Alex Tait has taken a considered approach to the way in which he creates his playful, character-driven work.
Whether it is finding the right set-up in terms of tools and workspace or figuring out how many stages to take his designs through, every facet of his process helps him narrow down his distinct aesthetic.
Keeping his illustrations light with just the right amount of reworking of textures and details is important to the effect Alex likes to achieve. And finding the right balance in tone is something he keeps in mind.
The result are illustrations that always feature a blend of wit and humour that are presented with a fantastic flair of great characters and visual story telling.
He talks to us in depth about the specific tools and equipment he has found work best for his process as well as more about what he tries to encapsulate in his work.
“I work on a Wacom Cintiq connected to a MacBook Pro. I’ve been through a range of setups, most recently an iMac with a Wacom Intuos. With the MacBook I am able to use the one computer between my studio space and home office.”
“I will always create my work in Illustrator and sometimes finalise it in Photoshop, but I enjoy the limitations vector programs offer. It keeps my work looking the way it does— if I created in Photoshop, I think the temptation to add more and more would be too much, and it would change the aesthetic.”
“I do use Photoshop and sometimes Procreate on the iPad for roughs. They allow me to work out the tentative stages quickly and get onto the fun part of making.”
“When working on a new commission, I will always sketch out some rough compositions to try and see how many different ways I can get an idea working.”
“Depending on what relationship you have with the client, you might get away with sending the quick roughs over, but sometimes I will polish them and make them more ‘presentable’. Again, I do this in Photoshop. I like being able to move things on screen and adjust the composition as I go, something I can’t do quickly in a sketchbook.”
“Creating the final artwork will involve placing the rough into Illustrator with a reduced opacity and then drawing it up.”
“I use a combination of the pen tool with a mouse and the brush tool using the Cintiq. Using Adobe’s library tool, I have a selection of textures that I place, playing with the different transparency settings as I go. I haven’t set myself any ‘rules’ as far as this goes, but usually it is quite clear when I hit the point where enough is enough.”
“The end result I try to achieve with most of my work is to have something that feels simplistic, with a touch of warmth and sometimes humour. I feel the brushes and textures on top of flat colour help with this.”
All images © Alex Tait