Illustration Process: Gaming

The process for this piece (pieces?) went a little different than usual. I wanted to draw from some live reference, so I started by sketching this model’s head.


I’m also somewhat of a gamer and wanted to try a piece with that theme in mind. Recently, this artist’s work has caught my eye.

His name is Sachin Teng. I really like how he portrays realistic subject matter in a block-like way. Although there’s not a huge amount of rendering, the compositions are structurally solid. I want to try and mimic this look for myself and see what I learn. Using Photoshop, a Wacom bamboo pen and a tablet, I start with defining the head.


As I work on this, I have the idea in mind to stick a gamecube controller inside his soon-to-be bisected head. This process is different for me because I’m working on the fly and have a general idea of what the final should look like. I did not draw thumbnails in preparation or anything. Next, I draw a controller from life and attempt to color it as well.

This controller is nearly finished, but the visual final isn’t clicking. At first, I try to bisect the head horizontally like in Sachin’s illustration of the sculpture head. The controller is really hard to see and as I keep manipulating the image and opening the head wider or diminishing the controller, it feels like I’m sticking a square peg in a round hole. Nothing is working. First of all, the controller is at the wrong angle to appear in correct perspective with the head. No amount of inverse flipping is going to fix that, so, it’s back to the drawing board.

Second of all, the horizontal bisect isn’t working, but what about a vertical bisect? This is the kind of thinking I need to do more often. It’s easy to have fixed expectations about something, but when nothing is turning out the way you hoped, perhaps looking at the problem from a different angle will help. At least that’s what worked for me.

I have another idea: to illustrate the model holding the outline of a controller. Back to drawing from life again.

I’m coloring the body in Photoshop thinking, ‘Yes, yes, and then put two and two together.’ So I try that, but the final image is getting too complicated. Two and two is not making four, it’s making something like 3.1459…..sooo, I separate the initial final concept and make it into two. Two pieces that can compliment each other.

This is much simpler than the intended final. If I had combined both pieces, I would have also had to bisect the body at some point when I initially wanted the separation to happen in the head. From this process, I learned a lot about problem solving. It was a lot of fun and I really like how it turned out. The fact that the final is digital also makes me happy. To get a handle on a previously unfamiliar tool set is encouraging. Best to you on your creative journey. Always keep exploring.