Monday, August 4, 2014

Blog Tour - My Illustration Process

Hey there, this post is part of a blog tour, each week a new artist writes about their process and then invites 2 more to participate next week (go to the bottom of the post for their links).

A big thanks to my tweep Amanda Erb for inviting me. Her post is here.

What am I currently working on?

Mostly taking care of our new baby girl...

   ...but other than that a lot of my work these days has been on some picture book dummies and building my portfolio. I recently reached a crossroads a while back that has led me to work on broaden my range.

On top of that, I still do a lot of educational work, and work on apps that seems to be always ongoing.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Wow, what a toughie...

My style up to now was really defined by my process. Crisp edges, strong sense of shape, very limited use of line, and bold bright colours.

Now that I'm developing a greater range of approaches, I'm finding that it all comes down to the underlying drawing. I strive for a strong sense of character and emotion. Anything on top of that is gravy.

Why do I illustrate what I do?

I've always been mostly interested in drawing people. Animals are okay, and scenery is the worst! Since my kids were born, a lot of what I do is just to entertain them. If you're ever stuck for inspiration, hang around a kid. They're ridiculous.


How does my illustration process work?

The sole process that I've used for the past several years was to sketch digitally in photoshop, refine my sketch n a new layer, build my foundation in illustrator, and then add texture and shading in photoshop again.
Foundation is built up in Illustrator
While I'm not abandoning this technique, I am working to develop additional processes to achieve more of a hand drawn feel.

I still always sketch exclusively digitally. I need the flexibility it provides. These sketches usually take 2 to 3 refinements which I build up to in different layers.

Here are some recent examples where I build my base in photoshop. Sometimes I block in all the colour, and sometimes I block in using grey tones and add a colour layer on top (a technique I learned reading David Opies blog).
Foundation built up of colour
Foundation built up of tones with colour layer added on top

On top I add in more shadows, highlights, and details. But the crux is that you REALLY need a good drawing to start with. Otherwise the rest is just polishing the proverbial turd.

Good photoshop brushes don't hurt either though. Here's the ones that I like:

David Opie Dry
David Opie Wet
Chris Oatley Essentials
Kyle T. Webster Megapack

To be honest, I myself only use about 6 or 7 brushes in total, otherwise my head starts to spin from the possibilities.

Up next is:


David Opie was born and raised in the beautiful rolling hills of Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. After he "grew up," he headed to Providence, RI, so that he could earn his BFA in illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design. He went on to earn his master's degree from the MFA "Illustration As Visual Essay" program at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan.
David illustrated Dozer's Run, a picture book published by Sleeping Bear Press (May 2014 release).
His illustrations have appeared in such publications as Family PC, Highlights High Five, Keyboard Magazine, The Little Lutheran, LA Times, Providence Journal, Providence Phoenix, Publishers Weekly, Rhode Island Monthly, Spider Magazine, Sports Illustrated for Kids, TimeOut Chicago and Weekly Reader.
He has worked for many educational publishers, including Celebration Press, Heinemann, Houghton Mifflin, Macmillan, McGraw-Hill, National Geographic School Publishing, Scholastic, and SoundPrints (for the Smithsonian). David illustrated a series of trade chapter books for Ladybird Books UK, and JD Publishing produced a children's picture book that he illustrated.
He has taught at the Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago and was a full-time instructor in the illustration department of the American Academy of Art in downtown Chicago.



3 comments:

  1. Marcus, great expressions on your characters!

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