"If you blog it, you'll regret it. If you don't blog it, you'll regret it. You'll regret it whether you blog it or not."
I think I have an obsession with the roofs of Paris (and yes it is written roofs not rooves for all of you frantically searching an online dictionary cause it just doesn't look right). I bought a book about Paris as a teenager and some of my favourite photos in it were cityscapes (of Paris) filled with lead roofs stretching endlessly into the horizon line. Light reflects strangely off of their light grey surfaces. Are they lead roofs? I have always found them intriguing. The lines and forms in these pictures were geometric but also haphazard at the same time. I don't know if anyone has noticed but another thing I fancy are giant robots- I fancy retro looking ones, they tend to look like tin buckets. Remember Robbie? This picture started to form, of a giant robot lumbering through the streets of Paris. Towering above even the highest occupants on that muted level above the sea of roofs. Just imagine leaning out your window and suddenly its there, disturbing your peaceful view of the countless roofs. Imagine your relief as it strides by. Just imagine all those hundreds of inhabitants who didn't see it go past. ;)
Below you'll find a rough sketch, blocking out basic tones, an animated gif of the process :)
I discovered illustration surrounded by tall book filled shelves within the dimly lit art and design section of the tertiary institution library I attended. It was a revelation, up till then I had feverishly pursued Graphic Design as a career. Then one day I discovered tome after tome of illustrations that spoke to me on a level I had not felt before. I wanted to be able to tell a story, illuminate minds with lines, colours, brush strokes and shapes. Back then there were no Illustration courses offered anywhere near me and even though Design was deeply satisfying I worried that I'd sell my soul to the marketing machine (ironic) so I switched to Fine Art hoping I'd gain the opportunity to speak through my art. I squandered the opportunity but gained something completely different instead. One of the reasons I was drawn to illustration at art school was the way a picture could speak without words or help words take on a different dimension. Experiencing that kind of communication makes me very happy. Painting for me is still something that I can spend my whole life doing, I could go without sleep or food- hermit myself away from all people while I paint.
This post contains images that are a result of a mixture of work done in photoshop and illustrator. The subject of this post is really about me exploring a different style. This style is very different from other things I've done. Styles are changeable for me - I think I have a promiscuous heart when it comes to styles of art and design. I want to be able to experience creating them all. Some people have said that not defining oneself to a particular style is a sign of an immature artist. There are artists and designers who I respect that have said this and I understand what they mean by it, when I was a younger artist and designer I was unsure and struggled to find direction but now things are different. So, my desire to move across a range of styles does not come from a place of immaturity. Sometimes, the people who hold this criticism as if set in stone do so because of a lack in their own abilities. I do have my own personal preferences of course, and whichever style I work in - I always seem to find my own voice within them.
Here's a character illustration from way back. I did this back in 2010, found it searching through the archives during a 'spring clean'. The character was sketched and painted with only 1 or 2 brushes. I added some grungy textures to the wall to break up the flat space. Lucille the vampire.
I've always enjoyed working across different styles. From photo-realistic work to very stylised work. There are so many levels of stylisation you can break things down into, here I've worked on character designs done in varying degrees of stylisation creating different illustrative styles.
These sketches were done in Photoshop- depending on their end purpose I'll either take the sketches into Illustrator and work on them there in a kind of 'flat' character design or I'll reiterate them in Photoshop until I'm happy with the results.
This is the first fan art I've ever done (apart from before age 11 when I used to draw smurfs, Asterix and obelix, Tintin, things from 'The Lord of the Rings' and countless superheroes- strange mix) :) Like many others I absolutely loved 'Stranger Things' - everything about it from the storyline, the characters, the cinematic atmosphere and great homage to 80's movies and Stephen King. So I finally gave in to the itch to do something themed around Stranger Things - here's a quick sketch of "Eleven".
This post is mostly about how the creative process works. I was going to write about linear perspective too- perhaps another post. I think its true that most people misunderstand how creatives work, hopefully this post helps demystify the magic of creating something out of nothing. If I'm honest, this is the way I've always worked- it's always been this way, intuitive I guess. I've also seen this process and principle taught at tertiary level. I'm not sure if it's said implicitly or implied but iteration is always the key to conceptual development or any other illustration, design or art. Conceptual illustration tends to use iteration at a faster pace, trying not to linger on the details early on. This is the process I live by, whether I'm working on a design, illustration or concept art. My early sketches can't be interpreted by anyone but me so people don't often see them- they're thinking images in which I'm ironing out angles, shapes - compositional stuff. It's fast paced and many times ugly. The more I need to figure out- the 'uglier' the early sketches are. At times I have a clearer beginning idea for whatever reason so the thumbs will look nicer earlier on, because some basics are already sorted I can then I give more to artistic expression and other skill sets. I'm constantly trying to make this gap smaller, I want to get to the point where I have a clear composition or some solid elements to work with so I try produce as many thumbs as possible to iron out issues. Bottom right you'll see these rough sketches, almost doodles in nature. They're for me only, I'll never show these to clients.
Stage two is the point where clients begin seeing my work. They're still rough compositional thumbs but they have enough information to help me decide whether I want to take the image further or not. I choose from the first stage rough thumbs and begin expanding, I'm no longer working from nothing now- I have created my own reference points. The two images at the bottom on the right are expanded thumbs. Thumbs at this stage don't have to be as detailed as these two are but they can be. Out of dozens of 'first pass' rough thumbs I choose only a few which best fit my needs and expand them- meaning I redraw them as fast as I can with as much extra detail as I can on each iteration. Layer upon layer upon layer until I'm happy that I have enough information to use the sketch as reference for the final illustration or perhaps all the client wants are looser conceptual designs then I might not redraw and polish the image but rather take it to the point where the piece communicates enough information to be used as a concept asset. Usually there is a line, or point where the 'sketch' is abandoned and you switch into rendering. It's important to understand that 'sketch' and 'rendering' differ and the difference is in your approach- the difference between using predominately line or shape, tone and colour.
For those of us who create for a living hopefully this will help grow your own process or in the very least ring true. We're all refining and learning even after years of working professionally- so if you feel you have something to add to this topic please feel free to comment and add your viewpoint.