Creative Media: Beauty by Hand

Here on Open, there are a lot of original resources to browse and download—all of them created by our in-house pastors, videographers, writers, and designers. Let's take a look behind the scenes at the creation of one of our images…and it didn’t involve genius-level Photoshop skills.

One of our core values at Life.Church is "We will do anything short of sin to reach people who don't know Christ." Ryan Tauss, one of our graphic designers, decided to create a hand-drawn graphic treatment of this quote, with the idea that the art would be made into t-shirts.

We asked him to share more about his process:

Open Ideas: So you have the quote you want to use, but zero art. Where do you start?

Ryan Tauss: For me, I tend to throw everything on the page so it seems less intimidating. Scribble, scribble, scribble. I don’t judge what comes out. I just let things happen. Each stroke of the pen is different, and hopefully it begins to morph into something of interest. It’s not about what things are at this point, but what they are becoming.

Ideas: Ok, so you now have a group of sketches, some good, some bad. How do you refine them?

RT: I pick out things I like and don’t like. I will eventually scan my pages and compile and mix-and-match things to my liking. It’s at this stage that things begin to take shape.

Ideas: So you settle on a rough design, and then you used Photoshop to enhance it, right?

RT: No actually, I really became enthralled with the process of not using the computer to create something. But how does one achieve that cool nitty-gritty look without using Photoshop textures? I turned to my friendly local copy machine, and I copied it over and over. My scans came out pretty clean, but I wanted a more rustic feel. I scanned the heck out of the design and messed with the exposure each time. Once I felt I had a good variety of texture, I scanned the results into my computer and live-traced it into Illustrator.

Ideas: Very cool. So in this picture, there's a circle around the 'Anything' image…but that circle doesn't appear in the final graphic. What happened?

RT: Well, I decided simpler was better here. So I just simplified the design and boiled it down to just the phrase. And this is the result.

What we've learned:

There's a saying here at Life.Church: "Latest doesn't mean greatest." In other words, the newest gadgets and tools aren't always going to help you get the result you want. Here, the designer intentionally stayed away from Photoshop because he wanted to achieve a look that felt a little more analog in a digital world. The more real something feels, the more impact its message will have. You don't need a lot of expensive equipment to create something really beautiful; just keep editing and refining until you achieve the results you're looking for.

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