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How an Illustration is Born

I like to see the growth of an idea. I am more interested in process than anything else.
And so, here's a process post!

When I am going to illustrate something, I really really like to read it first, take notes, and see what jumps out at me, whether it's the main ideas or something that hits me, image-wise. These are my notes.


I try to stress to my students [so much! in vain!] that your first idea is very rarely your best. And that brainstorming is your friend! This whole notion is not even my first idea... the first sketch wasn't even worth putting here. So this idea incorporates money and a vintage shampoo ad.

Here I am trying to flesh out the ad idea, and the color scheme. I showed it to my boyf and he voted against the shampoo pile squeezed out, stating its strong resemblance to another "pile". But he at least thought the main idea communicated well. That's something else I try to stress-- always show your work to someone! A little critique never hurt anyone. And it's way better than spending all of this time on a drawing that well, makes NO sense [unless, of course, your goal is NOT to communicate an idea].

This is the line art I finally came down to... There were at least 3 pencil sketches in the middle here, changing the placement of the text, the little woman, and the thickness of some of the lines.

This is with some Photoshopping. Back to my original green color scheme, and with some outlines, as well as shades of green to give it some value.

This illo is for an article [not yet published] on a fantastic online magazine with some very cool information. This article is well worth the read.

Interested in illustration? And learning what an illustration is? 
This article (part 1) and  (part 2) and (part 3) from Natalie at Design Informer has a nice in-depth break down, complete with great visuals and examples.

another overview of an illustrator's process, at Charlene Chua's site. Actually, take a look: Ms. Chua's entire blog is a fantastic look at an illustrator's process.

And, what Wikipedia has to say.



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