who just hates it :D. And the best part of it is that you retain all the rights to your artworks and you can upload them to a lot of the POD websites or sell it to a customer later.

 

Below are some of the most well known POD sites:

CafePress

Zazzle

DesignByHumans

Redbubble

Teepublic

Teespring

Society6

Spreadshirt

 

Some of them are better that others and they all have different rules and royalties so make sure to research them first before jumping on all of them, just like I did :). You don’t want to waste your time, do you? Also, some of these sites interfaces are quite bad and outdated though, so pick carefully. Researching is also a must to know which of these sites have the biggest potential to sell your artworks. It’s best to choose a just a few POD sites in the beginning and focus on them to see how it goes, what sells and so on…

 

And just to get you a little bit inspired I will share some of my results from one of the POD sites that I am using. I will not say which one it is, go figure yourself though :), maybe a little ambiguity will motivate you to take action.

 

 

Of course, it’s not much, but think about that way – you can upload to every POD site that you can think of and you can sell the same designs on all these places, so the income can add up that way. Also sale can happen at any time, even long time after you stopped working on new designs and uploading. POD is like a tree when you plant it one time, give it some maintenance from time to time and it will give you constant fruits in the future. Now imagine planting 10 trees!

 

P.S. Around ~20% of the designs that are upload actually sell, that’s Pareto law right there :). At least for me, for some may be a bit less, for some a bit more. So research and think about what you are uploading to save time and get faster results.

 

Let me know what you think and if you would like to see more of the similar content or maybe you have ideas for posts suggestions?

 

Pareto’s law or 80/20 rule

 

Pareto’s law states that 20% of the effort gives 80% of the results. It was created by management consultant Joseph M. Juran in the context of quality control, and improvement, naming it after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who noted the 80/20 connection while at the University of Lausanne in 1896.

 

In my case this is where I noticed that this law exists. Only around ~20% of my design sell on print on demand websites. Also, only about ~20% of these selling designs make all the money for me.

 

 

Another example from my experience. Only about ~20% of my customers earns me ~80% of my whole income from art commissions.

 

 

This Pareto’s law can really be adapted in many aspects of our lives. Let’s imagine a computer hard drive. Most likely only a small percentage of files, probably around ~20% takes up around ~80% of total disk space. Another example would be – only a small percent of people own all the wealth in the world compared to the general population. The percentage 80%/20% doesn’t have to be exact, it can be 70%/30% or 65%/35% or 95%/5%, you get the point.

 

We can draw conclusions from this phenomenon and improve our productivity by focusing mostly on the things in life that give us the most benefit for the time invested. For example, instead of making 20 commissions for $50 per month, totaling $1000, finding 5 clients who pay $200 and also getting $1000. By going only for 5 quality customers, we not only are able to create better work for them, give better customer service, since we are less overworked, but we also get paid the same by doing less work.

 

Let me know what you think and add some of your life experiences with this law.

 

 

My stages from the Idea to the Finished drawing

 

1. Idea – The first stage is to think of the idea about what to draw. I usually get inspired by a film or a computer game or I see something on the internet or social media. Then I usually “marinate” that idea for a few days for it to get into its final form in my mind. After I am completely sure what I am drawing I go to the next stage.

2. Composition and design sketching – Making several thumbnail sketches of the composition and format of the drawing. Also exploring design choices of the characters or elements to see which ones I like the best. At this stage I look at the reference photos, research topics or drawing techniques, if needed. After I choose one thumbnail which works best for me, I go to the next stage.

3. Pencil under-drawing – Now I take a full size A4 paper and start to draw a rough pencil under-drawing for my final artwork. I don’t make a perfect pencil drawing here, it is quite loose and I don’t bother too much with the details or shading usually. That would not make sense to me, it would basically mean making 2 drawings (pencil and ink) when in reality I need to make just one – in ink, so no too much time wasting on pencil stage. After the rough pencil under-drawing is done, I go to the next stage.

4. Inking the drawing – After the pencil under-drawing is done, it’s time to draw on top with ink. I use Sakura Micron pens, Sakura Pen brushes, Indian Black Ink and white Gelly Roll pens to get the desired effect. This stage takes the most of the time usually. The drawing can’t be changed pretty much at all at this point.

