Artist | Nicholas G. Dittmer

I am an English expat and have been living in Phuket for nearly 17 years. I began a career as a diving instructor on the Great Barrier Reef in 2002 and discovered a fascination with the reef and the life on it. Through a series of adventures and amazing luck (finding an underwater camera) I started my first business. Marine life ID cards, also known as "fish slates". It was during this time I began to learn how to use a computer and start familiarizing myself with both Adobe and Corel products.

Drawing deck layouts all came about when I was working as an instructor for a Singaporean company operating in Thailand. They were building floating hotels essentially. The most luxurious liveaboards in the region. And through word of mouth I was drafted in to draw the deck layout plans. Back then everything was CorelDraw and it was an exciting new world. I had seen computer generated art years prior and it blew my mind. A long path lay ahead but the die was cast.Happy Days map

I have always had an artisic streak. My mother and grandmother could both paint and draw. I studied art at A-level. If art really is something one can study... I went to Norwich Art School to study Foundation Art but left prematurely having found no purpose to the course whatsoever. They had this grand idea of stripping me down in order to be reborn. Fact is I knew what I wanted to achieve and moving an egg safely through 2 cubic meters was not it. I was however proficient in the more traditional mediums like oil, acrylic, watercolour, pencil, charcoal I could go on. Not to mention painting a map of the world on a wall!

They say it takes 10,000 hours to truly master a skill. It takes that long to drive the muscle memory home. I don't really count the hours when I am creating things. It is fair to say that a project can run into the hundreds of hours but I don't use a clock in card. This is more a labour of love. Once I get started I can think of nothing else and I literally live and breath the boat I am drawing. The better I understand her, the better the drawing turns out in the end.

The Process

"Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs" - Henry Ford

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"If it doesn't work in black and white it won't work in color" - Sorry, just me

In short I create the images using vector shapes on seperate layers with (layer) styles applied to them (in Photoshop). What is a vector shape? A shape that can be scaled up in size with no loss of quality. A rectangle is a common example and complex shapes can be drawn with the pen tool. In addition it can be infintly adjusted due to a system of nodes, curves and handles.

Fig. 1 illustrates the early planning stage. Shapes are drawn in black and white and it is here that the intitial proportions are defined. Dull as the image is at this point this is the most important step of all. If these foundations are wrong, no amount of colouring in will rescue the project.

Fig. 2 shows the 'fun' stuff. We start adding styles in the form of colour, gradients, shadows, textures etc. The key thing to remember when doing any kind of drawing is "less is more". It's always tempting to make shadows too dark or objects too large. This stage involves alot of drawing and 'creating' the fine details, filling the space so to speak. Because we are dealing with a finite space, things will only ever fit properly if everything is the correct size. Else we end up either with blank space or not enough space. Every object has a direct relationship with every other object. I have to add that it is crucial to understand what is being drawn. Its not a rectangle. It's a tissue box holder.

Fig. 3 shows the image coming to life as we continue to work into it, most of this time is spent making minor adjustments and organizing layers (and naming them) for ease of access.

Once complete and green lit I will upscale the image to A1 international paper size (300 DPI, CMYK) and export to PDF. This will ensure the highest quality print. In the rare event a commercial printer requires RGB files I can optimize for that too. It is worth mentioning that these images can be updated anytime in the future so nothing is set in stone.

My Pledge to You

Every project must at least equal if not better the one preceding it.

Projects will be completed in a timely fashion.

The price will be fair to both you and me.

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