"El Wojtko" illustrations
EL WOJTKO poster 

February 2017 - February 2018    

Back in October 2016, together with a group of friends we traveled to a South America, for a month-long vacations visiting Ecuador and Peru. The trip was amazing and we all had a great time.

Not long after the return, I decided to make a poster depicting our group and the epic journey we partake.
The thing was - my illustration skills have never been well-polished, and so, I decided with this personal project to improve them. Little did i know, sitting down to it in February 2017, when this journey is gonna end.

This poster is my illustration-skills progress well-documented. Each of the characters is a huge improvement on the previous one and you can clearly tell.

This poster is contains also the last twelve months of my life and all that has happened during.
There are three different jobs I had, three months of depression, two lovers, one broken heart, one broken arm, one ripped muscle, one bursted appendinx, one new sport skill and one addiction abandoned. 

Hope You will enjoy. 

Character #1 : WOJTKO 

"El Wojtko" was a nickname that the group has branded me with during the trip, and served an inspiration for the whole poster.
I had a little idea of how i wanted the illustration to look like and even less idea of how to go about it. 
Initially I have been studying favorite behance examples for hours, trying to understand the technique. 
This image, being the first in the series is clearly the worst.
The shading is inconsistent, the hair is incomplete, there are no eyebrows and by looking at the legs one can clearly see i was bored by the end of it.
However, there are elements that turned out quite well. The shorts, the ear, the arm. Since then, I have used this style with success a numerous times in my commercial projects. 

It is worth mentioning, that the image has been created with my left arm broken and in a whole-arm cast. Just sayin'.

Character #2: AGA 

Agnieszka is a wonderful person, one of the most honest and noble I have ever meet.
I was hoping it would make her happy to know, that it was her, with whom i started the main part of the project. 
Bit of shortsighted move on my part, as her image, however good, is still underdeveloped.

The shading in this one is still very rough as I didn't have enough control over the spikes at that point. The whole image has a very stencil-like overall style.
The eyes are too dark, the mouth too dense and the hair is just a mess, but i can still remember the excitement, when    
I looked at the first draft. 
Finally, I was getting into the style i intended and the illustration clearly resembled the person i wanted to.
Back in the early drafts, the shadow layers had way higher opacity, and it made my friend look like her own grandmother. I was pleased with the nostrils and the ears. 
The hair was a nightmare, as I was still trying to "solve them" with large patches of shading shapes.   

Character #3: GRUBY 

Adam Klosin PhD is a world-class geneticist who has worked in a numerous prestigious research institutes in Europe, changing field of genetics as we know it. 
Just as his works, his portrait was a breakthrough. 
I have finally felt in total control of shapes and shading spikes with this one. The shapes were large and still kinda rough around the edges, but bended with each other almost perfectly. 
The mouth and the nose were especially satysfying as I introduced a higher contract as an experiment and the payoff was great. 
Another suprisigly satisfying moment was the beard. Adam usually wears a very light beard and so is his facial hair. There was no point in creating each hair individually, so a half transparent overlay seemed like a good idea. Turns out it was.
But the real breakthrough was the hair. I started playing with various, swirly shapes. It seemed hopeless at first, but then i started squezzing them into one another, creating a surreal jigsaw. 
Although the hair in this portrait are far from perfect, I was honestly proud of myself once the illustration was done. 

Character #4: BRZEŹIN

After all this time, it is still weird looking at this depiction of my friend Michał Brzeźiński. 
I don't really know why I have chosen him to be "the bad guy" of the poster, as he is one of the nicest and calmest man    I have ever met. Full of scholar-like wisdom, he is an empodient of reason and patience and in reality looks very little like this goblin-faced version I have created. 

It took a long time to create this one, but i belive it was time well spent. At that point I have mastered control over the shade layers - the shadows looks smooth and almost natural. 
Addig highlight layers to the comoposition created amazing glowning effect on the skin and allowed for creatig nice wrinkles. Further improvment on the hair technique made them silky smooth and pleasing on the eye. 

Looking back, the elements that would require further development is undeniable the teeth and the eyes. The former being just aweful and the later too dark.

Character #5: GRACHA 

There are tons of things I could tell about Grażyna and/or our adventures together. 'nough say, I'd follow her into a bloody fire and back. I can't say for sure, but I think she didn't really like my depiction of her. 

This one took all the experiance I have obtained creating previous ones with a lots of improvments. 
The shading is subtle and smooth. Unless zoomed, it's easy to froget it is a vector image. 
Shadows and highlights create nice balance, exposing nose and forehead. The eyes are deep, blue and shine like precious stones. 

The hair was a whole other story. I knew how to make short hair well, but the long ones proved way more difficult. At first I tried the swirly jigsaw style, but it soon proved shallow and ineffective, so i introduced layers after alyers of vector lines.
Once I realized that was the right way, I made oll the rest of the hair like that. Once done,   I had to go back and remake the initialy created hair, as  they simply did not fit with the rest. 

The poster 

Mix of indiana Jones and Inglorious Basterds and all sorts of inspirations.
The result of a year long project, it has exceeded my expectations. 
Although characters differ in style, they, to my utter surprise, fit together quite well.

Alternative versions: 

"El Wojtko" illustrations

"El Wojtko" illustrations