Monday, July 20, 2020

My illustration process - Using photographic reference

One of the things I enjoy about making drawings on location is that the results are your own. No need to search for photos online or look through books for reference images of second-hand impressions. In the past I’ve asked people to model for me when I needed to draw figures or set up still life groups when illustrating food or products. Of course, that isn’t always possible when working on illustration jobs and often I need to look at others photographs for reference.   

As I have never visited Brazil, this series of illustrations for a travel magazine spread of Rio de Janeiro were drawn from a variety of secondary source material. The client sent me some images, I researched some more using Google, looked at a couple of videos and also looked at the location on Google Earth. It is always important for me that I don’t copy other creatives work, as I wouldn’t want mine copied, so that thought is in my mind when I start. I also am trying to create images as I would if I were there, in the actual location, thinking about which elements I would focus on, what shapes, what colours and patterns are important. The idea is always to use the photographs as an aid and not let them dictate the outcome of the illustration.

When creating images for a client I firstly supply a black and white line ‘rough’ to give an idea of what the finished image will look like. Nowadays I try to work directly on these roughs to develop the actual finished illustration so as not to lose any spontaneity that was there in the initial stages.

Here are a couple of the roughs for this series:

At the colour artwork stage, I used a limited colour palette of six colours to help create a cohesive feel to the group of illustrations.

Here are the finished pieces:


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