Like many illustrators, I primarily do my work in Photoshop. It’s not made for illustration but until something better comes along, I’ll stick with it. Since it can be clunky, I thought I’d share some of my favourites tools and plugins that ease the workflow.
In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ve probably heard of these legendary brushes by illustrator Kyle Webster. Mimicking real-life media, Kyle’s tools enable digital artists to play around with a variety of techniques that are often difficult/expensive to achieve in the real world. If you’re new to his brushes, get started on his Megapack which contains a bit of everything, to see what you like.
So you’ve gone ahead and bought every single pack from Kyle but now you have an enormous list of brushes and it’s super hard to find your favourites (I’m looking at you, pastels!). Brushbox is a neat plugin that allows you to order your brushes, select your favourites and also override some of the presets (size, foreground colour) if you find yourself changing them often, without overwriting Kyle’s great work. It also provides a brush preview list option which is great for when you’re inevitably going scan through all your brushes. You can also set up your own folders so you can group them however you see fit.
If you find yourself using guides a lot, this one’s a must. Quickly setup your guides using the mini menu, tweaking the margins, adding guides to the edges of your document quickly, the number columns and rows, as well as the gutter between them. You can also save them to use on other documents as presets (I’m a big fan of having a 3mm bleed guide and 3x3 grid). And once you're done, you can even remove them all at once using the 🚫.
Sometimes perspective’s a bitch, and I’m certainly not that great at it. This tool will assist in setting up your initial perspective grid. Either go straight into it or even use a reference image, put your two paths down for your perspective and then apply. Congratulations – you’ve made your first axis. You can do this for the other two axis and even change the colours of them if you want.
How many times does it take you to draw the perfect circle? If, like me, you can spend an entire afternoon trying to achieve such greatness, you may want to look into Hej Stylus. It’s a great tool that adds a dragging radius (which you can alter) to get those perfect curves. You even mess around with pressure smoothing, position smoothing, tilt smoothing, rotating smoothing and any other smoothing you can think of. The best bit is that this works across your entire Mac and not just Photoshop, so you could even use this in Illustrator if you’re a vector artist.
If I need to come up with a fresh colour palette, this is my go to app. You can simply head to the website app and generate a random palette, lock the colours you like and see what you can come up. It has nice features like adjusting the colour value by hand, using an image as your base and also testing your palette on the various types of colour blindness to see if it still holds out. It’s a free web app but the paid plugin is a much appreciated addition which makes for a smoother process when taking your palettes into Photoshop.