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Working with Client Changes While Illustrating a Hippie Bus

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Read Time: 5 min

Changes, changes, changes! As any designer/illustrator can attest to, changes from a client can be a huge headache and can cause major issues in the progress of the project. In this tutorial I will show you how I approach reworking an illustration after the client has change requests, without having to start over and re-draw every step of the illustration.

For the sake of fun and simplicity, I will be supplying a simple drawing of a hippie bus as a starting point. Simple enough, till the client comes back with CHANGES!

Final Image Preview

Below is the final image we will be working towards. Want access to the full Vector Source files and downloadable copies of every tutorial, including this one? Join Vector Plus for just 9$ a month.

Tutorial Details

  • Program: Adobe Illustrator CS3
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Estimated Completion Time: 30 minutes


The client wants to incorporate a paint job on the van so that it says "Awesome." After showing them a initial sketch proof image, they come back with totally different feedback. Now they want the bus to have "Be Free" on the side and they want a bird and a bird cage on the roof.

Instead of re-drawing the image with the new lettering, scanning, cropping, cleaning it up in Photoshop and then finally creating a new proof image for the client to view, I will simply just sketch-in the requested changes in illustrator. This allows you to show the client the requested changes quickly, without having the clutter and headache of creating new drawings. Since there are often numerous rounds of changes, I can quickly and efficiently create a visual for them by simply doing it in Illustrator.

Step 1

We'll start with an existing illustration that has been drawn, scanned, cleaned up in Ps, vectorized, colored and shown to the client. The colors are grouped and you think you're close to finishing up the project. But hold it right there...

Step 2

The client comes back with changes! Dang! You were so close, you even stared prepping the file for print. They want lettering on the bus that reads "Awesome." Using the Pen Tool in AI sketch in the lettering.

Step 3a

You'll need to create a clipping mask around the lettering, so it's clear for the client. To do this you will need the outside shape of the van. A quick trick that I use to select this outside shape from a complicated drawing like this is to use the Direct Selection Tool (A); chose one point from the outside of the blue outline. Then copy and paste the point.

Step 3b

Next, hit undo (Command + Z) and the entire outside of the shape will be selected. Simple copy (Command + C), deselect everything (Shift + Command + A) and paste in front (Command + F). Viola, you have the nice blue outside shape.

Step 3c

Next select the outside blue shape and the "Awesome" lettering, Control-click and select Make Clipping Mask.

Step 3d

Double-click to enter the clipping mask, and change the lettering from a stroke to a fill (color = #EC7892).

Step 3e

Simply move the "awesome" lettering below the linework/window shapes and you can save out a JPG, then send along to the clients for approval.

Step 4a

Shoot! The client has come back with more changes. Now they want the paint job to be more psychedelic and read "Be Free." Additionally, they want a bird with a bird cage sitting on top of the bus. No problem, simply start sketch out the lettering using the Pen Tool.

Step 4b

Disregard the "awesome" lettering, but don't delete it, as they may want it back later. Sketch in the new lettering with the Pen Tool. You can sketch directly inside the clipping mask. To get the psychedelic feel add a few motion shape/lines.

Step 4c

Sketch in the bird cage and bird. Since this in not completely integrated in the drawing, you really just need a guide line for the top of the bus.

Step 4d

This back and forth with the client could go on forever, but with a simple set-up, you can make it just a little easier on yourself.

Step 5

Once the client has signed off and approves the sketch, it is super simple to render out the final image. Simply change the shapes/lines you drew to a .25 line and print it out.

Step 6

Using these guidelines redraw the line-work for the illustration. Scan in the drawing.

Step 7

Bring the scan into Photoshop. Go to Image > Adjustments > Threshold to make the image strictly black and white. Clean up and dust/dots with the eraser or just by painting it white. Also, to save a headache later on, separate the birdcage from the bus outline. Save as a flattened PSD.

Step 8

Open the PSD file in Illustrator and using Live Trace to vectorize the black and white drawing. The settings that I use work like a charm.

Step 9a

Copy and paste the new vector drawn line-work into of the original illustration file.

Step 9b

Align the new drawing so that it matches up with the sketch lines/shapes.

Step 9c

Delete any access shapes, like the inside of the letters, and separate out the bird cage part of the drawing to its own group.

Step 10a

Now its time to bring it all together by combing the changes line-work with the original illustration. Using the large shape from the sketch clipping mask, simply create a clipping mask of the new line-work and color as is in the sketch. Delete (or just hide it to be safe) the sketch line-work/shapes.

Step 10b

Move the sketch to the correct position, just above the neon green and below all of the other shapes. Color the new line-work and shapes according to the sketch and move the bird cage into position. Hopefully the client wont come back with more changes!

Final Image

This is a simple look-in on how, in certain cases, I handle the feedback/changes process of a project. Obviously, this process will differ depending on how an individual works and as well as their illustration style.

The final image is below. You can view the large version here.

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