Illustration is fun. So much fun. I fucking love it. I go into a weird-concentration zone-coma-state when I'm working on something that I'm completely wrapped up in, which luckily for me is all of the jobs I work on because I have the coolest clients and best people to work with.
I get lots of questions from design students asking me about my process. The way I work differs between every artwork, so it's always hard for me to articulate a typical example of my work flow. For the last project that I posted about, the super fun illustration for Shoeshine magazine - I decided to pay a bit more attention to my process so that I could record the stages and share it with you.
So, from left to right... here we go:
Reference imagery is important, especially when working with branded product - as I want to stay true to the core elements of their product that make it so unique. Although a pair of Vans Classics is quite a streamlined design, the double stitching, fall of the laces and location of the logo pip are all important attributes to convey in order to make them look authentic.
The brief from the marketing team was for me to replicate myself customizing a pair of Vans classics in the form of an illustration for the cover. I moved all of my typical tools, pencils etc onto a white sheet of paper and styled them to sit in a loose frame format around the shoes. I then had this little scene photographed, with my hand in it. I had about 20 photos taken and the one you see in the pic was the one with the most suitable composition for the cover.
I then import the image into Illustrator, and me and my wacom tablet go flat out for a few hours drawing up the line work to form the base of the illustration as a vector drawing. I make sure all my lines have the same characteristics to them for consistency. At this stage I start adding in extra elements to fill out the negative space. I didn't have reference pics for things like the playing card and the donut, I just drew them in afterwards. It's at this stage I send the image to the client for them to check that they're happy with it. I don't want to move past this stage and colour up until Ive got the line work confirmed.
The client loves the composition (yay!) so I can go ahead and colour up. I import the vector line work into Photoshop and using what feels like hundreds of layers, I gradually build up texture, color, shadows etc. I used alot of the Platypus brand 'teal' colour, which I was supplied a pantone for. I could use whatever colours I liked as long as that colour dominated and the image wasn't gender specific. This stage probably takes the longest, as I'm really fussy with colour and spend ages getting the balance right and making sure there's no colours beating up on the other colours. Bringing the right amount of tonal variation in so that it has a hint of depth but doesn't look ridiculous also takes some time. The whole time I'm keeping in mind that the Shoeshine header and some copy has to be added, so I leave some room at the top and around the sides for this. Otherwise the text will get lost and no one will be able to read it which would completely defeat the whole purpose.
I send this off and hip hip hooray - client loves it! We tweak a couple of minor things and then I package the file up for finished art and send it on it's merry way into the capable hands of the clients design team who then bring all their copy in and get it ready for print.
That whole thing takes the best part of 3 days - however because I do all my freelance work at night time while I'm at Cotton On during the day, I think I had split it out over about 7 nights. Vans and Platypus are pretty much the best client in the world so they are always a pleasure to work with.
Hopefully that gives you a nice little insight into the nitty gritty's of my process. Now get off this screen and go make some art xxx