5. Scanning and finishing up with computer – after the drawing is done on the paper I scan it and clean up the drawing with the computer software (ArtRage, Photoshop) and graphics tablet and add the finishing touches, if needed, like text, textures, maybe some color sometimes.

Wendigo myth drawing.

3 of the business books that I like

 

In this blog post I would like to share some of the business books that I really like. You ask why would I need to read business books if I am an artist? If you are just an art hobbyist and make art just for fun, to chill and relax I agree that you probably don’t need to read these books (even though they would not hurt you and you would probably learn a thing or two ;)). But if you are seeking to become a professional artist and seeking to make any serious income from your art you must understand that you are a BUSINESS and you must act like one. That means knowing how to write a business plan, how you will market / sell your stuff, what’s your target audience, how to issue invoices and do taxes, how to find partners or hire people and so on… you get the point. This is where these books come in, they help us learn about business in general and then combine this knowledge with our artistic skills for a winning formula!

 

So let’s get to the books:

 

  1. “Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence-and How You Can, Too” by Gary Vaynerchuk – I love all the content of Gary Vee and this book basically gives the insight on how this guy thinks. It also teaches social media marketing, a lot of social media marketing. Also a bit of a motivational word at the start, just like the Gary Vee is himself. If you would watch some of his YouTube videos you could see. He also talks about the importance of the content and providing people value and only then after some time asking for a sale. Now I suggest you to go and read it since I am not writing a book summary here, just giving inspiration :). If you are not into reading very much go watch some of his YouTube videos or listen to his podcast on Spotify while riding a bike (that’s just what I do :), you can do that while on the buss or driving a car) and you will get the same content and more just in a different format. And believe me, it’s worth it!

 

2. “Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money – That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!” by Robert T. Kiyosaki – in this book Robert basically tells his story and using that method he teaches us about the fundamental money principles by giving “rich dad” and “poor dad” thinking examples. The “rich dad” was his friend’s dad and the “poor dad” was his real dad. Both of them taught Robert, but very differently. The book is very easy to read and quite entertaining even though it’s about money and business. The book tells that the school systems just teach you to be a poor life long employee just like his real very educated dad who works in a job and struggles with money. Talks about working for money (being an employee) and making money work for you (being a business owner). According to this book knowledge is the most important asset that you can have, because with the knowledge, even if you would lose all your money you could build everything back up. So if you want to know something about money grab this book!

 

3. “The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results” by Gary Keller – this book explains how and why to focus just on ONE THING in order to succeed. Great tips to learn how to really focus on work instead of wasting half of our workday as we usually do when we sit down to “work”. The book is very practical with real life methods on how to work on that ONE THING, how to make and manage time and work productively. This excerpt from the book basically explains the main idea of the book – “Chase 2 rabbits at the same time and you will catch none” (Russian proverb).

“Chase 2 rabbits at the same time and you will catch none” – Russian proverb

3 super badass dark artists that inspire me

 

1. The Art of Mark Riddick – Mark Riddick.

Reputable illustrator for the underground death metal music scene, launched his freelance career as a teenager in 1991. Riddick’s artwork has been published by hundreds of metal bands and other brands alike. Mark Riddick also published several books showcasing his and some other contributing artists artworks.

One of the first artists that I’ve discovered when I became interested in dark pen and ink illustrations that I’ve been following for many years. Mark inspired me to experiment with the various drawing ideas and pen and ink rendering techniques. Not gonna lie that I probably tried to copy his style in some of my early artworks :). Also, he showed that art can be just black and white and still be relevant and appreciated by people even to this day.

The thing that Mark has several art books is totally amazing and makes me want to create a book of my own art one day. Will see how that goes :).

Follow him on IG.

Mark Riddick himself

 

 

2. Defame Art – Samuel Ian Mills.

Samuel Ian Mills was born in Saint Louis, Missouri. Started drawing drawing demons and mutants as early as 10 years old. Defame started his career in the fine art realm, winning competitions, showing in galleries and participating in group shows and exhibitions. In 2012 Defame embarked on his journey in design and illustration. He started his business while studying at The Art Institute of Saint Louis. Now residing in Los Angeles with his wife and dog, Defame continues illustrating and designing for bands and brands.

Also one of the first artists that I discovered during the start of my inking journey in 2013. Super badass artworks and skulls. Always a pleasure to look at and get inspired. Love how he occasionally mixes some unusual colors into his brutal black and white artworks.

