In 2014, I had the good fortune to work with Andreas Bovens at Opera on a custom illustration which users could set as their theme background. Aside from Opera being an absolute pleasure to work with, I enjoyed free reign as far as what the illustration entailed, so long as it was an outdoor theme. Free reign on an outdoor illustration for a great client? Yes please!
 
I started off doing small thumbnail sketches on paper which helped me generate ideas without committing to one too early.  Once I had a hefty number of sketches, I selected the 3 I was most excited about and created digital sketches in Photoshop based off the thumbnails.
I've tried to make a habit of only sending sketches I'm looking forward to working on as final illustrations because I never know which sketch will resonate with my clients and best serve their needs. Usually the more excited I am to finish the illustration, the more I'll enjoy the process and the better the end result will be.
 
I was very pleased to hear the Opera team enjoyed the sketches and selected sketch number 2. Sketch 2 presented an opportunity for me to push more into stylization since the primary visual element would be rocks and water falls. I really wanted to create a sweeping landscape which would hopefully work to create a breathtaking scene. I could feel what I wanted it to look like, so with that, I set off to produce a black and white version first.
I'm a big believe in working in black and white first because it helps me keep my values, shapes, and brush strokes under control. I'm very singular in my focus so this gives me the opportunity to address one element at a time. Any more than that, and I can get too confused to work at the quick pace I'm accustomed to and enjoy.
 
With the black and white version in place, it was time to move onto color. I get a lot of questions about how I transition from black and white to color. The secret? Layers, layers, layers. I basically replace every color you see with a color value I find pleasing. This isn't always a 1 to 1 process - often my values shift as I move to color but the process still works well for me as I transition from black and white to the final. Its not a very glamorous process and like anything else, it just takes time.
 
I presented 2 color options for this one:
The color version went over great and I was well pleased with the results. This piece became one of my favorites of 2014 because it served the client's needs well and I ended up painting a place I wish I could visit.
 
My heartfelt thanks to the Andreas Bovens and the team at Opera as well as my wonderful agent, Deborah Wolfe. 2014 was a year I'll never forget because it was filled with peaks and valleys - much like the ones painted here!
 
Hope you enjoy what you see and are inspired to go forth and conquer!