Books! Yes, With Paper And Stuff
I wanted to use this post to introduce some the the specific resources I have found particularly helpful over the last couple months. It has proven fairly difficult to find resources for true beginners. By this I mean things like: "What is a vector?" Yes, real deal beginner stuff. Most tutorials and books assume a certain degree of knowledge that I just simply didn't have. I feel like the assumption is that if you know nothing about this, what are you doing here? Get out! I feel like the only thing I had (have) going for me was a certain level of natural, driving creativity and general design sense. I would be the first person I know to want (need) to draw and see a bird wearing gym socks, that sort of thing.
The deeper I dug into the dark Internet caverns, I realized that a lot of people were having this same issue: where do I start if I am a beginner?; beginner cannot be italicized enough here. There are countless forums where people, seemingly desperate, are pleading for someone to show them where to start. The problem seems to be the lack of structure with becoming a self-taught (insert anything here). The first day of class you would be handed a syllabus outlining what you will do every class and with your time in between these classes, dictated by someone who knows what he or she is talking about and has decided for you that this is the best topic to start with, etc. Well, I needed to figure this out, without knowing anything about anything first.
In my previous post I discussed my "curriculum" that I try to follow, as I am a creature of structure and routine. As far as actual resources, I have definitely found some favorites that are very beginner friendly. Through a series of these books, videos, and tuorials, I feel like anyone can get a basic understand of the fundamentals, and then naturally progress from there, depending on what you feel you want and need to learn.
The very first thing I decided to dive into was Lynda tutorials. Again, knowing nothing about Illustrator, I was very intimidated by this tool and felt that following along with a book would be too difficult without a basic understanding of the layout and specific tools. I cannot say enough about how helpful these videos are for a true beginner. With these intro videos I was able to find my way around Illustrator and learn about the basic tools. I was even able to make stars and circles! Woo. These videos made me much more comfortable with Ai (as much as anyone ever can be) and I felt I was ready for sexier tips and tricks. I even stopped sweating uncontrollably when I opened it!
The very second thing is that I began reading this Illustrator CS6 book, by Elaine Weinmann and Peter Lourekas. This book is perfect for know-nothings like myself (although, thanks to Lynda, I knew some things!). It is super easy to read and follow along with. I even found myself skipping some sections because Lynda doubled my brain size concerning these matters. I cannot praise this book enough and consider it a "must", again, for true beginners.
With Lynda and this Ai book I was armed with a basic understanding of how to properly goof off and tinker. First order of business: practice! Driven by my overwhelming urge to see a bird in gym socks, I did just this in Ai. Once you actually start creating, the rest of your curriculum will fall into place very nicely. For example, once I get this silly bird "on paper", so to speak, I realize that I want to know more about how to add shading, how to combine certain shapes within this creature, how to give it some depth. Depth! This is one of the first things I Googled. My "Birbsocks", as it became titled, was so fun in my head and so flat in Ai. This is where I uncovered the world of FREE tutorials. My first tutorial was created by Ben Steers concerning adding depth in Ai. This is exactly the techniqie I was looking for. Birdsocks and all my characters to follow really started to resemble exactly what was in my haunted mind. So. Exciting.
At this point I am rambling. I really get fired up about this stuff; because, yay learning and yay graphic design.