As most kids born in the 90s I was very influenced by skateboarding and was a "skater" myself. I always loved skateboard art and I remember going with my friends to skate shops to see the shapes from brands like Santa Cruz, Flip, Powell Peralta and others. I must admit that this art had a huge influence on my work and here's just a little tutorial in tribute to that.

If you're not really into skateboard art, I would suggest you to take a look at Jim Phillips artworks, he's like the father of skateboard art. Besides Jim, you should also check guy like Billy Argel, Gunsho, Pablo Etchepare and Diego Medina, whose work is intricately linked with the skateboard culture.


Ok, enough talking, so what are we going to do today? Quite simple: A "Cool" in melting green-ish letters, old school style.


Warm ups

Let's begin with some warm ups, as you may already know, pointilism can be really tiresome and messy, so let's make some simple exercises. Make a circle, a triangle and a square, start filling it with dots doing the following movements: circular for the ellipse, triangular for the triangle and side to side for square. That way you will be warming up your wrist and also testing your dot control, try it at least two to three times If you never tried this technique before. Do it slowly and don't put too much pressure or you may get your wrist injured because of the repetition. This technique will be used on the following in order to give some depth on the letters.



You probably already know hard gradients are, nowadays they are mostly used on vector art and t-shirt art, as some printing methods require few colors. If you've never used before, try this simple exercise: make a three color gradation, like the blue one I did, then try drawing some forms with the darker color, make a reflex with the medium color and a little reflex with the brighter. As you can see, from a certain distance your eye will assimilate a gradient. Try as many forms as you want, then make patterns to see the effect they have on the illustrations. This technique will help later on giving depth to the letters.


Line work

I wanted a traditional melting effect, with drops and everything on the type formation. I haven't done sketch with graphite, but I would suggest you to try it before using a technical drawing pen. A good way to make sure the type will be legible is to draw it first with graphite as a bubble form and then make the drops inside of it. Notice that you should vary the size of the drops or it will look flat and boring...just saying.



Stroke

Varying the size of the stroke is a very important technique in skateboard art. Perhaps this is a characteristic inherited from comic books and from the early works that were mostly done using brush not pencils so the variance was quite normal thing. Anyway, after I did the line work, I started tracing the paths inside each bubble to make a heavier stroke on the middle and thinner on the extremities.



Stroke Fill

Yep, here's the tiresome part: after tracing the stroke you should fill it with black ink.



Dot shading

Ok, I hope you remember the previous exercises because we're going to apply it here. In order to make the dot shading correctly, first make circles around the bubbles and fill them using a circular movement, just as we practiced before.


This will take some good amount of time, but the result is quite neat.


Final Result

Now I have all the three letters to write "Cool". When it comes to digitizing images, most people rather use scanners, but as in this case it was only a BW artwork, I though it would be quicker and easier to just photograph them using a professional camera. But, anyway please fell free to use the method you want to.



Cleaning

Having the images on the computer the first thing I've done was to open them on photoshop and adjust their levels in order to clean the white and get a heavier black. Then, just simply cut the letter using the lasso tool (L), the pen tool (P) or using masks, the method you feel more secure.


Make a new layer with only the type selection (ctrl + J / command + J), then make a white background on layer bellow.




Adding hard gradients

It's time to apply the hard gradients, first I filled the whole letter with dark green.


As a rule, the flat parts without and with less dots were filled with bright green, notice that it gave a border effect on the bubbles.


And also filled inside of them a bit, as you can see they start to pop and give depth.


Following my previous instructions on hard gradient, I added white inside of the bright green on each bubble.


I must say doing this is less tiresome than the dot filling and the final result with a black background got really slick.



Mockup

As it was about skateboard art we cannot forget to make a mockup of the final illustration, so I found this really cool mockup at Freebie Pixels. You can download the PSD and replace it with the final result. Hope you guys learned something from this and had fun, see ya.



About the author of this post

I'm Marcos Torres, I'm a Graphic Artist from Brasil. You can know more about me at my Website, at my Tumblr or at my Flickr.