09 Dec 2010

Serenity Sake

Illustration, Process / Tutorial, Shirts For Sale 3 Comments

Browncoats! Clothes looking a mite tired after too many hours in the saddle? Shirts showing a bit of age – not to mention blood, sweat and engine grease?

You’ll look all kinds of silly stomping into a fancy soiree wearing clothes that a Reaver chewed on, so you may want to consider spiffing things up a bit with my newest design: “Serenity Sake”.

It’s available on a Sand colored shirt on Friday, December 10th at TeeFury.com and ever afterward, printed on Silver through my own shop!


But what about you folk who have a deep down love for all things shiny, but are already well-stocked on t-shirts? Well, I’ve thought of you too, and have printed up both pint glasses AND sake cups which are sure to impart a certain touch of class to their bearer that’s certain to be noticed and regarded favorably by everyone from colonists to city dandies. May even get you an invite to the big shindig, though course I can’t say for sure.





To celebrate it’s one day at TeeFury, I’m also running a giveaway through both Facebook and Twitter, and offering up a 15% off coupon for my store. Here are all the details:

Facebook: Become a fan on my page, and leave a comment on the “Serenity Sake” post

Twitter: Follow me on Twitter, and tweet this message: Browncoats! Get your #Firefly ‘Serenity Sake’ shirt by @ianleino for just $9 today only at http://teefury.com !

And through my own site, use code “ThisLand” for 15% off your entire order, today only!





For anyone interested in the process, I really tried to emulate the classic Japanese brush style for this design, something that is completely different from anything I’ve done before, and not exactly easy to pull off. The biggest difficulty was trying to render the hard mechanical lines of a spaceship in an organic way that felt true to both the ship and the style I was emulating . I ended up painting over 30 versions of the ship before I found one that I liked.





The other issue was in finding appropriate (and correct) kanji characters for the design. Luckily, through the help of a friend on Twitter, I was able to connect with someone fluent in Japanese who helped me out. The larger characters are for “Serenity” – the name of the ship – while the smaller phrase at the top right says “Junmai Daiginjo” – a classification for a style of sake. I ended up with LOTS of attempts at these characters also before find some that I was happy with.



All of the background elements including the Alliance Flag, the pattern and type were set in Illustrator then combined with scans of the paintings in Photoshop.

Thanks for your interest in my designs, and for taking the time to look through this post! Now don’t forget to go pick up your shirts and glasses before they’re gone!


07 Dec 2010

Winter Break

Illustration, Personal Work 1 Comment

We’ve just received our first snowfall of the year here in NC, and as much as I enjoy the crisp feeling of a winter morning, the sound of a roaring fire in our fireplace and the deliciousness of hearty winter soups, it also seems like a vacation to warmer climes wouldn’t go amiss either.

So just imagine how the poor snowman in the snowglobe feels! 365 days of winter, an unlimited amount of snow AND an unending stream of brain-shaking earthquakes anytime someone is feeling bored or fidgety. I say it’s high time he got a vacation of his own, and if you think so too, then go vote for this design now at Threadless!



And don’t forget, any time one of my shirts prints at Threadless, I always give away a FREE shirt to 5 people who voted and commented on the design, so be sure to leave a comment to be entered to win!

Winter Break - Threadless T-shirts, Nude No More


30 Nov 2010

Browncoats! Mark your calendars!

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My next design, inspired by Firefly, is coming to TeeFury on Friday December 10th!

Thought a little early warning wouldn’t go amiss, so as you folk would have time to plan and execute a heist so you’ll be flush with cash on the big day.

21 Nov 2010

Who’s Who -process blog and giveaway!

Personal Work, Process / Tutorial, Shirts For Sale 1 Comment

When I showcased my Doctor Who themed “Who’s Who” design in the sideart of my previous TeeFury print, it generated tons of interest with lots of people asking for it to be printed. You asked for it, and you got it! It’s for sale today only at TeeFury for just $9 plus shipping!

