Skull Board Walkthrough

Skull Board WalkthroughMany techniques and/or “accidents” as I like to call them, were used in creating the design for my “Skull Board”. It was designed as pure fun, but was then printed and applied to a skateboard for entrance in to a local art show a couple months ago.

Reactions that I got regarding the design were better than I had anticipated and it ended up being one of the favorites at the show. Here is a simple walk-through of how I went about creating this design, and how easy it really was.

Step 1

Open a new document. If you are designing this for an actual skateboard deck, you can use the same dimensions and resolution as my document and you will have room to spare once applied to a blank deck.


Step 2

Give your document a black (#000000) background. Choose a large solid brush from your basic brush preset, with a size of about 100px. Draw lines and dots on your black background at either a slight left or right angle. You will end up with something like this.


Step 3

Easy enough right? Now, navigate to Filter->Sketch->Chrome. Use whatever setting gives you the most variation in your lines. My setting had a Detail of ‘0′ and a Smoothness of ‘4′. Hit ok!


Step 4

Now navigate to Filter->Blur->Motion Blur. Most likely you will have to max it out and apply it a few times to get a good amount of blur. Depending on which way you drew your lines, your angle of motion blur will vary. Just make sure you blend with your angle, and not against it. Once you have done that use Select->Color Range… to select the white areas.


Step 5

Now you can either create a new layer and fill your selected area with black, or copy and paste and then press ‘ctrl+i’ to invert it. Color your original blurred background any color you’d like, but for display I colored mine white. Then go wild! Duplicate your blur layer, flip it, flop it, blur it some more, shrink it, do anything you would like. More complex is better in my opinion.


Step 6

With your solid background layer selected, go to Filter->Noise->Add Noise… With the settings as follows… Amount: 10.00%, Gaussian: Checked, Monochromatic: Checked. (In this case, I decided to change my background layer to a blue.) This will add more depth and character to your board, that will make a considerable difference when all is said and done.



Step 7

Create a new layer above your others and using a large Blurry Brush, color it in randomly with colors of your choosing. Set this layer’s blend mode to Color. You can create as many colored layers as you like and mess with the blend modes on each until you are happy. Just remember, you want to be able to see your angle blurs through these layers. You can even move the angle blurs on top of these layers and mess with their opacity and/or blend mode as well.


Step 8

Create a layer at any level of your file, so long as it is visible, and fill it with white (#ffffff). Now destroy it with all of your favorite brushes! Here is the outcome of this step, and the structure of my file thus far.


Step 9

Time for some skulls! Find a decent reference picture as a template for your skull design. There is an excellent set on Flickr. Create a new layer and equip your Wacom if you have one. If not, you can use paths but it takes much longer. (You can find the Wacom Bamboo on Amazon for really cheap these days. An excellent beginners tablet.)


Step 10

The best part about drawing a skull with your tablet is that you don’t have to be a perfectionist. It adds to the whole “destroyed” look. Use a medium, solid brush (60px), and turn on Pen Pressure in your Brush Preferences Pane.


Use the pressure sensitivity of your tablet to your advantage and you will never need to change the size of your brush. You will have created something like this. There is a great video and walk-through of how to draw skulls with a tablet on GoMediaZine. Here is what mine looks.


Step 11

Delete your skull picture template and create a layer beneath your drawn skull and color your skull in with a white background. Then duplicate it, rotate it, resize it, and play with opacity to achieve a result you are happy with.


Step 12

Now using the same basic techniques from the skull, draw some tentacles. The more accent lines and notches the better. Adds more character. Do the same as you did with the skulls and color them in, then rotate, re-size, and duplicate them to your liking.


Here i’ve changed their blend mode to Overlay.


Step 13

The final version of this design is not near as complex as my original. But the same techniques have been applied.


Final Thoughts

Projects like this, while time consuming are great fun. You can experiment over and over again, while mixing limitless techniques and styles, while still producing something fun and unique. If not for anything else, do it for the fun of it! After all, that is why we design things isn’t it? Although, as a freelancer I enjoy getting paid and being professional, I also enjoy not knowing the outcome. Dubbed “accidental designs”.

If you want to get your design produced, I would recommend going to your local printer and getting it printed on “adhesive polypropylene”. Then take it to a skate shop to have it applied and trimmed. Be warned, it won’t last long if you use the deck to skate.

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