The Artmaking Process

I've chosen a magazine illustration to, er... illustrate the artmaking process I usually go through. The client is Revolver - a hard rock magazine. The brief was to illustrate a story for their 'Tales From the Pit' section, where musicians recount funny or interesting stories from the road.

In this case it was Bjorn 'Speed' Strid from metal band Soilwork, and it was his account of bass player Ola falling through the stage that I was to draw.

All my art is made using both traditional and modern materials. These days I enjoy sketching digitally, using a Wacom Cintiq interface which allows me to draw directly onto the screen. It is a very close feel to drawing on paper and allows my digital work to have a natural feel. Depending on the desired outcome I will then either use brush and ink, or draw the linework digitally, then colour. Increasingly I'm doing more digital painting, where I skip the inking stage and just colouring over the sketch.

1. THE THUMBNAIL ROUGH

The thumbnail is a really quick five-minute rough (or 'scamp') to communicate to the client the composition of the piece and generally how it will look. In this case I've drawn three different angles of the falling through the floor event.

I consider the thumbnail THE most important part of the illustration: if the composition is wrong here, no amount of rendering will save it.

The client chose #1, so now we move on to the sketch...

 Thumbnail Roughs -- very quick compositional 'scamps' to communicate the idea

Thumbnail Roughs -- very quick compositional 'scamps' to communicate the idea

2. THE SKETCH

So here's where the real meat and bones of the illustration happens. I try to keep my sketching loose enough to keep the energy, and tight enough that I don't have to think too much while inking. It's a delicate balance.

This illustration required caricatures of the whole band, so I gathered up a dozen or so reference photos to make sure I would capture their likenesses. I also jotted down their instruments over their band photo just to make sure that I got it right while sketching.

The client was pleased. No revisions, so I went on to ink and colour. The next thing the client will see is the finished art.

 The Sketch -- I usually add some shading & wash to get the look 'n' feel somewhat closer to how the finish will turn out

The Sketch -- I usually add some shading & wash to get the look 'n' feel somewhat closer to how the finish will turn out

3. INKS

I inked this in digitally using the Wacom Cintiq. With solid linework it's pretty hard to go wrong from here...

 Black & White inks

Black & White inks

4. BASE COLOUR

Here I lay down flat colours to use as a base for the detailed colour work. I also map out areas to select in Photoshop. The colours don't have to be perfect at this stage, but I like to make sure the illustration is working tonally, or at least has the basic palette before setting off on the shading. In this case it was very brown and purple-heavy, which I thought would suit the rock & roll feel.

 Base colour

Base colour

5. SHADING & FINISHED ART

Voila! I've added painted shading and texture, corrected colours and added highlights to pop the foreground figure out. This illustration is a balance between foreground and background; thr trick being to draw the eye into the centre and then allow it to move around the rest of the piece.

I sent the preview to the client. They loved it, and to finish the cycle: here it is published in the mag...

 Finished art

Finished art

 Turned out nicely!

Turned out nicely!