Sunday, April 29, 2012

Bella Vista Elementary School Visit

Hi all! A few weeks back I had the pleasure of giving a presentation to the kids at Bella Vista Elementary School about my career as an illustrator. Well more like actually presentation(s)! I had originally wanted to give a simple talk to one small classroom of kids, but somehow ended up into 4 presentations, all back to back, in an auditorium for about 8 classes. By the end of the fourth presentation I felt my voice getting hoarse from all my babbling. Nevertheless, it was a fun experience and I'm glad I did it.

Friday, April 20, 2012

In Living Color

...And here's how it turned out.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with how everything came together. There is a lot of fun stuff going on, but for me, I especially enjoyed rendering the robo-dino. It's not too often I get to embrace my inner geek, so whenever the opportunity presents itself, I try to make the most of it.

And here's the process I took to get there...

First, I always start with the most general, I blocked in all my major shapes with color. Here I am simply establishing the basic color scheme of the illustration. In the past, when I was still working with acrylics, this step would be a lot more difficult. I'd always have to worry about losing my drawing underneath layers of paint or simply having it washed away from the water in my brush. However, with Photoshop, this problem is no longer an issue. By keeping the colors in a separate multiply layer(Photoshop speak btw.), the lines would not be effected whatsoever, which gave me the freedom to throw color around with abandon. This freed me up to play and explore different palettes without worrying about getting my colors muddy since I could always edit if needed. Definitely a true plus in working digitally. Once I settled on something I liked, I could move onto the next phase.

This meant a quick pass on the main characters and elements of the illustration. I established a bit more of the form and detail to each of the characters, but my main priority was the boy's face. With any illustration I work on, the face is the most important thing, and a major hurdle, so I try to nail those down as quickly as I can. In many ways, this can be the most crucial stage in my working process, cause it can very well set the table on how the rest of the illustration will go. Usually, if I can't get a face to look right,  it meant I'd be fighting the piece the whole time, cause I'd have to go back over and over again trying to rework it. Luckily, in this case, the boy's face didn't give me too much trouble, and I was able to get him looking pretty decent at this stage. And having cleared this major obstacle, I was able to relax a bit moving forward.

Next I gave the background and ground a pass. At this point, my brain is on auto-pilot. There's not much thinking involved here, I simply wanted to fill the back area with "junk". This part took a bit of time, and was a bit tedious, but I felt it was necessary. Obviously, the quickest and easiest solution would have been to put in a blank wall there, but it also wouldn't have added anything to the illustration either. All the stuff back there helped to establish more of the story, mood and interest to the piece, so it was time well spent.

After that, I went back to the main elements in the foreground and gave them a second pass. I focused on the smaller details this time. I cleaned up all the edges and gave it a more polished look. At this point, all my major elements were in place and I had pretty much worked everything out. This is probably my favorite part working on an illustration, once I can visualize the final illustration, I can just zone out and make things look pretty. 

And finally, here's the finished illustration again. After taking a step back, I realized I needed to rework the boy's face and expression. Along with that. I added a couple finishing touches. The lighting effects here and there, as well the the random materials on the floor. All these helped to tie everything together. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Composition, composition, composition!

Next comes the fun part, and that is designing the actual illustration. For me, it starts with jotting down some quick thumbnails...
For me, there's no real set number of thumbnails I must do before moving on to the final sketch, I just keep at it until something jumps out at me, but on average, I tend to do about 5-6. With these, all I'm doing is working out possible compositions. These should be quick and loose, and I'm sure they look like nothing more than mere scribbles, but that's kind of the point. The last thing I want to get hung up on at this phase are the details. The main focus is to explore different perspectives and points of views until I get something I feel will make for an interesting composition. Once I make my choice, I can then start on my final sketch. .

This is where I start adding in all the details, and make things look "pretty". Next comes the color...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Character Development Part 2

I'm back with a couple more sketches. This time, with the other component of my illustration. He will obviously be the main character of the piece. With his treatment, I kept going back and forth with the amount of fantasy I wanted to incorporate into his design. Part of me really wanted to go over the top with it and give him a steampunk edge, but with the illustration I have in mind, I thought better of it, and decided to root him more in reality. Next stage will be to put everything together and actually start on the sketch itself.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Character Development

Here are some sketches of a robot dinosaur character I did for an illustration idea. Here I'm playing with ideas and different looks for this character. I have yet to really settle on a specific look. I think I like pieces here and there from several, so perhaps the final rendition will be an amalgam of sorts. Though, I typically don't go to these lengths with all my illustrations (especially for just a single illustration), whenever I can, I'll make every effort to try and do so, cause I'm quickly realizing the benefit of it.  Since my goal is to push my character designing, I see it as a very necessary step in the process.

I have another character in need of designing, which means more sketches to come...