Illustration Process: The Rescue

Good morning folks. Please allow me to delve in detail about this recent illustration, as I may be onto something in terms of a consistent style and feel for a body of work. This is exciting, as I look forward to the day when I can support myself financially, and also be of help to others. I don’t know what that will be like, and it’s easy to get carried away with all these imagined dreams of financial “freedom” and “power”. So, let’s be realistic right now and focus on getting one piece done at a time.

Before showing you the thumbnails, I’m actually going to put up an image showing the ideation process. I wasn’t sure what to create at first, but I knew I wanted to do another crow/raven piece as a painting instead of a drawing.


Here it is in all its mess. It’s a good mess though. There was a ton of boy sketches at first, as I had intended to take pictures of my little brother for reference. The more I noodled out the idea, however, the more I felt like a girl would work too. So I drew the next concept.

I love drawing the figure. I love the challenge of trying to capture a certain spirit and emotion with the body as it twists and moves either with or against something. This running figure captured what I was envisioning, but I’ve also learned it’s wise to conceptualize several perspectives of the same situation. It could be that a later version may turn out to capture my vision even better than the initial sketch. Hence, the necessary thumbnails.

I took the sketches and worked over them in Photoshop, trying to play with dark against light shapes and vice-versa, focal points, depth perception, etc. The initial sketch, however, seemed to read the clearest, thus, we go on to the refined version.

I had the good fortune of meeting Eric Velhagen a little over a week ago, and he reminded me of a great artistic principle to keep in mind when composing an image. It’s called K.I.S.S., or “Keep It Simple, Stupid”. By simple, that means simple shapes. Grouping masses together. Brent Watkinson taught me the same thing with the words “Puzzle for a Dumb Guy” in “Papa Bear, Momma Bear, Baby Bear” fashion, meaning there should often be a large mass shape, with a complimentary medium shape, and small detailed shapes. (Note: Please take this information as a set of guidelines, and not hard and fast rules. This is art, for crying out loud!)

I chose to render the focal point of the piece, leaving the surrounding shapes simple yet solid. Naturally, our eyes focus on what we want to see, blurring the edges of our peripheral vision. This piece was a big turning point for me as I’m learning I don’t have to “explain” every part of the image. It’s enough to put the information where it matters, where you want the viewer to look. Hope this post has been helpful, and best to you in your creating endeavors this week.