Sign & Digital Graphics

December '17

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40 • December 2017 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S DIGITAL PRINTING AND FINISHING DIGITAL GRAPHICS Low-Poly Portrait Create a vector-based cubist portrait in a few easy steps Stephen Romaniello is and artist and educator teaching digital art at Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona, for over 25 years. He is a certified instructor in Adobe Photoshop and the author of numer- ous books and articles on the creative use of digital graphics software. Steve is the founder of GlobalEye systems, a company that offers training and consulting in digital graphics software and creative imaging. B Y S T E P H E N R O M A N I E L L O The Digital Eye easy to create. In this sense low poly is used to describe artwork that is broken up into numerous geometric units. The technique captures the essence of the subject while giving it the appearance that it was constructed from solid blocks with many facets that capture and reflect light (see Figure 2). In this article I'll take you through the steps for producing a portrait, but there is no law that says you can't use it for any type of image. Although this type of artwork can be created in Photoshop or any pixel based graphics software, vector-based software like Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw is better due to the features that enable the creation of closed paths from intersect- ing lines. I will be using Illustrator CC for this article. Photographic Template Low-poly images start with a color photograph. To save time and space in this article, a more-or-less symmetrical frontal photo will be placed into the vector-based software and one half of the image will be drawn and later copied and reflected. Of course, any portrait can be used but asymmetrical images require more drawing. That being said, don't be intimidated by the potential of additional work and choose a color photo that appeals to you. Scan the photo, or download it from a digital camera and place it into the software on a separate layer. In the Layer Options dialog box, convert the layer into a template. You may want to eliminate the dimming of the image at this stage to see the colors more closely and to better determine where you will place your shapes. In the New Layer dialog box uncheck the Dim Image box (as in Figure 3). Template layers are automatically locked insuring that the photo layer will not be affected. Low Poly, High Poly To render three-dimensional objects, gaming and 3D mod- eling software divides the image surface into polygons (see Figure 1). High-poly meshes are found in movies and special effects and are designed to closely simulate reality. In contrast, low poly meshes are used in real-time applications such as 3D game designs. The term low poly is both technical and descriptive; the number of polygons in a mesh is an important factor to optimize the performance of computer games, but also, low-poly objects often appear blocky and abbreviated in detail and may be used to achieve a certain retro-style resembling classic video game artwork. Here is a technique that produces fabulous looking artwork and is Figure 1: To render 3D objects, gaming and 3D modeling software divides the image surface into polygons. Figure 2: Low-poly artwork captures the essence of the subject while giving it the appearance that it was constructed from solid blocks with many facets.

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