Thursday, June 26, 2014

Anniversary Illustration

Eva and Shadow
     For an anniversary present for his wife, my friend commissioned me to illustrate a picture of his wife and their recently deceased kitty.  For reference he sent me a phone cam pic he just happened to catch when the moment happened.
     I opened the jpg in Adobe Photoshop, and YIKES!  Very small and pixelated! (He warned me of the pic quality ahead of time).  Pretty much a small, dark, fuzzy 72 ppi jpg.  I forget the original dimensions, but my friend had asked for an 8.5" x 11" illustration.  Using Photoshop's Image Size functions (Alt-Ctrl-i) I increased the dimensions as far as I could without losing too much detail so I could work on top of the photo.  I could only increase it to about 8" x 10".
     Since I would print the final result, I set the Image Mode to CMYK (Alt-i-m-c).
     Dark rooms and phone cam pics without a flash don't mix, and so the photo had muddy colors and hard-to-see detailsAdding new Adjustment Layers (Alt-l-a) I adjusted the Levels and Hue/Saturation until I had a brighter, clearer photo.
     I created four layers:
--a background layer which I filled with white (Alt-Delete fills the layer with the foreground color, Ctrl-Delete  fills the layer with the background color),
--the photo layer,
--a color layer I would use to paint under the inks,
--and the inks layer.
     The inks layer: switching between my Wacom Intuos 4 and the mouse, I went for a kind of pen and ink graphic design stylization that kind of comes naturally to me, .  Using lines, dots, simplified shapes, and some Franklin Booth-inspired hatching, I drew over the photo.  I made some of the contours more geometric, and worked to capture the essence of the details with minimal shapes and strokes.  With the white background layer I could make the photo layer invisible (clicking the eye graphic next to the photo layer in the Layer Window) to see just the ink layer and check my work.

Inks Layer
     Painting in the color layer underneath the inks layer, I used the Eyedropper tool to pick colors from the photo layer.  I continued rendering with geometric shapes.  I kept the curtains, pillow, and shirt colors flat to keep the focus on the cat and woman's face.
 Color Layer

     I printed the illustration at the local Fedex/Kinko's and sent it off so it would get to my friend in time for their anniversary.  Afterward they both told me they like it and will get it framed and hung as soon as possible. :)
Adobe Photoshop CS2

House Sparrow

     I captured a rather handsome house sparrow with my trusty dusty Canon Rebel XTi.  Opening the photo in Adobe Illustrator I originally aimed for a much more simplistic, cartoony bird to match other bird illustrations I've done...
...however, this illustration grew into a contemporary retro piece.
     Sticking with simple shapes (circles, squares, lines, triangles) I decided to stay faithful to my feathered fellow's anatomy while rendering with minimal descriptionGeometric, but finessed, and daintily detailed just enough to make my sparrow recognizable and interesting. :)
Adobe Illustrator CS2