The Brazil-based trio chat to us about brushes, illustration and how they came to work together
David, Bruno and Victor make a fearsome designer trio that’s getting a lot of attention lately
David, Bruno and Victor are three friends from Brazil who bonded over their love of design, retro art and Japanese culture. All students of design, they set up the Ilustrata studio in 2013 and have gone on to create some fantastic pieces of art: the irony of it all? They found Photoshop “disappointing” when they started learning it…
How did you guys meet?
The three of us studied at the same university [on the] design course: we all wanted to find a way to combine our passion for illustration with a job that made us enough money to support ourselves. Design was, back then, the best choice. We live in a small town in Brazil and in 2013, in the second year of our undergraduate course, we made the decision to work under the studio name Ilustrata. Since then, we’ve been involved in design and illustration.
Can you remember when you first used Photoshop?
That’s a funny story! We found out about Photoshop at the beginning of university. Back then, the most recent version of it was CS5, and we were all newbies. After talking to some friends, we realised that Photoshop was the best tool for digital illustration, so we researched which version to use. The funny thing is that we originally found it a little disappointing to use… but after just a week of using it, we were hooked!
How does is your creative process usually work?
We start with a thumbnail sketch on paper. At this stage we can see the general layout of the illustration, and with this, we build a better composition. After that, we scan it to make the digital sketch in Photoshop. Here we’ll define the details and adjust the elements of the illustration, like background and character, to make it clear enough for the final artwork. Afterward, we start on the line art using some Photoshop brushes; we select the colours, and add shadows and lighting. Finally, we go to the last stage, where we’ll finish the illustration with some adjustments such as textures and halftones.
It’s probably not surprising that you start off on paper when a lot of your work looks very traditionally illustrated
Yes. We always buy a lot of brushes, tool presets and textures to achieve this vintage look in our work, but sometimes, we make our own brushes, too. We like the fact that we can add textures, lights and shadows using it. We also like how blend modes give a totally new look to the work.
Is ‘vintage’ how you’d describe your style, then?
It’s normal for us to receive some emails asking us for illustrations with ‘Japanese old-school style’, and it’s a good way to describe most of our work. But we’re three people, with three different styles. Equally, there are characteristics in our work that the three of us have in common like halftones, distress and line art.
Can you all agree on a favourite tool in Photoshop?
Obviously the Brush!
Obviously! What tips do you have for Photoshop beginners?
First of all, it’s really important to study the fundamentals of design and art, like composition, drawing rules and colour theory. You can learn a lot when you study artists that you like and how they create art. By doing this, you can learn different ways of working, other styles to try and finally bring this knowledge to your own work. Keep yourself curious and explore the software to find new ways to enhance your art.
Has your style evolved the more you’ve learned about Photoshop?
In the beginning we were very influenced by our idols: the likes of Katsushika Hokusai, Bicicleta Sem Freio, Yuko Shimizu, and Gastón Pacheco. Of course we are still influenced by these artists, but today we have a more authentic style. We’ve evolved a lot since we started to work with illustration in 2013. We try to keep studying drawing and design all the time, so we never stop evolving.
What have been the best projects you’ve worked on?
Broccozilla was one we were really proud of, as this project introduced us to many opportunities around the world. Before this illustration we only worked with Brazilian clients, but when Broccozilla was released we had a lot more recognition. Due to Broccozilla, we could make other awesome projects like the Hoppy Art Land and that influenced us to create The Great Ramen. We post weekly on our Instagram account, so we’re always producing new pieces of art.
Cathulhu Here we created a retro comic cover for a cute monster called Cathulhu, a half-cat, half-cthulhu creature. With this we used some hard bushes to line the art, coloured it and used halftones, too.