Saturday, 13 April 2013

Spoilt Princess (and a bit of a process post)

Well, this one was a bit of a slog. Hot off the heels of last week's 70s bedroom, I wanted to play with light some more. However, this style is beginning to show signs of over-use and it's becoming a little automatic (which is great for when I have client work. Creatively on the other hand, it's time to mix it up a little).

Anyway I thought I'd show some of the process here. I plan on doing a complete 'my process' post in the near future for my site. This is not that (because my screenshots aren't in-depth enough). It is however, a more constructive view of my illustration than what you're used to seeing on here.

1) I sketch it out. I'm terrible at keeping a sketch book so no practice makes me far less than perfect. This stage tends to be repeated up to 10 times until the final drawing is produced.

2) I do a quick colour test.

3) I then add the final lick of paint over the whole thing (this is the bit that will be covered better in my full process post). Basically, I start with block colours, then add shade and highlights, finally I use some gradients to deepen particular areas (seen in the next step). Throughout this process I had some placeholder lighting to help with composition (taken straight from the earlier colour test).

4) I add the proper lighting. I've always been obsessed with lighting, here's a direct quote: "Bad lighting can ruin a good drawing, and in my case, vice versa." - Kristian Duffy, 1608

(This screenshot was taken in reverse so it's not an exact pinpoint in the process. It is however, an estimate of the illustration pre-adjustment layers.)

5) I overlay the whole thing with various Photoshop adjustment layers. These things can completely change the mood of an image and I rely (sometimes a bit too heavily) on them to tweak the mood of my illustrations. Up until about 3 years ago, I would never do this for fear of 'cheating'. Then of course, I realised it's called making use of your tools- do photographers cheat when they change the exposure on their cameras?

I'll also go further into these in my full process post, they're magical life savers!

6) Finally I uploaded this particular piece to twitter (@UndercoverCroc) asking for critique. A couple of fine folk gave me some handy tips so I went back and made tweaks to: The lighting, adjustment layers and colours. *Edit* a few days on I decided the cropping was a bit off so I extended the image a touch (see the first bigger pic at the top of this post)

That's it, I hope you all enjoyed my slightly more analytical post. I'm trying mum, I'm trying! More to come in the future so watch this space.


  1. I really enjoy your compositions. I like the vantage point of this particular illustration. I'm also envious of your digital skills. I'm completely clueless when it comes to photoshop and the like. Great job - I look forward to seeing more :)

    1. Thanks for the kind words Sean. I've had some great feedback on this process post (a lot of it from yourself!) so it's to become the norm from now on.

    2. I really love this - the face she's giving me says "SHAN'T". It's interesting to see how much the mood changes when you tweak the adjustment layers - I think the dark pink ended up working really well.
      I too have a love affair with light - I try and include a direct source in a dramatic fashion whenever I can. I'm not sure how well I pull it off but it adds a lot of interest to my art even if it's just me it keeps interested!