How a Digital Sketch on an iPad Turned into Awesome Lightbox Art

by Ben Fellowes

posted on 10-24-2018

So, while my wife’s got the remote and is watching “Downton Abbey” repeats (again) and I’m wondering if I should do something more interesting, like staring at spoons in the cutlery drawer, I pick up my iPad and Apple Pencil and start doodling.

After about 15 minutes of painting and sploshing digital paint around, I’m starting to wonder if this would make a great art piece. I’m also thinking how fortunate I am to work for a company that supplies printing and customization devices so that I might turn my humble iPad sketch into a fully-fledged piece of art.

I do like the iPad and Pencil, Sam I am

Whether you’re on a boat, with a goat, on a plane, on a train, etc., it’s now possible to feed the creative itch that can hit you at any moment. As somewhat of an art and design purist, I have been slow to realize this potential. However, over the last few years, my iPad has slowly replaced my traditional sketchbook and pen. The major appeal of digital sketching is the ability to erase mistakes and experiment on the page. The downside is not having a physical, tangible result of a design idea. However, there are distinct ways that you can turn that digital file into a physical art and design piece.

Digital doodling and canoodling

I’m pretty agnostic when it comes to iPad sketch programs. If I want super crisp graphic design pieces, I tend to use Adobe Illustrator Draw. If I’m sitting in front of the TV and sketching, I gravitate toward Autodesk SketchBook. I created this design in a few hours by playing around with different brush strokes and building black ink layers and then color layers. I finished the design off with a portrait layer that I built using the pencil and fountain pen tools — relying heavily on the smudge pen tool to smooth everything out.

Making it all nice and neat in Photoshop

After saving the sketch out as a PSD, I resized the image in Photoshop for large format printing and sharpened up some of the pixel data. I then had the brainwave that it might look rather splendid if I were to turn the image into lightbox art with a dark background and a pop of light for the face.

With this in mind, I prepped the file for lightbox printing by adding a dark gradated background and creating an additional white spot channel to include a white ink print pass in print production.

Let there be light (and art)

Ripped and printed using VersaWorks software and a Roland VersaUV printer, the finished art piece was printed onto 8-mil translucent polyester film before being mounted into a lightbox frame.

Proofing the print design — prior to it being cut and mounted to the lightbox.

To add visual power and color brilliance, we ran multiple white ink passes behind the full-color, CMYK ink pass — leaving a translucent area for the face shape. The result was a print in which light illuminated the face and gave the design many different layers of color and contrast.

The finished 27”x 30” lightbox would look at home in any gallery, studio, restaurant, hotel or other business.

It looked phenomenal as a backlit design, with a pop of light shining through the face to add a brilliant new design dimension of light and color.

As artists and designers, it’s important to use every creative opportunity to make art and design and to give our ideas life. It’s also good to know that, with modern technology, creativity is available at your fingertips to enable us to turn a digital iPad sketch into high-end art products.

To find out more about VersaUV printers and other Roland products, click here.

Topics: News, Adobe MAX

Products: Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, Creative Cloud