As with my last design, to celebrate my print at TeeFury, I’ll be giving away shirts from my shop through both Facebook and Twitter! Here’s what you need to do to enter:

Facebook: leave a comment on the “Who’s Who” announcement post on my facebook fan page

Twitter: Follow me on Twitter, and tweet this message: ‘Who’s Who’: All 11 incarnations of Doctor Who on 1 shirt – a new @ianleino design for just $9 today only at TeeFury.com!

I’ll be picking at least one winner for each contest, and possibly more depending on the number of participants. Each winner will win their choice of any shirt currently for sale in my shop!




And once again, in celebration of this shirt being up for sale, I’m giving out a coupon code for my own shop: http://shop.ianleino.com, which carries a couple of my previous TeeFury prints as well as several other shirts and goodies. For just 24 hours, you can use the code WhosWho for 15% your full order from my shop!




I’ve heard from several people that they have really enjoyed the process blogs that I’ve posted showing how designs come together, so I wanted  to do that again for “Who’s Who” – starting from the original sketch through the final design.


The first stage for almost any of my work is to do some deep research into the project. For this design, I wanted to ensure that I got all of the details right for each Doctor including facial mannerisms and costumes, so I pulled lots of reference images.


Here’s my initial sketch, where I worked out exactly how to cram 11 people into the TARDIS, trying to ensure that they were all visible and interacting with each other. After I had the composition worked out, I added costume details for each Doctor based on my reference images.


As much as possible, I tried to use existing photos as references for the Doctors’ expressions, but for a few of them I just couldn’t find the look I needed. For those, I took reference pictures of myself and used those as a positioning guide to be able to draw their features into the expressions I needed. Once I was happy with their likenesses, I combined them with my earlier sketches in Photoshop, then printed out the new image and took it to my lightbox for inking.


Inking, inking and more inking using a new set of Sakura Pigma Sensei pens.


For the TARDIS, I created a wireframe image using Illustrator’s 3D tool (see this post for a more in-depth look) with the perspective that I needed and used it as a guide for the pen drawing.


Now that everything was drawn, I combined the two inked images in Photoshop and after much tinkering was able to get the palette down to 5 colors for printing. I separated the colors, prepped the file, sent it in to the printer, and it is now available in my shop!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this process blog, and it has given you a little insight into how I created this design.  Be sure to keep an eye out here, or on my Facebook page for more information about upcoming designs.


20 Nov 2010

Looking for one of my shirts?

Personal Work, Shirts For Sale 4 Comments

One of the problems with being a t-shirt designer is that often times your artwork ends up spread across the entire internet, with designs for sale at numerous sites, making it hard for fans to find the shirts that they are looking for. To make it easier for anyone looking for where to buy one of my designs, I’ve collected them all onto one page and you can see them all here.


Blue Plate Special by Ian Leino

Speaking of shirts being for sale – if you missed my “Blue Plate Special” design when it was at TeeFury a few weeks ago, I now have a limited number of them available through my own shop. Get yours before they’re gone!






Again, you can find the links for these all ALL of my other printed designs on my new Shirts for Sale page which I will continue to update anytime I have a new design for sale online.


I Wish I Were by Ian Leino

And in OTHER awesome news, my “I Wish I Were” design that was a finalist for the Threadless Design of the Year has been reprinted once again, and is available in mens, womens and kids sizes!

18 Nov 2010

Fun with Illustrator’s 3D tool

Illustration, Personal Work, Process / Tutorial No Comments

I’m no 3D artist, so I know that I’m not getting the most from the incredible 3D tools that Illustrator offers, but I wanted to show you one quick thing that I DO use them for in some of my t-shirt designs that has been phenomenally helpful to me: perspective on complex, round objects. I have a devil of a time hand-drawing these sorts of things, and the Illustrator 3D tool has saved me from countless hours of frustration.

Here, let me show you a couple of examples.

For my Blue Plate Special design, I drew all of the characters by hand, but used the 3D Revolve tool to help me get the correct perspective on the plate.

First draw a cross section of half of a plate (an enlarged version on the left shows it a bit better). Then, with that object selected, go to Effect > 3D > Revolve.







