Ripper Graphic in Pixelmator

Recreate the Ripper Skateboard Graphic in Pixelmator



Growing up, skateboarding was a big part of my life, I gravitated toward it because of it's individual expression without judgement. It's heros were accessible and it made you get out and explore your world and look at things differently. Many people dismiss artwork because it's found on a skateboard, but over the years some of the most amazing pieces of art have been found on its wooden canvas. When I started skating I was influenced by skaters like Tony Hawk, Steve Caballero, Lance Mountain and my favorite Rodney Mullen. The artwork found on the boards of the time was awesome and the most iconic pieces to this day is the Bones Brigade Ripper Graphic. So break out your pen & tablets and I'll show you how I recreated this killer logo!

Why use a Pen & Tablet? Because you can take advantage of the natural feel of holding a pen, pencil or paintbrush. By using different pressures you can instantly get different line weights. It takes a little practice but a mouse just can't do this with out constantly changing the diameter.

ripper brush 1

Now a technique we are going to use in this tut is creating lines that quickly go from thin to thick at the ends. Practice starting with a little pressure and pushing harder to the end of the line. The other way is to start with a lot of pressure and gradually let off. Find what feels right to you and practice a few times on a white canvas.

ripper brush 2

Step 1 - Composing the Head

We'll start real simple by opening a 1000 x 1000px canvas and choose the Brush tool. Use a default round brush at about 20px, set the hardness at about 80%, pen pressure to 10% and sketch a 430px circle. Feel free to use the Elliptical Shape tool to pull a perfect 430px circle to use as a guide.

ripper brush 3 ripper1

Next we'll draw the jaw bone. If we look at our reference art we can see the face is angled or tilted slightly. After placing a vertical guideline in the center of the circle, I used a screen and angle measuring tool called Pixelstick. Placing the endpoints on the circle at about 105 degrees (15 degree tilt) gave me the angle of the jaw. Draw the chin bottom line at that angle and sketch the sides of the jaw as I've done.


Now we want to add some symmetry guidelines. Draw a vertical line from the top of the head where our angle started down to the center of the chin with a slight curve to it, representing the curve of the face. Then draw the horizontal line from where the jaw meets the circle with a slight arch to it.


Next sketch the opening that he'll be breaking thru. Notice where the line starts towards the top left on the skull and the bottom line is perfectly horizontal. The right starts lower from the skull following the angle of the head and then we angle over to the bottom line matching the jaw line.


Step 2 - Shaping the Fingers

Let's start to sketch the shapes of the left hand. Look at the original drawing to get the size and placement correct. I drew ovals for the knuckles and curved lines to connect them and finally the claw-like fingertips. Remember we are just composing general shapes at the moment, not trying to be too detailed.


Repeat the use of the ovals for the knuckles and curves to connect them for the right hand. Notice the angle and hand placement is different on this side.


Step 3 - Torn Material

Next draw the basic outline of the ripped material referencing the original drawing.


Step 4 - Spine & Ribs

Now we'll draw the general position of the spine and curve of the ribs.


Add the top ribs getting larger as they curve around to the front.


Finish the ribs as indicated by the arrows and add a few square shapes as shown for the shoulder bone where the arm connects.


Step 5 - Drawing the Face

Ok now that we have our basic skeleton structure let's work on the skull starting with the eyes. Draw two circles on a separate layer along the horizontal curve we made earlier. Place them about halfway from the vertical line to the outside of the circle. The left eye is set just slightly to the right of that halfway point.


Now draw an arrow or spear-like shape for the nose opening.


From the nose sketch the curves to define the mouth and where the teeth will come together.


We now want to draw the eye sockets. Start with the right eye and from the pupil look at the reference drawing to see how far away the top of the socket is and sketch a horizontal mark. Do the same for the bottom. Go over to the left pupil and do the same, mark the top and bottom. Then connect the horizontal guidelines to define the boundary of the eye sockets. Because of the tilt of the head the left eye is closer to us and thus larger. Finally start to sketch out the eye sockets within the boundary lines.


Finish the eye sockets up keeping an eye on distances to the nose and edges of the skull to get it right. They should look like a pair of sunglasses.


Add some reference lines for the teeth. They should start on either side of the vertical guideline of the face.


Step 6 - Detailing the Skull

Now group all of your current layers and turn down the groups opacity so we can focus on shaping the skull. On a new layer above the group sketch the details starting where the skull actually curves in near the right eye and curves out for the cheekbone, then bring it back in to meet the teeth. Add a curved line on that right side just between the cheekbone and the teeth down to the bottom of the teeth. Next draw a curved "V" line above the center of the eyes, Then carry the curve over to the left side around the eye and back around the skull. Add the two open areas of the left side of the jaw as shown and finally a sort of dimple line on the chin.


Add this detail layer to the top of the group and you've got your rough composition done! We'll use this as the framework of our final detailed drawing.



  • Gerard says:

    Love what you can do with pixelmator and some skill
    Great job

  • Crickettgrrrl says:

    VERY nice indeed!

  • Joe says:

    The skaters you looked up to where for sure on my list. My favorite being Tony Mullen as well. I remember seeing a skate video called Propaganda and I was hooked. Remember Thrasher Magazine? I am 32 now and the only thing to make it out of my past was the DC shoes, but I have the memories. Oh well life goes on…

    I like the tablet approach to this tutorial. I am using a simple Wacom Create Tablet (I know there are better ones, but I wasn’t sure if I would like the experience.) It is always nice to see what you are going to teach next.

    Thanks for the tutorial and the memories.

  • Joe says:

    correction Rodney Mullen, but I think you knew what I meant.

    Thanks again.

  • Jacob Bordieri says:

    Thanks guys it means alot!

    @Joe Yep I’ve since hung up my board as well so I have great respect for these guys pushing 40 something and still nailing it. I was inspired by the recent Bones Brigade documentary by Stacy Perelta, brings back memories for sure. I want to get a few of the old boards I’ve had and hang them in my office.

    As far as the tut I’m just using a cheap Wacom Bamboo with a worn down tip, works great.

    Thanks again and come back for more!