Illustration Process

I promised last week I'd share the process of the email illustration I completed for the cover of the C-Ville Weekly. Not all of my illustration work is done through this process or even this style and approach. However I often use digital painting, due to the ease and speed that it affords me. It helps keep the time invested down, the cost, and in turn, keeps time-invested work affordable to the papers.

This illustration had to do with employees losing privacy in their company email accounts. Apparently bosses were taking actions as far as firing workers for mentioning opinions that violated 'company' opinion, in personal emails- making this a controversial discussion.

I've worked with this particular art director several times before. He is very clear at what he wants and communicates well, so it's a treat to do covers for this paper. He gave me a few ideas, so I did a few thumbnails, to two of which I narrowed it down:

Once he chose the boss popping out of the monitor, I changed and finalized the idea, composition and perspective:

From there, I did the final pencil, taking a bit more time to make the final composition. I used some reference from the Facial Expressions book by Mark Simon- a great face and expression reference. This was mostly for fun details and lighting reference:

Once the pencil was approved, I scanned the page and colorized it in Photoshop [image/adustments/hue-saturation/'colorize' option] then printed the sketch in a very saturated cyan, matching the C of CMYK in the photoshop channels, so I can hide it later. From there, I used the cyan sketch as a guide to ink it with a ZEBRA brush pen that I received from a friend in Japan, as it has a great tip for detail and very black, waterproof ink:

I scanned the inked sketch once finished and then hid the Cyan channel in Photoshop, copied, selected the LAYERS tab and pasted the image, removing the pencil sketch print, leaving just the ink. I then cleaned up the image, removing any stray marks or inconsistencies.

From there, the ink layer is put on top and changed to MULTIPLY mode, making the whites transparent. I create more layers underneath it and simply begin painting with a preset brush in Photoshop, starting with basic, low-saturation local colors:

From there, I start using a bit of reference and making up shading and lighting for the environment, adding to another layer more and more as I go. Most of this is done on one layer, once I'm satisfied with the color choices, making it feel like I'm doing one painting on one surface:

After that, a few details and extras are added on more layers, keeping them alive for changes later just in case I need it. Once I'm satisfied with the piece, I'll play with the levels, saturation and hue and crop it with 1/4" bleed, giving a bit of room for it to be moved around at the art director's discretion. This helps when he may need to accomodate certain text or graphics... and that's it!

Happy Easter!


Piotr said...

awesome process joe! this is a great cover:P

Nelson Santos said...

Yes the expressions are very good Joe.

Unknown said...

cool stuff man!

Lar said...

Always awesome to 'watch' you work, Joe.

Do you use masks at all? Loading the line art into a mask (alpha channel) is a terrific option if you ever need to colour your lines and a terrific option to the Multiply layer.


scribblemonkey said...

I love seeing the process of this. Those zebra pens are frikkin' cool.

also, that keyboard is really nice. It's hard to draw a good keyboard.