Not all artists want their work to instantly seem digital – Magnus Blomster combines Illustrator with a hand-drawn style that makes the image seem an implausibly perfect pen-and-ink drawing.
“My main reason for choosing vectors is that I am a perfectionist,” he says. “If something goes wrong – no matter how insignificant – when I'm doing an ink drawing I start over from scratch and thus very rarely finish any ink drawings. I don't think it aids my style in any particular way since my style is what it is, but it has certainly increased the rate of finished images in my portfolio.”
Magnus' erotic images feature elegant women – usually his girlfriend – surrounded by curlicues. He describes his style as a blend of Art Nouveau – “I have known and loved [it] since I was a little boy,” he says – with religious symbolism, pornography and “general weirdness”.
His work refuses to fit into illustration trends – possibly because he never set out to be professional illustrator. “I've always drawn... the getting paid for doing it part just sort of happened by itself.”
To create a piece, Magnus scans a pencil sketch, and then painstakingly traces its lines as closed paths. “I always use the Pen tool with 0.1pt red lines when I draw something on top of a sketch, to be able to see what I'm doing,” he explains.
He selects everything on the layer, removes the lines and, in a separate layer, fills the shapes. “After that, still with everything selected, I bring up the Pathfinder and use the Unite tool, then hit Expand to make everything on the layer one single shape.”
Finally, he adds layers for the background and face colours, and that's it. He uses the Pen, Ellipse and Pathfinder tools – “No other effect or filters or trickery. All lines are filled shapes – I never use actual 'lines' in any of my finished images.”
The secret to Magnus' success is to work in immense detail while avoiding fancy tools. This approach keeps file sizes manageable, but it's also key to the way he views Illustrator. “I use Illustrator more as a pen than as a program,” he says.