Michael Byrne, a creative director based in London, recently started to post pictures of his children’s book illustrations on Twitter. We’ve never imagined someone would use Shapr3D to create whole scenes and perspective illustrations. But frankly, we like them. A lot.
We like them so much, we decided to feature him in our Case Study series. Enjoy.
Origins & background
Can you tell us a little about your background?
I work as a creative director for a London design agency. I’ve recently started a part-time postgraduate MA in illustration. I’ve worked for design agencies all my career and have a degree in interactive design from Cardiff University.
I have worked mainly in digital design covering animation, interface design, gameplay, user journeys, illustration and user experience among other disciplines.
Storyboarding has also played a large part in my work as I love to draw from my imagination and it absolutely helps to sell the concept to a client.
What tools have been using for your work in the past?
I have always used the Adobe Creative Suite for my daily work process and ideation for many years, but I wanted to step away from being tied to the desktop or a laptop for my illustrative work and be a bit more mobile in my setup.
This is why I started using the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. In addition, I wanted an ecosystem that I was comfortable with. I then discovered Procreate which is pretty much the best Photoshop alternative for the iPad, but I needed an additional tool as my MA itself focuses mainly on sequential illustration.
I was used to creating storyboards and thinking in film terms as part of my day job, so I started to look around for a piece of software that would allow me to build scenes to tell stories with.
I needed an environment I could modify quickly, and move its elements around easily. I would use this environment as the base and paint over that in Procreate.
This allowed me to change points of view and perspective.
Is this when you discovered Shapr3D?
Yes. I just made a quick Google search for “3D apps for the iPad Pro”, and though Shapr3D was referenced as a CAD tool, I thought I’d give it a try anyway.
The interface immediately felt comfortable and intuitive to me, as I had previously created 3D elements in Adobe Illustrator – although I am, by no means, a 3D modeler.
How does your normal work process look like?
I start drawing on paper, directly in Procreate or just start playing with shapes in Shapr3D. Sometimes I’ll have a basic idea in mind and other times I’ll allow the drawing or modeling to shape the ideas as I experiment. The owl, for example, started as a pencil sketch, but his house I just drew intuitively in Shapr3D.
Then I model the elements of a scene, characters and worlds using extrude, revolve and transform etc. To build more complex elements from simple shapes before then taking them into Procreate.
I import them as a flat image into Procreate, to give them a more illustrative and painterly feel. In production terms, this makes things much more agile by allowing me to quickly change things, I am unhappy with.
Timing wise, I’d say as an example, the owl’s house took me half a day to model, and the test painting of him sitting on his chair was perhaps 2 hours (with plenty of coffee breaks in-between).
The world of 3D modeling is still kind of new to me, I just started experimenting with this, but as a process, this is something I’m really enjoying. I also consider it to still be drawing but just using a different tool.
What do you do, when you have to adjust the 3D models?
Very good question. I’m still early doors in using this process and have not reached this problem head on yet. I try to keep my Procreate layers very well organized but I imagine I would adjust the scene in Shapr3D, reimport the changed elements and get busy painting again.
Although, I would say having the ability to change a scene of a sequence before painting begins for any future client approval would be the best process for this. I am currently just experimenting with both painting and the story-building simultaneously.
What experiences did you have with 3D modeling so far?
Honestly, I’m not a 3D person by default and I haven’t used many at all, but it is something I feel comfortable with – generating objects in 3D space. I used to do extrude, revolve and map objects into 3D with Adobe Illustrator 3D objects and have also previously played a little with Blender3D.
iPad Pro & Apple Pencil
You mentioned you are also experimenting with the usage of the iPad for professional work. Are you satisfied with its performance?
Do you only use it on the go?
I love it and the Apple Pencil as well. I bought it specifically for illustrating, but obviously I can do all the usual things I need to such as email and listen to music as I work. Sometimes I wish it was even bigger for more screen estate but obviously still portable.
I don’t always use it on the go but always away from a desk. So it could be in a coffee shop or on a train or just on the sofa. I like the freedom the iPad gives me and it feels more like a sketchbook. It gives me back the feeling of drawing, and it is definitely less of a disconnect than on an average desktop or watching a separate screen while using a traditional tablet.
What are your favorite iPad Pro apps at the moment?
Right now, Procreate and Shapr3D. I’d love a good 3D render engine for it, though.
(Note: if you have any experience with 3D rendering on iPad Pro, leave it as a comment.)
You can follow Michael on social media, and see how his book project is evolving.