Posted by on Dec 22, 2011 in DePaul University CDM, Graphic Design | 6 comments

Just before the beginning of the Fall 2011 quarter the School of Cinema and Interactive Media in DePaul’s College of Computing and Digital Media acquired the graphic design department from the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. This development has provided a slew of new courses for us. I’ve always wanted to take Adobe Illustrator and learn more about vector graphics to accompany pixel based Photoshop. It’s a freshman level course but it’s one I can imagine using in a variety of ways in my future animation projects.

Our lecturer for this course was Chris Kalis. Although one of his specialties is graphic design this wasn’t a graphic design course, just a basic “how to class”. We learned some important basics such as masking, creating our own character fonts and learning how to create abstract shapes with the line and circle tools. We got a lot of good work in with the color tools too.

Chris didn’t let us off the hook just because it was a beginner class though. We applied design and composition principles to our projects with the layouts he assigned using a variety of techniques. On our first major project he took our head shots, we turned them into silhouettes and then got creative blending it with our initials in a variety of ways. Here’s one of mine.

This is the reason I took the class. To learn how to draw in Illustrator. For this exercise we found a picture of an interesting object and traced it. After Placing (sometimes preferable to Importing an image) the picture on the art board you lower the opacity to make it more opaque but not completely transparent. Then the line tool is used to draw the contours of the object. In the end the closed spaces can be filled with color. The file below was my boat project which included a labeled diagram.

This is my final project, my re-imagining of a Donald Byrd album cover. It is a process book layout of one of his jazz album covers. The objective for the final was to pick an album cover, create a few stylized versions of it, including the logo, and then picking a color pallet to use as inspiration for something unique in the end. This exercise gave us more practice on learning about fonts and duplicating them as closely as possible. The PDF flip book will let you leaf through the pages of my final.

I learned more than expected from this class, especially creating custom fonts that I can use in any animated situation. Christ is a great instructor. This is Chris’s personal site. If you’re a student of animation or graphic design I definitely recommend that you take a course from him. And if you need a vector based alternative to the pixel based PhotoShop you should definitely fire up Illustrator and start playing around with it.


  1. 12-22-2011

    A friend of mine just emailed me one of your articles from a while back. I read that one a few more. Really enjoy your blog. Thanks

    • 12-26-2011

      Thanks Matt. What post was it?

  2. 12-26-2011

    Pleasant blog on basics of using Illustrator.

    • 12-28-2011

      Thanks Chanda. Glad you found it useful.

  3. 12-28-2011

    Hey man, nice designs! Illustrator is a challenging program to use. I’m still discovering tools in it and I’ve been using it for the past four years. It seems like you have a great foundation for it.

    • 12-28-2011

      Thanks Jimmy. Looking forward to seeing more of your work.

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