So for today, I’ll be going through the basic process of how I go about doing my illustrations. Seeing other artist’s processes always interests me and I usually find little tips that influence my own work so I hope that any of this will help you out.
Today I have a cover I did of Pinocchio and since this is a well known story, the first thing I did was go ahead and reread the book . When dealing with existing stories I find it really helpful to do my research before I start sketching out ideas being how the better you know your subject, the more concepts you can pull from. Next I go into doing a page or two of very rough drawings (that usually only I can make out) in order get everything that is going through my head out on paper. From these scribbles I pick about three or four that work best for the piece and do some slightly cleaner roughs for them like the ones below.
In this case the first rough with Pinocchio on the workbench was the favorite, but the other doll heads were confusing and I needed to zoom in just a little more so that Pinocchio is more of the focus. Also I wanted to add in some very subtle details of what goes on within the story with what is pictured on the shelfs. So I took the critiques and went along to my next step of doing a more finished pencil drawing with the changes. I added wood carvings of the fox and the blind cat to represent the characters and a varnish bottle entitled “hangman’s varnish” to represent what they did to Pinocchio.
At this stage I scan in the pencil drawing and I usually do a couple quick colored versions in Photoshop just to play around with what options I have, but since I already had a specific color palette in mind I went straight into Illustrator. In Illustrator I start up a new document of the appropriate size and place the pencil drawing on it’s own layer. I knock down the opacity to around 30-40% depending on how strong the lines are so it doesn’t get confused with what I’m doing in Illustrator and I start blocking in the shapes in greyscale. The reasoning for starting in greyscale is so that I can just focus on getting the shapes and lines exactly how I want them to be without worrying about color. It’s also easier to add color later on being how I have the values completely worked out.
From here all that’s left is to make some corrections, add the colors, and the finishing touches. I added the spotlight on Pinocchio in order to push back some of the items on the shelf and make sure that he is the main focus of the cover and I redid the books with more detail being how they seemed a little too cartoony to me. Lastly, I found a font that worked well with the illustration and added in the title and author credit.