Been a while since I’ve done a process post, so here are the steps for a job done two weeks ago for art director Todd Bates at Creative Loafing Tampa. The cover story was a fairly straightforward one: the Republican National Convention is coming to Tampa Bay next year, and the city is already looking ahead to it.
First step: thumbnail sketches. Todd sent me a jpeg of the cover template, and so I did my thumbnails digitally to ensure I was working within the exact confines of their layout. The reverse-L live area created by their logo proved to be tricky to work with, as I wasn’t sure how comfortable the client would be with me partially obscuring it. Todd asked for an elephant lumbering powerfully towards the viewer, and my additional concept was to color the elephant to look like a living version of the RNC logo.
With the concept approved, I gather up photo reference and get to work on a tight drawing that will serve as the foundation for the painting. I like to do my drawings in drafts on tracing paper, lately using Prismacolor pencils. The orange drawing is a loose, rough first pass and the blue drawing is the more finished drawing. This second draft gets scanned at 400 dpi and then I’m ready to work on the digital painting.
Work in progress. Here you can get a glimpse of a typical layers setup for my paintings, which is pretty straightforward. The legs and ear have been rendered, but the rough block-in can be seen on the head and trunk of the elephant.
The final illustration, painted in Adobe Photoshop CS4 and completed in about a day and a half. Thanks again to Todd Bates for a fun gig!