Republic / Icons and Illustrations / How the illustrations on this site were made
The illustrations around the site are drawn by Niklas Rhöse, a designer and co-founder of Republic. Here he tells a little more in-depth about how it is possible to draw digitally, as well as the thoughts behind the design.
Digital drawings with an:Analog feeling
When we started work on the new republic.se, we agreed that we wanted to create a stylish, classic, layout that was very much based on typography and self-drawn illustrations.
Since much of the other graphics around the site come from different customer projects, we needed to find a way that was clearly different from this and which at the same time felt like “us”.
So we decided to move away from polished and colorful vector illustrations, and instead create drawings that felt analogous and did not compete with other graphics.
EquipmentAll images are drawn on an Ipad Pro (12.9 ") with an Apple Pencil. It is a pressure-sensitive pen, and it provides control and feels very close to traditional, analog drawing. The strokes get darker with more pressure, and you can tilt the pen to create a light shade, just like a regular pen or brush.
When I started painting digitally, it was almost only Wacom that produced pressure-sensitive drawing plates and pens, and in addition, if you wanted to be able to draw directly on the screen, the stuff would cost a couple of monthly salaries.
Today, there is really good equipment in several different price ranges that suit both creative beginners and experienced artists who want to put the color tubes on the shelf. One tip is the YouTuber Brad Colbow, who researches and grades these types of products in a pretty fun and easy way.
But do not skimp on the pressure sensitivity itself, because it is the most important component. There are variants where you draw directly with your finger on the screen or "stupid" pens (often called stylus) which are really just a piece of rubber. It works for browsing around and clicking links and buttons, but not for drawing.
Apps and softwareAs I said, I use an Ipad Pro to create images and drawings, both for customer projects and as a private hobby. There are a plethora of drawing apps, but the consensus among both professional illustrators and happy amateurs is that Procreate (from Savage Interactive) is in a league above its competitors. It's easy to get started, but if you need to, there are advanced features like creating your own brushes, layer masks, and animation.
Other great apps are Autodesk Sketchbook, Tayasui Sketches, and Photoshop for Ipad
An illustration from start to finish
Here is a timelapse of the drawing that illustrates “Accessibility” here on the site. I thought back and forth on how to illustrate it, and wanted to find a way to make a serious subject a little more fun but respectful.
As you can see in the movie, I started by sketching a simple “stick man” to find the right pose and expression. In this situation, it is more important to find the right gesture and movement, than that the proportions and anatomy will be completely correct.
Since the figure would be covered with clothes, I didn’t have to worry too much about the details once the basic shapes were in place, but could continue to “dress up” the shapes. I looked up some reference pictures of pirates to get a better idea ofwhat kind of clothes were used.
When the lines were in place, I started applying shadows and grayscale. This makes the image easier to read because it makes it clearer how the objects are connected. Shadows and highlights helps create an illusion of 3D.
– Niklas Rhöse
It's not easier to paint digitally, but it's a bit more convenient
Tips & tricks:Pencils och screen protectors
Procreate has lots of good brushes "out of the box", and there are additional quantities to download for free or buy, or you can create your own directly in the app.
For the pictures here, I wanted an analog feeling, and used only two different brushes; a "pencil" for drawing lines and light shadows, and a "drawing charcoal" for inserting darker areas and larger areas. They are called 6B Pencil and Charcoal Block in the app (see screenshots from Procreate below)
Many people find that the glass of the iPad is a bit slippery and difficult to draw on, and many other manufacturers of drawing boards have a slightly matte or roughened surface to mimic the feel of paper. It’s a matter of taste, but I think you get better control with a little more resistance to the surface. I use a very plain matte place protection, and it works great. There are more expensive variants specifically designed to draw on, but I honestly feel no difference. The quality of the screen gets a little worse with an extra layer, but I think it’s worth the compromise.