It seems like whenever I talk with other artist’s, one of the first questions they ask is “How do you work?” Most of the artist’s that I know start out with sketches, but I have to be honest, I don’t do a lot of sketching. Sketching wasn’t a requirement for our projects in art school, so I never got into the habit of creating them.
I just finished up this great holiday piece, so I thought I would share with you all how I actually DO WORK.
1. THE IDEA
My first step is the idea stage. I quickly jot down my ideas in a written list form and then I go for the one I think would be the most fun. For this piece, my idea was Santa delivering packages, but I didn’t want to go with the traditional sleigh. My husband LOVES vintage Volkswagen Vans so I went that route.
2 & 3. THE QUICK SKETCH
I guess I do sketch — just not in the traditional sense. I like to do a quick sketch of the stars of my piece. For this piece, I did my quick sketch of SANTA & the VAN to see how things might go. If I can’t come up with a quick sketch that I like, then I scrap the idea and move on. Here are my first two idea sketches.
4. OTHER CHARACTERS
Once I have my STARS ready to go, I start working on the supporting characters. For this piece, there are two elves and also a tree/presents. Sometimes I know ahead of time that I am going to add certain characters, such as the elves — they were always the plan. But then I needed to fill an empty van window (tree) and then I knew I would be needing some color on the top of the van (presents).
5. THE BACKGROUND
Once I have my characters mapped out, I start on the background. Starting on the background also allows me to start thinking about my color choices. In this case, Santa had a white beard so I knew that my background was going to need to be AT LEAST a medium shade to knock-out his beard. I was also set on him driving down a snowy road and then decided on the trees as a way to add interest without distracting from my characters.
6. THE DETAILS
I generally work on the base of my characters and the get the background to that same base level before I start working on the details. I also choose colors at this point so that I know which colors I am going to need to work throughout the piece. Details are mostly things like adding shading or patterns. It is generally the details that really spice up a piece.
7. FINISHING UP
Once I have the majority of the details filled in, it is time to start finishing up. Finishing up includes things like checking for supporting details that are overpowering the main characters or changing the shade of the background if it is too light or dark. It could also be adding a little more detail to spots that seem boring
8. CREATING PRODUCTS
Most of my illustrations are created for stock imagery (for designers) or for items to be added in my shop. For this piece I decided to create a poster and also a gift set series. You can see these and all of my other 2012 Holiday Designs in my Etsy Shop!
Hopefully this gives you some idea of how my ideas come together. Do you sketch? If so, does your original sketch generally end up being a big part of your final piece?