The Revolve tool will take your selected object, and revolve it around a central axis (you can choose to use the right or left side of the selected object as the rotational axis), creating a fully editable 3D object that you can now rotate in any direction until it is in the correct perspective for your project.







There are several different rendering modes for 3D objects (which of course have a myriad of uses) but when I’m using it purely as a 3D reference, I find it most helpful to use the “wireframe” setting, as it show the full object, including invisible surfaces.

At this point, I incorporated the wireframe plate with my character composition sketch, and used it as a basis for the pen and ink drawing.


As it turns out, by the time I was finished with the illustration, the characters ended up hiding most of the plate, but the part that IS visible is juuuust right.













Here’s another example of the usefulness of a custom 3D reference. In my “Once Upon a Carousel in the West” design, I couldn’t find a good reference photo of a carousel in the orientation that I needed it, so I created one myself following the same steps above.

Once again, I created a cross-section of my intended shape, expanded it into 3D using the Revolve tool, and set it to wireframe mode.






Then I repeated the same process for the base of the Carousel.








Once I put the two pieces together, I had an accurate 3D reference image of a carousel in exactly the position that I needed it for my illustration. I printed out this wireframe image, and used it as a positioning reference when I drew the design.









The final design shows how the carousel was incorporated into the full illustration, as well as how I added embellishments to the basic structure, all of which are in correct perspective since I was able to use the wireframe for an accurate reference.







So there’s a little introduction to one of the ways to use Illustrator’s 3D Revolve tool to ensure that you keep correct perspective on complex, round elements in your work.  As I have time, I’ll try to post more tutorials and process blogs for some of my other designs. If there’s something you’re especially interested in, leave a comment and I’ll try to answer any questions in future posts.

25 Oct 2010

Blue Plate Special

Personal Work, Process / Tutorial, Shirts For Sale 1 Comment

My latest design, “Blue Plate Special” mixes my love for hole-in-the-wall seafood restaurants (and their cheesy tourist shirts) with my deep appreciation for the wealth of aquatically-based characters in modern pop culture and is up for sale (today only!) at TeeFury for just $9!

The only thing that could be better than getting one of these shirts for $9 is getting one of my other design for FREE!  I’ll be giving away several shirts through different channels, and here are the details on how to enter to win each shirt:

Twitter: Follow me (@ianleino), and tweet this message:  Get the latest t-shirt by @ianleino featuring aquatic characters from Ackbar to Zoidberg, today only at http://www.teefury.com

Facebook: “Like” my FB artist page, and leave a comment on the “Blue Plate Special” post.

I’ll be picking at least one winner for each contest, and possibly more depending on the number of participants. Each winner will win their choice of any shirt currently for sale in my shop!




Also, in celebration of this shirt being up for sale, I’m also running a one-day-only coupon for my own shop: http://shop.ianleino.com, which carries a couple of my previous TeeFury prints as well as several other shirts and goodies. Through midnight tonight, use code: BluePlate for 15% your full order from my shop!




And finally, for those interested in how this design came together, I thought I’d give a brief walk-through of my process for this illustration.

After coming up with the initial concept, I brainstormed a list of characters to include, trying to pull from a broad selection of modern culture to find things that I personally responded to and that should also appeal to a wide audience, with just a couple of slightly less obvious characters for the true nerds.

In an amazingly rare stroke of luck, my initial thumbnail sketch worked out to be well-balanced so I used it as the basis for a more refined sketch.

After inking the sketch, I scanned it into Photoshop, cleaned up a few ink smears then started laying in my colors, starting with a white base and building from there.

After balancing out colors across the composition, I started adding detail and rebalanced some of the minor text.

After I was happy with the level of detail in each character and the overall balance of the composition, I went back and thickened lines to better define each character and added rich shadows in a couple of places to strengthen the composition.

After that, I added a little distressing to help replicate that vintage look, and that’s it!

So there it is – a quick walk-through of the process behind my “Blue Plate Special” design, that’s for sale today at TeeFury!

