New Work: Y&R Beijing/Penguin Audiobooks Posted on 20 Jun 2014
Normally I despair a little bit when the release date for a project is X months out from when I complete the illustration - I'm in a transitional period and the type of work I'm pursuing is changing so quickly that often when a release date rolls around, a piece that may have been my most relevant work a few months ago no longer quite fits in my portfolio.
THIS IS NOT THAT PIECE. I'm still as excited about this image as I was when I turned it in a few months back; because when you sit down to draw a ceiling like that, you have to either fall in love with it completely or suffer an abrupt descent into madness.
This illustration was created for Y&R Beijing as part of an ad campaign for Penguin Audiobooks; the concept was famous stories (in this case, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland) being captured live in audio by an intrepid penguin mic operator.
As a bonus, I just got the awesome news from Y&R that this ad won a Cannes Gold Lion in the Press category, two Silver Lions in the Outdoor category, and an additional Bronze Lion in the press category.
I used my usual process to create this image - digital color over a tight pencil/powdered graphite drawing. The pencil drawing is larger than I generally work - around 18x24" - to accommodate the level of detail I wanted to include. To save myself some headaches laying out the perspective by hand, I created a mockup of the scene in Google Sketchup to get a handle on the general positions of characters and architectural elements. I then printed out the mockup and built my rough sketch on multiple layers of tracing paper before working up the final pencil drawing over a non-photo blue printout of the rough sketch.
I also designed a banner and some hand-lettered text that didn't make it into the final (shown above on the left - Penguin's final print ad on the right). I wish I'd gotten to see this ad in print or on display (the campaign has, predictably, not made it to Bangor Maine) - so if any of my readers in China happen to spot it in the wild, I'll pay a handsome bounty of art prints to anyone who can send me a snapshot.
Every time you upload something I'm blown away. This is gorgeous, as always, but what really draws me to this piece is the insane amount of detail. (How do you accomplish that without smearing the line art all over the place!?) Also I love that everything works together to make the focus clear, as this is something I have a difficult time accomplishing in my own work.
I've also been meaning to thank you. A little over a year ago you were kind enough to take a look at my work and critique it as well as give me a good deal of your personal insight into becoming an illustrator. Your advice has helped me to grow exponentially and I truly appreciate that you would go out of your way for someone you didn't know.
Thank you for your kindness, it has and continues to mean a great deal to me.
03 Jul 2014 08:42 pm
Great to hear from you again - I just checked out your portfolio and wow, you've come a huge distance in the past year. I've had a few people contact me for portfolio advice in the time I've been freelancing, and for the most part the advice has gone unheeded, so it's really awesome to see someone who has absolutely run with it! The new pieces really are fantastic, and I'm thrilled to have had some small part in the huge jump your work has taken. Keep it up!
My solution to smudging pencil art has been to work with the effect instead of fighting it. I'll use a piece of tissue to smudge my pencil lines as I work (either by rubbing over the entire page, or focusing on small details), which builds a light base tone that you can then erase out of with a kneaded eraser (or build up with mechanical pencil) to render sharper details. Working over this base tone camouflages the little smudges and stray lines that would ruin a cleaner drawing.
As far as building focus in a piece, contrast (between lightest and darkest values) is my primary technique for drawing attention where I want it to go, along with composition (placing elements of your image consciously to frame and/or direct attention towards your focus). These links cover some useful points:
(My blog truncated the links, so you'll want to copy/paste to end up in the right place.)
05 Jul 2014 02:30 pm
Wow, I would have never thought of purposely smudging the lines! Thank you for sharing, I'll definitely have to give that a try in future pieces. And thank you for the links on focus and composition.
You've been very helpful and kind as always, I appreciate it!
07 Jul 2014 10:50 pm