♬ 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.
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.
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!
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...
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.
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!
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:
Thanks for reading. Don't forget to like and subscribe for more updates.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!