Fifty Faces

I always have two or three projects on the back burner that I dip in and out of between paid assignments. Fifty faces is one of them. Essentially the idea here is just to have fun - no concepts, no point to get across or text to interpret, just fifty different faces. This is the pencil stage, ringing the changes with each one and avoiding repetition as far as possible. Then working them up, A4 size, in different ways - acrylic, pen and ink etc. Working quickly to avoid getting bogged down or bored.


Fifty Faces 01

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Blue Collage

Continuing to make use of remaindered drawings and sketches that would otherwise lie dormant. More to follow!

Blue Collage

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Yellow Collage

Working as an illustrator one of the key parts of the job, if not THE key part of the job, involves drawing in some form or another. Whether that involves simple layout designs, detailed character drawings or loose concept sketches.

Generally speaking the drawing/rough stage is considered preparatory work which leads to a final image. Time was when at the end of a job I'd routinely clear the desk and trash all the bits and pieces of clutter that had preceded the artwork and then move on to the next thing. I've found in recent years though that I've started to keep more and more of this 'process' material and stored it in folders or sleeves. Occasionally I might review this stuff and although much of it feels crude and unformed there is sometimes an indefinable quality which is lost when it has been redrawn, re-worked and refined.

Recently I thought be might be fun to create a new image using some of this raw material so put together a selection of completely unrelated sketches.



Apart from a little re-jigging this is the finished version, in Photoshop, with each of the elements on it's own layer. Wherever possible I've avoided cleaning things up or doing any re-working as that would somehow defeat the object of the exercise. Having said that I have removed some outlines to help unify the whole thing. Click here see the finished piece.



This is the start of sifting through recent sketches. As I usually work on tracing paper I've got loads of little scraps, some done in pencil, inks or brush pen.



Here's most of the finished selection prior to scanning into the computer for compositing and colouring.

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Abstract: Resting

Sometimes it's good to move away from familiar working patterns - to take a sideways step and see what happens. So for this image I had something loosely figurative in mind but rather than focus on anything too representational I just let the lines flow and be suggestive. Similarly I wanted to knock the colour right back, to be calm rather than anything too lively.



Here's how the pencil sketch developed. It was only when I got to the fourth version that I could see how the 'legs' area might work with the rest. At that point I moved I moved into artwork mode and painted in the accompanying background shapes being careful to echo the feel and flow of the lines.



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Personal Work

For the majority of commissioned works clients are usually after something similar to what they have seen before. Whether that be a particular style or technique or perhaps a certain approach that can be applied to their current project. A rough is usually provided as a guide to content and layout and that, together with the artists portfolio, provides a pretty clear idea to what the end result will be. This is something we understand as illustrators and indeed something we have been taught from day one, to develop a recognisable signature style.

I do like working in black and white. There is something very direct in the absence of colour, it allows you to focus more clearly on shape, tone and texture. These days black and white work is very rarely commissioned commercially unless for a special purpose.


However from the artists perspective too formulaic an approach can spell creative death over the longer term if not careful. Tastes in illustration are also subject to change and what was popular one year may not be so the next so it is important to keep moving forward. Personal work therefore is essential for extending boundaries and exploring new terrain. One way or another the results feed back into professional work, often in the most unexpected ways, and this helps to keep things fresh and interesting.

 

These were a conscious attempt to move away from techniques most used in my commercial work, specifically the avoidance of gradations of tone and the effects of light and shade. Instead using simple line and blocks of related colour to define shape.

Continuing with the same approach but limiting the palette choices. The lines were first drawn on paper (often derived from doodles) and colour shapes were then overlaid.

All the examples on this page are images I make when not working on commissioned pieces. Even though I try to avoid formulas as much as possible, I do like to create small series or groups. I've recently started making large prints of some of these images which I'm selling via my Shop and perhaps at selected print fairs next year.

These are probably closest to my usual working practice but for this type of subject matter I prefer to use more monochromatic colour schemes. I like to take photographs and weave in various drawn elements and textures to create images that fall somewhere between photography and illustration but not overtly one or the other.



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