It’s me. Sean. I’m here again for the most wonderful of reasons. Astute has released a new plug-in and I get completely excited to talk about it. What plug-in has gotten me so hyped up? Stipplism! That’s what.

This is a style of illustration I haven’t touched since Illustration I in college. Because it’s mind-numbing. There are pros out there that have the wrists and the grit to make amazing work with a pen tip. Sadly, I am not one of them. However, Stipplism may just be my ticket.

For this post, I want to show you the basic method I used to create my “self portrait.” I’m a handsome animal, as anyone can clearly see.

Using MirrorMe, another clever tool from Astute, I build out my bear. I want to do a white on black illustration, so once I’m done, I create a new black background layer and lock it down.

This is where the fun begins. It’s a really, really simple technique and much like real stippling, it just takes patience.

Select your shape. Fill it with a White-to-Transparent gradient (or Black as needed), then feather the selection a tiny bit. This softening will help the shapes hold together just a bit more organically.

I’m done with the base shapes of the head. I’ve added a couple of shadows or asymmetrical shapes here and there but overall, I’m very happy. His actual head and the shadows in his ears are black gradients as well. This is really the part you want to spend the most time on, because Stipplism will do all the heavy lifting after this initial build.

Now the magic kicks in. This is my basic setting for almost the entire illustration. I truly didn’t change it much at all. I like the tiny dots and the subtle changes. Experiment however you like, but keep in mind that the higher the quality and density, the longer your render times. I chose a 75% density because I knew I’d be overlapping shapes and I wanted them to blend, rather than create solid white.

I’d say this bear is looking pretty solid. Again … all of my stippling is the result of that first build, where I laid down my values. At any point you can simply tweak the value or move the gradient annotation and the Stipple effect will update automatically.

Everything’s better with texture, and stippled bears are no exception. Using Phantasm, I take a paper texture, embed it, and get to work. First I desaturate it it, then I adjust the levels for a more extreme contrast. Finally, I invert the illustration and change the blending mode to screen.

Looks pretty nice! I give that 4.5 out of 5 hot pokers on the hand-drawn torture scale. But since we did this in Adobe Illustrator, it was far more luxuriant and painless.

There you have it. It’s a super simple technique, but with patience and practice, it can be super effective. I really recommend downloading Stipplism and giving it a test-drive for the full 14 days for FREE. As always, feel free to holla at me on Twitter @inkstatic or drop by my website, and say ‘hey!’

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