The Call to the Wild (The Process)
Self Portrait? Only through the distorted lens of artistic licence. Although this illustration features my favourite Michael Kors shirt, and I do wear hipster glasses, and I do always have a two-day beard, and I do run with the deer… the resemblance pretty much stops about there.
From the preliminary sketches to finished piece, Read on for the walkthrough I’ve put together of the process behind this piece.
The preliminary sketch does kind of look like me, though most of my drawings do.
I do all my preliminary sketching in Corel Painter now, it has the most realistic ‘tactile’ response of any of the programs I’ve tried. This is the cleaned up linear and finalized concept for the piece. Normally I do tighter linears before going to ‘paint’, but since this piece is going to have its line work done in Adobe Illustrator, I figured I would leave the detail work until that step.
Here I’ve brought the image into Adobe Illustrator and retraced it using the pencil tool. Illustrator allows me to create much cleaner line work than I have patience to do freehand.
Also, while in Illustrator, I worked out the plaid pattern for the shirt which would also function doubly as the color palette for the piece.
From Illustrator, I group separate areas such as nose, mouth, shirt, etc., and bring them over into Painter individually so that I can recolor and treat each differently. With the final line work in place, I do a loose color wash over the whole piece to block in colors and figure out values, as well as set an overall tonal mood to the painting.
Work All Over
I work around the piece, refining colors and details, jumping from one area to another, trying to work on the painting as a whole and not just a collection of elements. _Above: A detailed close-up of the plaid shirt pattern. Below: The _piece’s direction is beginning to take shape.
Does This SHirt Go With My Glasses?
Usually by this point in a piece’s development there aren’t any major changes left to come. With this painting, however, I did a sudden wardrobe change halfway though. I felt that the piece needed a bit more of a fashion edge to it so I added a double collar, which is something I saw on the mannequins of my favorite store, the UNI QLO on Fifth Avenue.
Putting the Background in Place
Next, it’s back into Illustrator to work out the building details. The vector artwork is again exported, and brought into Painter for recoloring.
And last but not least, the focal point of the piece, the deer in the headlights are sketched in Painter, using the ‘tapered Conté’ tool.
One More Thing
With all the Painter work done, I export the image as a layered psd file and bring it over to Photoshop for some final color and level adjustments.
The finished illustration, as you can see in the layers palette, has selectively masked areas which apply separate image adjustment layers to different elements. This is my final fine tuning of the balance of the piece.