In today’s process post, I’m going to show you how I take an idea from a quick thought sketch to the finished illustration. I decided to push myself one step further for my article in this month’s COLORED PENCIL Magazine by doing illustrations to accompany my topic on how to determine which art tutorials are best for you. Normally, I am responsible for writing the content and of course supplying any relevant imagery, but it’s not a requirement that I supply drawings for each article. I was having trouble finding stock images that worked well with my content so it became clear that the only solution was to draw my own.
Getting My Ideas Out
A valuable technique I learned in college was to do thumbnail sketches before starting a drawing. This is a great way to get all of your ideas out and get a sense of balance and composition before spending a lot of time on a drawing. For these illustrations, I knew I would need 3 different drawings that would show the learning personality types I described in my article and an additional one to set up the beginning of the frustrated artist trying to make a decision.
At first, I thought I would draw a different character for each personality type and was going to run with that. After some more thought and sketches, I decided that using a singular character, who I named “Jane,” would better represent the individual reader and their process in this journey. I also wanted the meaning of illustrations to be understandable even if you didn’t fully read the article. (Of course, I hope that people are reading every word I write, though 😉 )
Solidifying the Drawing
The next step in my process was to get the style and composition of the drawing sorted out. Once I had that where I wanted it, I transferred that drawing to a clean sheet of paper to be inked and colored. I didn’t always work this way, but having the original pencil sketch to go back to if you mess up or if something isn’t working out is a real life saver. Transferring your drawing to a new sheet of paper is also great if you had a lot of erasure marks or areas you needed to rework on the original. I will usually go straight to inking on the new sheet as well so I don’t have pencil lines to worry about erasing on my final copy.
Ink and Colour
I have a few color palettes I like to stick to so that part was easy for me. Sometimes I will do some test coloring digitally if I can’t quite picture what it will look like. Since this was for COLORED PENCIL Magazine though I thought it would be appropriate to color my illustrations with colored pencils. I used Faber-Castell PITT Pens to ink the lines as they would provide a more solid and uniform black line once the drawings were scanned.
After scanning my drawings at a high resolution, I color corrected, cleaned up any stray marks or issues that weren’t supposed to be there and then added in some digital gradations to enhance areas of the illustrations in Photoshop.
After I had got my illustrations to the point I was happy with them, I double checked some technical specs like size and resolution to make sure that they would print well. I also tried to estimate the largest size I thought the illustration would be printed at. Normally, you would get this type of information ahead of time, but since I was not doing the layout, I wanted to give the graphic designer the flexibility to size them as needed in relation to the copy.
It was so much fun not only writing the article but also doing the illustrations as well! I hope you enjoyed seeing a little more into my process on this project. If you are interested in reading the full article you can purchase a print or digital copy of the January 2017 issue on COLORED PENCIL Magazine’s website by clicking here.