Reworking A Google Image For A Large Print
by
Doug Allan

To re-cap... A repeat client of mine wanted to have me do an expensive graphics application on a brand new Peterbilt truck they had ordered. They showed me a simple mock-up of what they had in mind & wanted me to take it from there. Here is what the client gave me to show me her idea:



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I went on-line to search out images for inspiration & after looking at dozens of images that weren't big enough, detailed enough, or similar enough... I finally found a really similar dragon in my Google image search results. After I went to the original site I also found a fairly large line art image for the same drawing. While my original intention was to just find a source of inspiration, I was so pleased with the style & the fact that it was line art, I wrote Melissa & told her what I was working on. I asked if she would consider selling me one-time usage rights for recreating a dragon from her work. She told me to just use it freely for no charge. Here is the drawing I found:



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As a first step, I did a quick vectorization in streamline. Then I superimposed that onto photos of the truck. I had to stretch, rotate & shear the artwork to fill the space, I was prepared to do some surgical modifications to the design... but I was able to distort it enough to fit without it looking weird, so that made it easier. Here is what I decided on for the layout:



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Then I put a pen & paper in my plotter & after enlarging the file to about 30", I ran the penplot. The reason I made it larger was because I intended to trace every line in the drawing, making some improvements as I went to correct the irregularities from Streamline. Then I rolled out some tracing paper (you can buy 12" rolls from a drafting supply store) & redrew the entire drawing. Here is a close-up where you can see how I made improvements to the scale shapes & alignment as I went: (edited to add that I mean "improvements" over the poor vectorization results... NOT an improvement of the original artists work)



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Here is the whole tracing:



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I trimmed the tracing paper down to 11" & fit it into my scanner. It took 4 scans to get the whole design, & then some photoshop work to join them. From there, I ran it through streamline again, but this time, I spent more time tweaking the settings, plus it was a much cleaner image & it was much larger. I ended up with a good vector file to work with.



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As I began filling shapes with color, I would find a few contours where my pen didn't close the shape completely, so I had to fix these few areas with a little node editing. I tried a few color schemes & kept the black outlines of each shape from my scanning on some schemes, but I ended up liking black as a background color between all the scales, flames, fins, & eyes etc, so I changed the double-line vectors of my pen tracing into a single line. On all the scales, I kept the outside line since it looked better & kept the black background to a minimum.

Here is the final color scheme before adding 3D bevels to various elements:



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To add some 3D effects, I selected each color, then using the "select same fill" command, I selected all of that color, grouped it & hit copy. Then I went to the layers menu & hit paste in front. I made sure it registered perfectly, then went back & deleted it from the base layer. I repeated this step for 3 more layers, so on top of the base layer of black, I had ivory on one, red on another, gold on a third & the gradient red/yellow color of the flames on the 4th layer. I exported this as a photoshop file, & using the layer styles, I just added a little bevel/emboss effect to each layer, changing the highlight & shadow color in each to more properly relate to the main color in each layer.

Here is the whole file after adding 3D bevels :



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I'll post the last 2 images in a second page... I seemed to have reached the limit for one page.

Once the 3D version was completed, I sent an email of a photo mock-up. The client signed off on this first submission:



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and here again is a photo of the finished truck: (with an inset close-up)



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I even flipped the pic (& the cut & flipped the Peterbilt logo) for a portfolio pic)
the plotted image, as can be seen in the lower sheet on the tracing pic, was a very crude version, based on a small, and a low res. original.
While the eye can easily see Melissa's detailed scale drawing style... my scanner & vectorizing software messed it up a lot.
I was happy to redraw it all, so I would inject a little bit of my own TLC into the final outcome... then, that much larger, much clearer image scanned & vectorized rather nicely by comparison.
I'm sure there are other ways... but this is what seemed best at the time.

$1000 for design
$1500 to print, cut, laminate & install

Doug Allan of Island Sign's in Kahului, HI

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