Happy Friday everyone! Today I wanted to share a new illustration that I did for Minted last week, along with the process behind it. I often get asked about my drawing process, so this post is a long time coming. I’ll do my best to break it down, but if you have any questions, please feel free to email me. I’m happy to share my secrets (p.s. they’re not at all secret).
So the first thing I always start with is a sketch. It doesn’t matter if I’m hand inking the drawing (as in this particular piece) or drawing straight into Photoshop or Illustrator, I feel most comfortable with a pencil and paper and feel that it helps me get my ideas out in a way that is much less restrictive than if I draw straight from my crazy brain into the computer. This piece was designed for Minted.com, for a children’s art challenge. My goal was to create a piece that was fun and illustrative that kids would enjoy looking at in their room, but could be personalized as a gift for new parents, as well.
I like to start with a small thumbnail sketch (or sketches), trying to think out the initial composition. You will see here that all I knew at this point was that I wanted some animals and instruments. I wanted the animals to all come from the same region of the world so it didn’t seem haphazard, so I went with Africa. I made a list off to the left of my sketch of a bunch of animals that seemed like they might work in this piece. I didn’t end up using all of them, but it’s a good reference to be able to come back to if you get stuck later. I also made a list of instruments commonly found in a marching band. I would have loved to have had the lion playing the banjo, but for consistency, I took it out, as banjo’s aren’t found in marching bands.
Next, I laid out rough sketches of the animals in approximate body positions with the instruments I wanted them to be playing. I also started to think about putting them in band uniforms here. You’ll see the instruments and uniforms change throughout the process.
After rough sketching, I like to take a first pass at inking. I use tracing paper and micron pens for this task. I used a Micron .005 here.
I wanted to show the evolution of some of the animals here. I first had an antelope where the zebra was, but I felt like I needed a visually heavier animal here, so I drew a zebra instead. I felt like the stripes of the zebra lent a better visual weight in that space.
I thought about incorporating a honey badger, but he didn’t have quite the character of meerkat, so he was nixed. Hedgehog swapped out a harmonica for a simplified take on a bugle. I also started thinking about how to add personalized elements. Hedgehog got a hat and banner for this purpose.
Once I got all the animals worked out with their approximate personalized elements and locations, I overlayed the entire piece with a fresh sheet of trace paper. I inked the entire piece all together at this point and scanned it into the computer. A little cleanup in Photoshop using Levels and the eraser tool and it looked pretty good to me. Time to bring it into Illustrator for color and text.
In Illustrator, I began by coloring the band uniforms using the pen tool. I chose a pink fill color for now. I also added some vector music notes.
As I colored, I made groups of all the same elements: band uniforms, sheet music, banners, cheeks, and birds. This makes it easy to select everything in one color group later on. Alternatively, you can click on the element you want to change color and then Select>Same to select everything with the same fill, stroke, or both. It’s pretty handy.
Once I had everything pathed where I wanted color, I added in the personalized text. I used the type on a path tool for some of the curved text elements.
Now, Minted always wants 2-3 colorways for their artwork, so I went ahead and created some different color groups. I made sure to group all the color elements together and then simply copied that group twice, right on top of itself. I turned off the two new groups to focus on the colors for this first colorway. I knew I liked the fuscia, so that’s where I started. Here’s a handy tool in Illustrator for quickly looking at different color combinations: in your panels, you’ll find a little tool called “Color Guide”. With your base color selected, click on the color guide.
This tool gives you a palette of colors based on your selected color. You have shades to the left and tints to the right. Now, these colors were a little boring for me, so within this Color Guide tool, there is another one located at the bottom of the palette. It looks like a color wheel and is a tool to edit or apply colors. Click it.
Within this command, you can look at lots of different color combinations very quickly. The drop down box at the top shows you different color combinations on the color wheel.
If you click on the edit tab within this tool, you can check out all the colors in that color group. You can view the color wheel three different ways and recolor your art quickly based on the new base color you choose. For example, I am looking at the color wheel in a segmented view here. I’ve moved the primary color over to the yellow area and chosen “Tetrad 2″ under the Harmony Rules tab. When I check the “recolor art” box at the bottom left, BOOM! Color palette changed. The possibilities are endless. You can also save interesting color palettes so you can apply them later.
I wanted to share this trick in case some of you hadn’t played with it before. Not only is is a neat way to see lots of different color combos, it’s a huge time saver. Bonus.
The final three color schemes I came up with are below:
Now, all I have to do is turn my text back on and the piece is finished!
Did you guys like this post? Would you be interested in seeing more process posts? If so (or if not), let me know! Hollar back on Twitter @InklingPaper or in the comments below!