I had never really had much experience with Adobe Illustrator before, and this class was a rigorous one even if you were familiar with the program. I had a lot of fun with it though. It also helped that we had Cory Kerr as our instructor. This T-Shirt design was the third of several large projects we were given to do throughout the semester, and also one of my favorites. At the end, we were to print out our shirts and wear them to class.

But before I could get to that step, I had to start from the beginning. First came the sketches:


This is actually one of many pages in my sketchbook for this assignment. This page is the one I have kept in digital copy over the past few months. One of the main issues during this stage was that I didn’t know how to draw a squirrel. That was quickly remedied by a few reference pictures and practices in the sketch book. Another issue that, although I didn’t deal with it much at this stage, I knew would become a problem in the next stage.

First Draft:


I wanted to keep the colors to a minimum, no more than four colors at the max, and I was doing my best to make it less. During this this draft, I had things down to two colors. Gradients were not an option. This is where I ran into the biggest problem of this stage – how to make it look like the squirrel was inside BB-8. I tried patterns to show where the opaqueness of the lower ball. This was a good first try, but it wasn’t quite right.

Second draft:


The first draft was a bit too detailed with the patterns, so in this rendition, I tried to make it a bit less busy. This helped to make the squirrel more visible, but the problem was the hard line where the inner white pattern ended looked odd.

Final draft:


To overcome that problem, I created a circle inside the bottom ball with a gradient. I then pixelated the gradient to create the orange dots that gradually get smaller and smaller as a gradient halftone. Next, after using the appearance panel, I was able to expand the appearance of the halftone dots, live-traced the image and removed everything that was not orange. This left me with a shape that was made up of several smaller shapes grouped together. I made sure that it was on the top layer, and placed it to line up with the solid outside layer of BB-8’s base.

I also added two more colors, taking the total number of colors to four. This really helped the squirrel stand out in the middle of all the orange dots of the gradient halftone. I also really liked the change to the acorn which also helped tie the color of the squirrel to something else in the the image.


This is a mock-up of how the image looked printed out on a shirt. I printed out the first one using the school’s printer at Think Ink in order to have my shirt for class. I also ended up having 12 people order the shirt from me and had those printed through Discount Mugs online.

This is now one of my favorite t shirts. It’s also very fun to walk around in it and have people comment on it. Their reactions are always great when I tell them I designed it.