Character development - the whale gumshoe by ciro correia


This is part of my ideation process, I'll take a sketch and redraw over and over again. I do it to begin with and then I'll do it over an established sketch. Formstorming is tiring but absolutely vital - wether it's a graphic design project or a digital painting project. Small variations like these can change the basic image substantially. Doing as many as I can is key - 50 to 100.

different illustration styles by ciro correia

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. 

3 styles of crocodile by ciro correia

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. 

Photoshop versions

Illustrator version

Master study, - Seymour Joseph Guy (American, 1824–1910) - At the opera 1887 by ciro correia

Process of the study, painted under 3 hours.

I really like Guy's use of light and how he models his forms. He used a limited palette for this painting, there's a presence in the painting that I think is remarkable. He captured the moment so well, you can sense her excitement or surprise as she enjoys the show. Once again the object of a master study is not to replicate or complete the image but to learn from the artist about what they understood about the principles of art and design. He uses the subject's hands to perfectly balance the visual tension between the portrait's head and the hands - really textbook precision if you study the theory behind portraits (Composing pictures by Donald Graham is an excellent resource for these principles and is one of my favourite books on my shelf, though in my opinion the level of the book is aimed at intermediate to advanced artists since he deals with some very meaty and advanced viewpoints on the subject). I think the use of dramatic light is the thing I got most out of doing this study.  I do studies to keep my eye in and keep my illustrative skills sharp.

master study of 'At the opera 1887'

You can see a digital copy of the original I used as reference here.

Space Ape, illustration by ciro correia

Ham was the first chimpanzee (hominid) shot into space, it was 1961. Laika, a Russian street dog, was the first animal shot into orbit four years before Ham. Shortly after Ham had made his historic flight into space (January 1961) the Soviet Union launched Yuri Gagarin (April 1961) into orbit in the Vostok 1. The 'space race' was in full swing. Who won the space race is less important than the potential mankind unlocked by venturing beyond the limits of our atmosphere. The words 'Space Ape' can be interpreted in many different ways. One could take it as a reference to Ham but the meaning that was in my mind when I drew and created this poster illustration had to do with the collective us - mankind. We're hominids, part of the ape family. Over the course of our history we have looked upward to the stars, and beyond, and dreamt of ascending into those heavens. The fact that we, earth bound apes, managed to leave the confines of our natural habitat and go as far as the moon is an insanity worthy of awe- if we bother to think about it. On the other hand we haven't exactly had a good track record for being the wisest and most enlightened creatures on Earth, and that's probably why this 'Space Ape' carries a hint of malice in his eyes. Is the universe really ready for territorial, at times homicidal, and materialistic 'naked' apes who managed to learn how to harness the power of 'fire' and make their way into the heavens? We are space ape, with the power to soar - the power to cause great good or despicable evil.

Other worthy mentions- if you search space ape, by the way, are: The spaceape - the late Stephen Samuel Gordon, British poet and MC. I found one of his interviews online and it was an interesting read. Another interesting discovery when searching space ape is the amazing Space ape games based in London. Makers of Samurai Siege and Rival Kingdoms. Hopefully the third interesting discovery when searching space ape will be this blog post. :)

Final illustration with type design

Final illustration

Process from initial exploratory sketches, thumbs to final. ;)

Thumb-sketches and brainstorming

rough sketches