Scriba Spotlight: Brian Yap

Scriba Stylus
7 min readMar 30, 2016

We had quick chat with one of Adobe Studio’s Creative Directors.

Can you give me a brief background on yourself?

I always drew, from a young age. But I never took it seriously until discovering comics, and even then it was just a hobby. It really wasn’t until being inspired by band flyers and album art that I really thought it was something you could do — that I wanted to do. I think even in art school I wondered if there would be a career after that, but in truth by then it didn’t matter. I was hooked.

I went to VCU School of the Arts. They had a program that really allowed me to focus on illustration, but even today some of the design lessons I tried to ignore from other teachers surfaces and proves to me how important that program was to me. Basic lessons like composition, hierarchy and color theory come back everyday. I was also lucky enough to have an illustration teacher that really pushed exploration with technique, something that has stayed with me through my career.

Coming out of school I landed a job at a toy company in the midwest. I drew all day, pencil to paper. We designed everything the old way, drawing views calling out colors, building models. It was an amazing experience that really allowed me to develop my skills even further. I was also exposed to some really inspiring artists with backgrounds in comics. I learned as much as i could from them and it had a lot to do with the style I have today.

What are you currently working on?

I have a couple projects going right now. One is being part of a crowdfunding project to do book covers for novels in the public domain. But the majority of my time is spent using that illustration background to help demo mobile apps and push the boundaries of what can be done with them. I’ve really fallen in love with the possibilities there and it’s added a lot of new layers to my work. I’ve been creating illustrations with tutorials on my site that show ways you can bend and push apps to create beyond what you might think they are capable of.

Check out some of those tutorials on Brian’s Youtube channel here.

How would you describe your style?

I think my style is most probably related to music posters. The minute I had the chance to do that kind of work at an agency, I found that all of that comic book, street art and pen and ink that loved so much, merged into a style that works in posters really well. It’s very detailed but also designed around the idea of screen printing so usually just 2–3 colors.

Do you combine both digital and traditional methods to produce your work?

Originally my approach was to draw with a pencil, ink with a pen, scan and then translate to vector in Adobe Illustrator. But since product like Adobe Draw on the iPad came out I have been skipping that step and working the drawing on a mobile app that creates vector and then going from there to Illustrator.

Can you describe how traditional methods can help you create digitally?

Every new tool is just that. A tool. New software and devices don’t all of the sudden make you good at drawing. In the end, you should always practice basics like life drawing and sketching ideas. Those foundation skills just allow you to take advantage of digital workflows. For me it means a lot less ink on my fingers. But at a basic level those methods are really the same.

What’s your favourite piece of art?

There is so much out there to love. Some people’s work I love to see, some inspire and affect my own styles. Historically the work of Harry Clark, especially the work he did to illustrate Edgar Allan Poe, Bernie Wrightson and his Frankenstein graphic novel, almost anything by Aaron Horkey. Moebius, Geof Darrow, Frank Miller, Dave Kinsey, the comic art and writing of Taiydo Matsumoto. I could go on forever about what has influenced me old and new. But art is also a broad term. Writers like Haruki Murakami and musicians of all sorts have a huge influence on me.

What is the best piece of digital art you have come across recently?

Hard to answer this, but mostly because to me the best digital art is probably something that is hard to tell if it’s digital. But if you haven’t seen the work of Hydro74, both his work and process are phenomenal. Im also a big fan of Alejandro Chavetta, who does these amazing collage designs that blur the line between what is digital and what is just handcrafted. Both of them have been experimenting with animating their designs which just ads a whole new layer. Also if you haven’t seen Kyle Lambert’s Morgan Freeman portrait using his finger on an iPad — you should watch that video right now. It’s so unbelievable.

What skills or techniques are you working to try improve at the moment?

Truthfully I have been experimenting with digital watercolour — both in Adobe Sketch and Photoshop. And merging that with my more graphic vector stuff. Creating a blend of techniques but that still looks like my style. It’s important to evolve as you work but I am also really happy with some of the approaches I’ve developed. So at this point it’s just continuing to experiment to see what can be added and taken away from the way I work.

Can you give our readers a tip or trick you like to use in your work?

So something that has come up a lot in my process recently. Well a couple things but they are related. The term “working digitally” implies it’s very different than working in traditional analog way. On one hand it isn’t at all. It is still drawing, painting, coloring, designing etc. Using a different tool is no different than using an airbrush as opposed to a paint brush. On the other hand there are things that are possible only in the digital workspace. Layers, history, file duplication. For a tip I would say learning to identify and categorize those things is the most important approach to any technique. For example, understanding layers and how they work, allowed me to work color into my work in way that was not possible or at least frowned on in painting. Thats working dark to light. It doesn’t change the need to understand color — but has created a process I’m more comfortable with and faster because of.

Beyond that, experiment and always be inspired to take tools to new and even impossible places. I’m sure that when the first paints were created no one imagined what a Michelangelo or Picasso would do with them, when photoshop was created it was to retouch photos, and I doubt that even just 25 years ago anyone imagined the incredible things that could be done with it. Tools are defined by the artists that use them. In the digital art world that’s true at every level.

Links To Brian’s portofolio and social media pages can be found below.


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