31 January, 2013
It’s been a little while since I’ve done any posts about my process, so I thought I would remedy that here. The image above shows the various stages of development for The Cabin in the Woods illustration I posted yesterday.
Illustrations like this start with a pencil sketch. Truth be told, they start with a lot of pencil sketches. It sometimes takes a while to come up with a direction I am happy with. The final pencil sketch does not have to be perfect, it just needs to be close enough for me to have something to start working with. I will often add or refine details in the next stage.
Once I get a pencil sketch that I am satisfied with, I import it into Adobe Illustrator to use as the basis for a vector drawing. The pencil sketch is placed on a separate layer and then the I start re-drawing it using the pen tool. A lot of people don’t like using the pen tool, but I actually feel somewhat comfortable with it (as long as I don’t have to draw something from scratch with it). At this stage, I try and get the shapes exactly how I want them. I am less concerned about the colors. For those, I try to block in the basic color direction I want, but I leave a lot of room to tweak and finesse when I get to the next stage.
The next stage is done in Photoshop. I export the drawing from Illustrator as a PSD file. This option allows me to retain any layers I set up in Illustrator. This is extremely helpful in dealing with separate elements in more complex illustrations. I open the exported PSD in Photoshop and then set out to “un-vectorize” the illustration. While I like many of the advantages that the vector tools bring in Illustrator, I don’t like the “raw” vector look of those tools. This Photoshop stage is where I can rough up the illustration a bit, and make it look more like it was done by human hands. I had some tone, shadow and texture to give it a slight painted feel. I also fine tune the colors to give them a little more pop.
And that’s pretty much about it! The whole process takes a bit more time than I would like, but I like the results I get. It’s a totally different feel from my brush and ink stuff.