25 Oct 2010

2 designs at Threadless

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Once again, I have two designs in the running at Threadless that need your votes and comments!

Once Upon a Carousel in the West - Threadless T-shirts, Nude No MoreYour Mouth - Threadless T-shirts, Nude No More




For “Once Upon a Carousel in the West”, I used a classic cartoon style to show the awesome influences that small coin-operated carousels might have had in the Old West.





“Your Mouth” was a very experimental design for me, as I moved from my typically conceptual basis for shirt design into something more viscerally lead. For this one, I’ve chosen a Pop Art inspired motif using CMYK colors (plus white) to create a vibrant patterned design that I hope you enjoy.



As you look at both designs, don’t forget: whenever one of my shirts is printed at Threadless, I give away a FREE shirt to FIVE of the people who comment on the original design. If you’d like to be entered, all you have to do is vote and comment on each design – then if they are printed, you’ll automatically be in the drawing for a free shirt!

19 Oct 2010

Shirt within a shirt

Shirts For Sale 1 Comment

When I was working on my 80′s-inspired shirt design “The Great Ape Skate of ’88″, I thought it would be fun to put a classic 80′s shirt on the main Ape character. I thought for awhile before coming up with the idea of using the iconic shirt from one of my all-time favorite movies of the 80′s (or any era, if I’m being totally honest).  Before I tell you what it is, take a look at my design and see if you can recognize it.

It’s pretty well hidden, with only a small portion of the original design visible, so it will really take someone with a pretty strong knowledge of cheesy 80′s movies to be able to see it (so don’t feel bad if you don’t).









Ok, give up? It’s the classic “Fu Manchu” shirt that Jack Burton wore in “Big Trouble in Little China”. It’s always been one of my biggest guilty pleasures, and this seemed like a fun way to pay a small amount of tribute to the film.


My shirt is currently for sale through ImpactThreads.com in sizes for guys and girls. Also, I’ve discovered that you can also buy Jack’s classic Fu Manchu shirt through several retailers.  The best that I found was from The Wing Cong Exchange who have a tanktop version available with a mildly distressed graphic that’s just like the movie version.

I am now the proud owner of said tanktop, and need only a good mullet wig to complete my costume. Higher end shirts have spoiled me, and I really wish this one was printer on a more comfortable and fitted blank, but it’s still one of my new favorite shirts based on nostalgia alone.

11 Oct 2010

Werewolf? There, wolf!

Personal Work, Process / Tutorial No Comments

After working on several pop-culture inspired designs in a row, I wanted to do something a little more artistic so I decided to work on a new illustration using scratchboard (like I did for my ever-popular “Polar Beer” shirt).


Here's my initial sketch


Though I wanted to do everything by hand, I did have to resort to the computer for one small thing - correctly spacing the phases of the moon around a circle. First I drew a circle the size of the full cycle of moon phases. Then I thickened it to a stroke of 50, selected rounded ends and set the spacing to 1pt with 90pts between each dot. This gave me perfectly aligned circles, which I then expanded and stroked for outlines.


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Beginning outlines.

Using a ballpoint pen, I traced the image onto scratchboard. The pressure from the pen leaves minute indentations in the board which you can just barely see in this image. They're not that much easier to see in real life either, until I discovered that using a headlamp created a strong directional light source that really helped reveal the impressions.


First shot of some initial detail.


Building up fur detail and balancing the light and shadows.


My initial scan of the central character.


Addition of moons and clouds.


Based on the first scans I strengthened some of the highlights to better round the figure and give a sense of depth, then added in the hillside and mountain range.


Oh, and here’s a quick animated gif I put together showing the build up of the illustration from sketch to final design.

And that’s it! Hours of scratchboard work compressed into a few seconds of animated gif. Thanks for taking the time to look through the blog!










Now that you’ve seen the full process of how this design came together, why not take a moment to vote for it at Threadless?  It’s gotten a great response so far, but could still use your votes and comments so please take a moment to check it out here:


Fangs Ba(red) - Threadless T-shirts, Nude No More