Process: Pierced

It's the month of love. I hope you're all eating your fill of chocolates, spending time with your loved ones, and preparing for what I consider to be one of the most heinous holidays of the year: Valentine's Day.

Every year illustrators feel obligated to work on a piece that relates to Valentine's Day. But as many of us know, the holiday isn't all roses. In the right light, Cupid, the icon of this holiday, can be viewed as a sinister god who makes it his mission to complicate the lives of unsuspecting people.

The character in this illustration is one of his many victims. Watch its time-lapse video on my YouTube channel, or continue reading for a step-by-step overview.

 Sketch

Sketch

The roman god of love is a force to be reckoned with. With one cleverly placed arrow, he can inspire or dismantle war. And he strikes anywhere, anytime, any place!

In this case, a warrior is stricken with love for an enemy that she meets on the battlefield. She fears that giving in to her desire will jeopardize the victory of her comrades. Rather than failing them by forsaking her duty, she resolves the problem in the most honorable way she can...

 Base of color

Base of color

I wanted to experiment with color for this piece. How far could I take the range of hue? How many colors could be used together harmoniously? The answer was as many as I was willing to try. It's a new year. I was feeling the rainbow.

Also, I thought it would be interesting to give this piece colors that contradicted its own morbidity. Love is pretty. Love is colorful. Even when the one afflicted is unaware of how it is changing them.

 Developing a floor pattern

Developing a floor pattern

This piece wanted much more than just the drawing. Actually, it wanted so much that I liken it to a toddler throwing a tantrum. Floor tiles? Sure. Sword design? OK. Mosaic pattern? Fine!

 Fleshing out detail

Fleshing out detail

It still needed something to increase the sense of depth. Since this was a personal piece, I had the freedom to add something at the bottom where there might have otherwise been a book cover title or other publishing element.

Then I looked at that little bird on the sword and thought, "Hm, maybe he needs a few friends."

 Birds!

Birds!

And there you have it! Make sure to watch the time-lapse video to get a better sense of the work's progression. Here is a process GIF:

 Process

Process

Thanks for reading. Happy Valentine's Day!

Process: A Delayed Christmas

♬ Christmas time is here. ~ Happiness and – cacti? ♬

This piece grew from a project that I did for an old client. It was a lot of fun and needed to be revisited for the holiday season.

See a video of the piece from start to finish on my YouTube channel, or read ahead for each step.

 Thumbnail

Thumbnail

The old version of this piece informed the new. The original concept was that Santa and Rudolph broke down in the desert, and they needed to pull out their map to figure out where to go next. I ran with the idea, incorporating elements that didn't make it into in the original illustration.

 Sketch

Sketch

Line weight, space, and all the fun detail happened at this step. I could probably draw forever. But this sleigh needs to get back in the sky!

 Value

Value

I went light-handed on the value at first because of the setting. Usually when people think of a desert, they see sand underneath a scorching summer sun. There probably wouldn't be many dark shadows in this lighting situation except underneath the objects...

 Color

Color

In my mind, a desert is mostly yellow, so keeping festive reds and greens represented throughout got kind of tricky. Greens that grow from the ground are going to be different from greens in clothing, yellows will be different from golds, and so on. And I have to say that although I like the look of vintage illustration, this piece wasn't supposed to go in that direction. What could be altered?

Then it hit me. Why would Old Sant Nick be flying in the middle of the day? Surely he gets all his work done in one night.

 Color shift

Color shift

Thus, the piece took a dramatic turn. I went back into the drawing to give one of the elves a lamp, a red glow to Rudolph's nose, and tightened up the value range. At this stage I'm not afraid to go back and forth between the different layers to make all the big changes look seamless. Sorry I couldn't show you the drawing before these changes occurred, but the video covers it! 

 Final

Final

Many layers of tweaks later, and here is the final result. This piece has been featured as December's banner in the Philadelphia Sketch Club's Portfolio Newsletter. See a step-by-step of the piece as a GIF:

Lockamy_Christmas Process

Thanks for reading. Don't forget to like and subscribe for more updates.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Process: Poseidon's Daughter

It might be getting colder here in the Garden State, but I'm more of a summer person. I'll be more festive after this piece!

Growing up in New Jersey, I have never been far from the coast. Some of my best childhood memories are from trips to the beach and boardwalk. Many people might think of Snooki when they think of Jersey's beaches, but for me, the ocean has always been more of a mystical place. It is a great source of inspiration. Poseidon's Daughter is a piece that stems from these coastal roots.

The narrative:

Poseidon's daughter has magic, but it's not as fun as you might think. Helping her father maintain the delicate balance of the ocean is lonely work. One day, she meets a young photographer who reminds her how to have fun. Despite being from two different worlds, they discover a kindred spirit in each other.

 Thumbnail   

Thumbnail

 

This piece started out really loose. I had a specific color palette in mind, so it was important to use it to full advantage with the right composition.

 Sketch

Sketch

The drawing is my favorite step! Everything done at this stage has immediate results, and changes can be made quickly. Adding in those swirls and curls is fun, too.

 Value

Value

At this stage, the priority was to make sure the water looked translucent. This meant adding darks in a way that would create the illusion of depth. I was so jazzed to get into color by this point – but value should never be rushed. This is what I think of as the "ink" stage.

 Color

Color

Color! Pinks and oranges, with some sea green tints for added dimension. This feels like a "watercolor" stage, on top of a graphite drawing. The warmest hues are used for emphasis.

 It's nearly there...

It's nearly there...

Details are the finicky part! As things shape up, changes can be made that weren't part of the initial drawing. For example, I gave the young photographer a backpack to carry his things in. But there was still something missing.

 Final

Final

One wave to close off the space, one snazzy pair of glasses, and a few final tweaks later. Thanks for reading! See the GIF below, as well as a time-lapse video of the painting from start to finish.

Poseidon's_Daughter_process.gif