Samuel Gray Art


Behind the scenes process of my work, recaps of my live painting shows, and stories that I find valuable

Black Apple Cold Brew - Illustration Case Study

I was asked to create an illustration of a cold brew coffee that Mama Carmen's makes. Since I started the rebrand of the company I have taken on a role of creating art that illustrates what Mama Carmen's is about and highlight what they have to offer to their customers.

Black Apple Cold Brew is a cold drip coffee infused with hops and black apples. As an eating apple, few can compare to the Arkansas Black.  Exquisite directly from the tree, or used in a variety of ways, the crisp, white/yellow flesh is superb.  With a sweet/tart flavor in a firm yet juicy texture, your Arkansas Black Apple is a treat for the senses. Combining that with hops infused into the drip brew creates a a wonderful drink.

There were three things that I wanted to encompass the illustration on. The apple tree, the hops, and the drip coffee. I wanted to show that black apple trees are pruned in a way where the inside of the tree is open where light can get in. This was a perfect opportunity to have the hops placed inside of the tree with light rays surrounding it. If you look through my work I love using a drip technique that is perfect for this type of illustration. Having the apple tree and the hops dripping into the coffee bean shows a constant flow and illustrates how the cold brew is made. 

Above is the sketch I laid out with an image of some hops and an apple tree dripping down to a coffee bean. I began doing research of what apple trees look like and wanted to have big bold lines for the leaves and apples. Whenever you have different content in a piece you need to find a way to have it work together. I left a space open in-between the branches where I wanted to place the hops and played off of the roots of the tree to allow the large drip come through the trunk. Sometimes when you see a drip of liquid break off from the main stream you have a little ball. I wanted to replace it with a coffee bean to show that it was dripping off. Take advantage of using what the viewer is familiar with.

I recorded the entire process of the illustration and you can watch below.

From the initial sketches, to photoshop and then illustrator, the entire process was recorded in the video.

HOW to prepare and EDIT A SKETCH in illustrator.

1. Draw what you want to scan/take a picture of with thick bold lines. I used a pencil to sketch out a rough idea and then traced over that with a pen so I could keep the details when I put it into photoshop.

2. Take a picture with your phone or scan in the image. It is important to take the picture from a straight angle because you don't want to have any distortion of your original sketch.

3. Open the image into photoshop and immediately go to image size and set the resolution to 300dpi. If it's at 72 dpi I would bump it up to 300 and set the pixels width to at least 3000-4000 pixels. I always try to work around this size regardless if I am just planning on placing it into Illustrator.

4. Once I have it to 300dpi I will go to Image > Adjustments > Desaturate. To be able to have a clean b/w image I want to take away any colors. However, this isn't always the case.

5. Go to contrast/brightness and click the use legacy option. I would then bump up the contrast where I can see the edges of the artwork become stronger and play around until I think the sketch is good enough to place into Illustrator.

6. Place the image into Illustrator and hit Image Trace, then Expand. If you are not happy with what the initial image when you hit the Image Trace button you can go to Image Trace Panel which is a little box left to Expand and adjust the levels. You will be able to add or subtract any detail from the image you placed.

7. Once you expand it I would then go in and use the erase tool or blob brush tool and clean up the artwork. Since it is in vector format I can delete or add anchor points to the design.

8. A tool that I use all the time is the Smooth Tool. I will select the entire object and look at where there are too many anchor points and draw along the edges with the Smooth Tool. You will have to play around with this because it will make your lines go crazy if you aren't careful. A simple undo and redo can help the process go faster. Trial and error!

9. It is helpful to group different content in the piece. If you look closely in the video I have the apples separate from the tree so I could move them around. I also have the drips and coffee bean separate. Think about working in layers but its a simplified and quick way for me to have invisible layers by just grouping different things. You get used to it with practice.

10. Have fun! I want to share more but I don't want to bore you anymore with different techniques. I hope you enjoyed these tips and if you are interested in learning more I will be sharing much more in a book that I am writing.

If you are interested in "How To Be A Better Artist" sign up for when it comes out here.

Here are the final images of the Black Apple Cold Brew!

Black Apple Cold Brew
Black Apple Cold Brew2

Interested in having a print of this or a t-shirt? Let me know! I hope you learned something from this case study and if you would like to support me then please share with your friends. Thanks for reading!

Samuel GrayComment