Google have a rather lengthy and comprehensive handbook on how to prepare art for them. While they didn’t specifically ask for this to be followed to the letter, I thought it prudent to follow as closely as possible to minimise chances of art being rejected or stuck in revision loops.
From this handbook, I made an illustrator swatch set.
I find building a swatch on the actual canvas is a lot quicker to use than the swatches window in Illustrator. Anywhere you can save time wrestling with Illustrator software is a bonus, and lets you focus more on the task at hand.
All sketches were made digitally in Photoshop, using an off white background. Brush is round 8px with transfer pressure on the Wacom pen. This helps get that “chunky” geometric feeling, even though the final illustrations won’t be outlined. My hand is constantly on the shift key here, while drawing hold down shift to lock the brush into straight lines.
At this point in the project I am able to get quick feedback on elements to add, remove and so on. I can also try out various juxtapositions and see how overlay elements interact.
I had pretty much free reign over what the sketches should be, so long as they resembled the product and Google Japan’s existing photo backgrounds these panels were commissioned to replace.
As apparent below, a lot of the above sketches changed, elements were mostly removed, so that we could keep the left side of the panel clean for text. Also, I wanted the story for each panel to be more clear, this reductive process help to weed out anything that is not entirely needed to tell the story.
Once the sketches have been approved, it’s time to “ink” them in. In Illustrator I place all the sketches in a layer and set the layer to dim the images. Then using primitive shapes, the pen, and lots of pathfinder booleans, I begin to block out the shapes.
Keeping a selection of geometric objects on the canvas can help speed up outlining, but in this case I wanted to keep as close to the sketches as I could, so that meant making objects on the fly. It’s good to have shortcuts ready for this, like mirror, rotate 45 degrees and outline path. I used these a lot.
Theres a few tricks at play here to block out the shapes quickly, for example, whats the fastest way to make a triangle?
A small selection of the panels in situ from the website.