I created this alphabet poster for my friend and muse, Dan Helton. We created this character named Yoks (short for Yokoso, I often call him, Mr.Yoks). This character is based off of Dan’s stuffed animal who is a baby horse. (Some people say pony, and some days I correct them, but other days I realize that I made the same mistake at first.)
I made these comics as doodles during my classes and made them into a webcomic last summer. I have made small books and a shirt design or two. I’m starting to make an animation featuring Mr. Yoks. I’ve been toying with the idea of an alphabet. Given my new knowledge of Photoshop (which I think is the most facile program for image manipulation) and the free time of Spring Break, here’s the Yoksabet.
I started by hand drawing everything with a fountain pen. I had Times New Roman in mind when I was drawing the letterforms. I wanted to integrate the letter with the figure. I think there was some subconscious Geoffrey Tory influence going on. (He argued that letters should reflect the ideal of the human body. However, in this set, the cross-stroke does not” cover the man’s organ of generation to signify that Modesty and Chastity are required before all else, in those who seek acquaintance with well-shaped letters.”)
I was also inspired by an Alpha poster where the theme was birds. She used the “figure no. 13” when describing the birds (to make it obvious for people who couldn’t recognize bird breeds, I think.) I liked the formality of that contrasted with my cute baby horse.
I scanned in these drawings and made them a template layer in Adobe Illustrator (that means locking the layer and knocking back the opacity) and pen tooled over the top. Mr.Yoks looks a lot friendlier when he’s clean. I added the letters as a separate layer. I copy/pasted all of these elements into a Photoshop document and through “layer via cut” I made each letter and corresponding Yoks their own layer. To integrate the drawing and the letter (there are instances where yoks is in front of the letter, behind it, or both) I changed the opacity on the letter and added a layer mask where the intersection of the drawing and the letter was. (The magnetic lasso was for quick and easy for this, but there are many ways to select the part you don’t want to show.)
Some parts I added color. There are some parts that I added color in the Illustrator phase and others where I added color in the Photoshop phase. I like adding color in the Photoshop phase because it’s just like a coloring book, it fills the part between the lines (because I pixelated my images. I like working with pixels. Very straightforward. I had some difficulties colorizing in Illustrator because I didn’t want to make everything a closed shape. Most of the elements in the yoks’ drawings are stroke, no fill.)
And then finally merging the layers to have drawing and letter inextricably together. Then I took those and rearranged them into a poster design.
As Mr. Yoks would say, “Ta daaa!”