Follow him on IG.

Samuel Ian Mills himself

Constricted by Defame Art

KILLUMINATION Skull by Dafame Art

Pirate Skull by Defame Art

 

 

3. Blial Cabal – Steven & Maranda.

Blial Cabal is a collaborative art project between Husband and Wife. Steven & Maranda – The Artist & The Printmaker. Equally intrigued by all things Metal & Macabre, they take their inspiration from the Dark Arts and Occult.

Their art gives me such a brutal and gruesome feeling in a very good way that makes me not able to stop looking at every piece that they make. It also feels very mature to me. Love the highly detailed hatching style as well. Tons of inspiration from these guys.

Follow them on IG.

Steven & Maranda themselves

Bruja II by Blial Cabal

Celebrating the Earth’s Dancing Corpse by Blial Cabal

Obliviosus by Blial Cabal

Prodigious Devourer by Blial Cabal

Puketrid by Blial Cabal

 

 

All of these guys, even though they are very well known and established artists, are very humble and always help if you need an advice! They actually respond to your IG messages :). That makes me respect them even more!

 

I hope these artists can inspire you too, to create more amazing art. Please give them a follow on social media and check out their websites.

 

The Art of Mark Riddick – Mark Riddick website. 

Mark Riddick IG.

 

Defame Art – Samuel Ian Mills.

Defame Art IG.

 

Blial Cabal – Steven & Maranda.

Blial Cabal IG.

 

Let me know which artists are your inspiration in the comments down below!

Some history about how I started making art

 

When I was a kid, like 7-8 years old I was drawing iconic anime Dragon Ball Z (DBZ) characters on the cardboard paper and then we would cut them out and play fighting games with them :). I also did some DBZ posters at that time. The poster usually were copied from the posters that I saw somewhere else. The characters were drawn entirely from the memory from watching the anime everyday :D. Back in the day we had no computer or internet so there was no way to look at the references. I remember I’ve had a few “commissions” from my friends to draw them characters and they wanted to watch while I was drawing :). They did not say anything, just watched and really praised me afterwards. So it was “hourly commissions under supervision from the customer” :D, but I did not get paid anything, I think I did not care about the money when I was a kid, it was all just fun and games.

These drawings are probably more than 15 years old:

I also was doing some gift drawings with colored pencils for my family and friends of various subjects non including DBZ.

 

I remember I was drawing most of my life and only at around 11-12 grade and early university years I stopped for a several years. I don’t remember the reasons why I stopped making art, but luckily later I started again.

 

At around 2012-2013 I started drawing again and worked on commissions through freelance websites like on Fiverr.com, Freelancer.com and 99designs.com, mostly digital art with tablet, but some traditional ones too. These commission sites gave me an opportunity to get paid for drawing. I didn’t knew that the artists could get paid drawing pictures or that I, specifically,  could get paid. It was a new idea for me and it really gave me tons of motivation and confidence. I was doing everything that I could get my hands on, let it be logo, painting, banner, character etc… It also gave lots of experience to work with real customer needs, with their projects, how to talk to customers and so on…

These are some of my older artworks:

 

In early 2017 I finally narrowed down my focus and started a Grimsoul Art project where I am now. I am happy with it. I’ve been doing it for almost 4 years now, with no longer breaks. I’ve learned a LOT and am eager to learn a lot more in the future.

Inspiration for skull artists – 25 animal skulls

 

Some inspiration for artists who, like me, like to draw skulls. In this video you can see 21 animal skulls. The crocodile one looks super badass in my opinion. The cobra’s skull looks super scary too.

 

 

Plus 4 super badass skulls, not included in this video that I’ve found on the internet and really liked.

1. Ibex skull. Pure Satan for sure :)!

Authors: Klaus Rassinger and Gerhard Cammerer, Museum Wiesbaden, picture and license here.

2. Vampire bat skull. Hella badass and scary! Look at those upper teeth.

Author: Mokele, picture and license here.

3. Gila monster lizard skull. Looks like a badass mini crocodile to me.

Author: Ryan Somma, picture and license here.

4. Python skull. Look at those teeth, once he bites, I believe there is no escape.

Author: Lizardperson, picture and license here.