Tuesday, August 9, 2016



Here, at long last, is my most recent poster illustration. I've been working on it for what seems like eons. You'll see why in a minute.

The genesis of the illustration's subject (an old diver and an ornate Art Deco background), came from a few things: my love of old diving helmets and gear, a fascination with shipwrecks, a mild obsession with Art Deco style, and a love of the video game franchise "Bioshock".

And this is what emerged.

Here's the sketch:

So...remember when I said it felt like it took ages to draw?  Could have had something to do with the level of detail. I'm a huge fan of detail. To me, it's a massive component of what makes an illustration worthwhile (both to draw and to look at). It helps to flesh out a world. Helps to give it gravity and make it more believable. And it makes it fun to draw. Or at least, it has the potential to do those things.

The design on both the diver and the background were pretty time-intensive. I went through several versions of both and hundreds of reference images.

Here's the outline:

I'm still including the sketch lines in the final illustrations to try to give them more life, energy, and character. I used to outline my illustrations and then erase the sketch lines, but I think it made them look too clean. Even with the sketch lines included, it's interesting how much the outline clarifies the drawing. Even with all the detail, the outline was easily the fastest part of this illustration. Possibly because it required the least amount of thought. Thinking always slows me down. Stupid thinking.

Here's the final, colored and shaded:

In addition to being a fun excuse to draw old timey diving stuff, Art Deco style decor, and pay homage to Bioshock, this illustration was also very much about textures and surfaces. Rust, barnacles, corrosion, tarnished metal, broken glass, slime, etc. So, on top of drawing all that detail, pretty much every level of said detail needed extensive surface treatment. Mostly in the form of a TON of shading.

You might have noticed I left out a few things from the sketch and outline, like the little octopus outside. Originally, there were also going to be rocks, another giant gear, and buildings outside the porthole. But, amazingly enough, I decided it looked too busy. I also originally had more text below the porthole. It was something like, "Brought to you by Dr. So and So's indestructible porthole gaskets", because I can't really take anything too seriously. And this seems like a pretty serious drawing tonally. But with the diver sitting in front of the porthole, you couldn't see half of the words and it didn't make sense. So I axed it.

Overall, I like the way this piece turned out. It mostly accomplishes what I wanted it to. Granted, I literally just finished this piece an hour ago after working on it for a couple of months, so I can't really see it anymore. I THINK it looks good.

I will say one thing: It turns out I have my limit on the level of detail in a piece. This piece reached that limit. And then went past it. I do love me some detail, but this one got a little bit tedious. But, overall, I think it's a solid illustration and I'm glad I did it.

Welp, on to the next thing.


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