Promised process post!
Trailblazer went through a lot of changes, ultimately all of them for the better. I gathered up all the process pieces I have (which is hard to remember to do when working under a non-disclosure agreement, mainly because I can’t share them with anyone), because I am on a mission to keep talking about process whenever I can. Mostly because it’s fun to do, and no one can stop me from writing small novels about it. Mu hu hu.
Lately I have been utilizing pinterest boards to collect my inspiration and reference all in one easy place. Before, I would throw it all into a folder on my desktop and work from that. Now, having a fancy wizard phone and often working from places away from my desktop, I needed a way to access this folder remotely, yet keep it private because NDAs were involved. I tried dropbox and google drive, but both of their apps were clunky and not suited for viewing files in a slideshow format, which I needed to click around quickly between images. So pinterest it was!
I made my board for this piece public on pinterest now, so check it out, if you’re into that sort of thing!
You’ll probably notice that my board goes from reference images from the source material into completely unrelated illustrations by various artists. Around there, I started thinking of how I wanted this poster to look, what concepts I wanted to work with, and how I wanted these concepts to feel, so I began looking up and into artists that did these things. A lesson I learned long ago at the Illustration Academy: if you want to illustrate something, there’s at least five other illustrators who have already illustrated that thing and done so brilliantly, so go learn from them.
I also learned a very important lesson about sketches with this project, especially when proposing ideas to clients: they’ll get back to you a lot faster and be more assertive in their choices when your sketches are not vague, scribbly thumbnails. The first image is what I originally proposed; the second is what the idea evolved into, at the urging of my excellent art director, Marc Scheff.
Plus, cleaning up my concept like this made my work so much easier on my behalf. Everything in the image was depicted; my tonal balance was more or less figured out. It was fifty times easier to go to final with this sketch, as opposed to going to final from the scribbly thumbnails. The point is: don’t be lazy with your concepts.
I originally imagined the negative space in the composition around our lone hero as an extension of the Shishkebab’s flame. All jagged shapes and whatnot. Heavily leaning on the Mignola influence. Now, I realize how unclear that shape was and was yet again thankful for aforementioned excellent art director, because it was Marc’s suggestion to make that space look like smoke. (Why I never thought of that myself, I don’t know. Too obvious, I guess??)
Anyway, one simple suggestion changed this illustration—and changed it for me—entirely. I went from being simply okay with the composition to absolutely falling in love with it. Which is why critique is so valuable to me, and why I try to involve as many other minds in my creative process when I can. Also, a good art director is priceless.
Also: bonus image!
Color scheme that I never submitted, for good reason; it was too muddy, was too harsh in contrast, and the vibrant yet dark colors would have been difficult to reproduce accurately as a screenprint. It did have a darker, apocalyptic feel going for it, but I ultimately went with the final red-orange color scheme!