Make digital projects seem hand-made

10 handmade digital project ideas

Our sterling contributors to this feature offer great suggestions for how you can incorporate handmade elements into digital projects – or vice versa.

Ben Newman Cut out rectangles, triangles and circles from paper and textiles in a range of colours, and assemble them to create faces. The more abstract the results, the better.

Kate Hindley Play around using scanned printed textures as a multiplied layer over flat-coloured Photoshop work.

Pietari Posti Print out an A4-sized black rectangle on cheap inkjet paper. Scratch it, crease it and scrape off the black in some corners. Scan the damaged areas and use them to create custom brushes with the Magic Wand tool. You can create several from one piece.

Suzie Webb Try ‘drawing’ with food – make spaghetti rivers, cauliflower trees, that kind of thing.

Emily Alston When you’re next at a flea market or junk shop, pick up some artefacts as a springboard for new work. It’s important to look for inspiration in unexpected places, and not rely on looking at the work of your peers.

2&3 Create some simple curly lines in a 3D package and sweep or extrude them to form ribbons. Place them on a plain white surface, light the scene with a planar source to achieve soft shadows without hard edges. Render from directly above with a wide-angle camera.

Lesley Barnes Construct a character by cutting out some paper shapes and playing around with them. Scan your shapes in and add detail and colour in Photoshop/Illustrator.

Eoin Ryan Find an old, worn poster and try to replicate its different textures without using any filters in Photoshop. You can use layers and blending modes, but only work on physical textures that you created yourself.

Doug Alves Use Indian ink with the pencil to create new brushes on paper and scan it into Photoshop.

Mathis Rekowski Draw a character from one of your favourite movies and try to make it look like an old painting.

Mr Eks’ Camden Players

Coney + Suzie Webb

One of the cards designed by Suzie Webb

The London Borough of Camden commissioned the Coney agency and illustrator Suzie Webb to create a website that users could visit to find a venue or event for a night out in the borough over the summer.

The result was a quirky site titled Mr Eks’ Camden Players. It invites users to make a series of choices involving cards from ‘The Adventurer’ to ‘The Bohemian’ (right), each based on a subculture or archetype associated with current or historical Camden. Those choices are then used to ‘divine your personality’ and match the user to an upcoming event that might be to their taste.

Coney co-director Annette Mees describes the site’s beautiful handmade feel as a “mash-up aesthetic of many different forms of historical counterculture, outsider art, the underground and the mysterious, with an overall aesthetic of DIY, the physical, the touchable”.

Suzie Webb’s portfolio of tactile, Monty Python-ish illustrations were the inspiration for the playful aesthetic, capturing Camden’s colourful history. “To me, Camden has layers and layers of stories hidden in its very fabric, like peeling off layers of wallpaper in an old house and finding something amazing,” Suzie says.

The combination of Suzie’s papercraft with digital techniques gave the artwork “a human touch” which was essential to breathing life into the characters acting as your personal guides. After all, they are “offering something you will [personally] love in Camden – a bit secret but definitely for you”, says Suzie.

“We wanted to achieve the feeling that Mr Eks’ method of cultural fortune-telling exists outside of the digital realm,” Annette adds.

(Top-bottom) Three images of Suzie’s cut-outs, which were photographed to create the Camden website’s animations

Sadly the website is no longer fully functional now that the summer is over. While it lasted, however, it was a unique collection of characters that are as engaging as they are strangely appealing, representing the true heart of Camden as a place where “different aesthetics and ideas collide to create new and exciting things”, as Annette describes it.,,

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