The term “Bigfoot” as we know it seemed to originate in 1958 in the Bluff Creek area of California. In 1957, workers begin clearing a path for a new road in Bluff Creek. The workers there report finding 50 gallon oil drums and 700 pound tires thrown around, and throughout the site extraordinarily large human-like footprints. The Humbolt Times reported on the story and published photos of plaster casts of the first “Bigfoot” prints. That’s the beginning of Bigfoot in popular culture , but stories of the creature goes back much further than that. Native Americans have legends and pictographs of the creature going back hundreds of years.
I first heard about Sasquatch cave art on the popular MonsterQuest program on the History Channel. Not the most academic of resources, but I think it’s a great show. It was the “Legend of the Hairy Beast” episode on season two. Kathy Moskowitz Strain was on the show talking about pictographs found on the Toule River Indian Reservation that predate any European settler by at least 500 years. Other tribes across the US have legends of a similar creature, but this is the first pictograph I had heard of.
So the pictograph on the MonsterQuest program was kind of fuzzy, and had a lot more line work on it, so I sort of simplified things. I thought it was a cute image, but the original had this large markings under the eyes that I didn’t think added to the cuteness so I removed them. What’s left is just the curvy form with the furry paw like hands and feet, and the two dots for eyes. It sort of reminds me of a scooby doo villian. Anyway as you can see above thats just the paths in illustrator with a simple stroke on it. That’s a start but not cute enough. I wanted to have a varying line weight, so to do that I wanted to make a couple custom brushes in illustrator.
To make a custom brush that looks like a brush or quill stroke (fat in the center and skinny at the ends), all you need is a basic oval to start with. You just drag that oval to your brush palette and it will ask you if you want to make it a brush and you say yes. That’s it. Well that’s almost it. What I just said will work, but I added a few more steps in there. A circle in illustrator is made up of one continuous path with four vertices. (Those little square dots along the path.) Depending on what you want to paint with your brush, 4 vertices for your custom brush may not be enough. If you have some fancy curve sometimes you’ll get weird effects if you have a low number of verts. Never fear however, but it is really simple to add vertices without even touching your artwork. Just go to the path menu in Illustrator and hit the “add anchor points” option and what that will do is double the amount of vertices you have on your shape. You can click this as many times as you like, doubling each time.
Once you have a suitable shape, the next step is to just try it out. It’s hard to predict exactly how things are going to look, so it’s a trial and error process. On mine, I found that the ovals were too pointy on the ends when I stretched them out, so I just simply removed some of the vertices from the ends of shape and that rounded things out for me. Also shown in the graphic above is several different sizes of ovals for several different brushes, intended for several different lengths of strokes. There is a “proportional” option in illustrator custom brush settings that will scale the shape up or down to fit the size of the path, but scaling the shape isn’t always what you want. His little hand tufts had really short strokes, and if I had just used a proportional setting on the larger brush, it would have scaled them so small you could barely see them. Since I’m dealing with a minimum width requirement for vector designs on spreadshirt, I needed a short brush that was still thick enough.
The other addition I made was sort of a solid fill shape for his body. This is used in cartoons all the time for hair and such, where the lines don’t touch each other, so you just sort of take the general form and average things out for the colored fill shapes. One very convenient way to do this is to save a copy of your paths without a brush setting on them, just a plain stroke. As long as you don’t mess with anything, this should naturally follow the center of your custom brush lines. Just connect the end points and fill.
Since I was able to use a vector design, I had more flexibility with the printing processes used on the shirts. I can interactively choose which color combination I want for the design, depending on my shirt color. I also experimented with some flock printing too, although I haven’t ordered any yet. Flock printing is just a fuzzy vinyl that’s cut and then pressed onto the shirt fabric. This is the first paranormal shirt that was cute enough to warrant it. Not all of them have it, just a few womens shirts. You’ll have to check in the shirt details.