The purpose of my work is to speak clearly, dramatically, eloquentlyand stylistically. Bringing light, form and texture, both negative andpositive space together, is my goal in developing iconic designs andillustrations. My interest and love of typography is equally importantas the images that I draw upon to bring unity to my graphic message.Whether designing a logo or poster, the type should enhance the lookand feel of the illustration and work in harmony together. Thefoundation of my work is black and white, and once I have achieved agood design, it is then that I am ready to move on to color andtexture.
For this particular assignment, the art director hasrequested a heroic image of the most infamous St. Louis Clydesdalehorse for use in a national ad and point of sale campaign. The onlyguidelines on the assignment other than designing a Clydesdale standingon a mountain was to use type stating “BUDWEISER- Home of the GreatAmerican Lager – Beechwood Aged.” In most cases, art directors allow meto design / layout and choose the type that appears on myillustrations. (On this particular piece of art, the client would liketo use Futura as the font for the type to match their other promotionalmaterials.) There were no sketches or comps provided and the artdirector wanted my perspective on the assignment rather than followinga preconceived comp or sketch.
I generally begin by thinking andconceptualizing my design and composition with a series of quick andsimple rough thumbnail sketches with a fine-point Sharpie marker ontracing or layout paper. I use this in order to be able to scan in thesketch to deliver my idea to the art director for input and comments.After a sketch direction is chosen, I spend the following amount oftime researching or photographing my subject to give it a unique orpersonal view. My background comes from photography, so this comespretty natural for me. If I were illustrating a person or historicallydressed subject, I would normally hire a model and/or rent a costume tophotograph my subject in several different poses, situations orperspectives. In this case, I was fortunate that the Clydesdale stablesare located in my home town of St. Louis where I was allowed tophotograph the horse in the position that I wanted. I enjoy thisprocess and it allows me to study my subject in many different viewsrather than just searching for photos from books and referencematerials. Photography is a major element in creating my work. Most ofthe time I use a single or a two light source to photograph my subjectin order to create drama with lights and darks. When photographing asubject, I consider the point of view also in order to bring drama tomy sketches.
Once I have edited my photos, my drawing andsimplification process begins. Most people when they view my workconsider it to be simple. However, in design, simplifying things can bethe biggest challenge to a nice graphic illustration. As a rule oncetaught to me by my college figure drawing instructor named Bob Lewis,he said, “It’s not always what you put into an illustration thatcounts, what you leave out counts most.” I consider this every time Ido a sketch in order to tell my story quickly andprecisely. Unlike mostillustrators, I spend the majority of my time on the front end of theproject in designing and working out the solution. This simplifiesfinishing the piece in the end. If the image isn’t worked out in thebeginning, it will not work in the finish
or at the end of the project.
Ithen spend many hours simplifying and refining my sketches andfinishing my drawings with the same black fine-point Sharpie markerthat I used in my earlier rough sketches. I’m always looking for bothlights and darks to use in my images. The negative space is veryimportant to my work as well as the positive spaces.
The nextstep comes in scanning my finished drawings into the computer in AdobePhotoshop and saving the scanned file as a .tif file. I then use anauto-trace function in a software named Adobe Streamline. Streamlineworks very well in coping my work precisely and accurately and I savethe traced file as an Adobe Illustrator .eps file. This allows me tobring the file into Adobe Illustrator where I can adjust size, resize,or color the artwork in unlimited color schemes and variations. Igenerally send the art director two or three color variations to choosefrom for the finish art. Adobe Illustrator makes this process verysimple. Once the art director is pleased with the art or has any colorchanges, Adobe Illustrator allows me to make these changes quickly andaccurately.
The finished artwork is saved and delivered to the art director as an Adobe Illustrator .eps file.
Dependingon the look and feel of the art, some art directors choose to use theflat color technique as the finish art. In this sample of the AnheuserBusch Clydesdale, the art director has chosen up front to make the artlook and feel vintage and rugged for the finish. He has requested thatthe final texture have a wooden or ridge-like feel.
The nextprocess to a textured piece of finish art is to bring the line artfinish .eps file into Adobe Photoshop. At this step, I would either usetextures, hand made papers, wall paper textures, outdoor textures,fabric or handmade painted textures to add to the line work. Withlayering and filtering, I work back and forth to create the look andfeel of the texture I desire to work with in the line work. The colorsand textures are controlled on several separate layers in case thereare any color changes or adjustments. The finish or final art as atextured piece is delivered as an Adobe Photoshop .tif file. As you cansee, the steps taken to change the flat color line art to the texturedlook and feel, change the art dramatically from a contemporary feel, toa whole different and earthy dimension just by adding texture andcolor.