Saturday, December 5, 2009

Creating a Buggy School - From Start to Finish

Work-in-progress shot of the ladybug

I finished a custom illustration for a preschool auction in Colorado, the other day. You might remember the t-shirt design I showed a few months back (click here) for the team Alex's Angels, as they biked in the Courage Classic race to benefit the Children's Hospital... well, this illustration was a request by Elizabeth, who I worked with on that piece. I loved designing the Alex's Angels illustration and was more than thrilled to work on this one - and thought it would be fun to share my creative process from start to finish.

My style is very... scribbly - and if anyone were to ask me what my technique is I'd probably have to say I'm a blendy scribble-scrabbler. Kind of like a preschooler, so its appropriate that this picture is going to benefit a preschool!

Okay, there are a going to be a lot of pictures, with the final, finished illustration at the end, but I wanted to show the layers of color/blending that went into this piece. For the other color pencil artists out there, I used Prismacolor pencils, and my time spent on this illustration, which measures 11 x 14 inches, was about 7 hours (time gauged by my 60 minute CD played 7 times - its a good mix of music).


Layer One: A little bit of Cool Grey 20%, little bit of Limepeel, little bit of Goldenrod.

Blend, then another layer of color:
Little bit of Burnt Ochre, Pink, French Grey 70%, and Grass Green

Blend, then another layer of color:
Little bit of White and Warm Grey 70%

Lots more blending.

Okay, at this point, I can't move forward with the snail until I get the background around him finished. So here comes some Spring Green grass, some Light Cerulean Blue sky, and French Grey 70% of the eyes.

Okay, I skipped a couple of steps, but I think you get the idea. Shade with Grass green, blend. Shade rock with Violet Blue, blend. Outline with black, blend. Add white to highlight.



Yikes, what a mess. Okay, Spring Green grass, Cool Grey 20% rocks, Crimson Red school, Burnt Ochre roof, and Spanish Orange windows/door


Okay, I clearly skipped a lot of layers here, but I shaded similarly to the snail/rock, with the exception of adding Tuscan Red (I heart Tuscan Red!) to shade the school.

And then BLEND!

Here is the finished school. The flag features the caterpillar logo of the preschool this will be auctioned for, and was the inspiration behind the entire piece.
Is that not the cutest logo you have ever seen in your life?

As for the entire illustration... well, I won't go in detail on each step, but here are some work in progress photos, as well as the final, finished illustration.

Aw... its just a baby! Here's my newborn sketch. Quite a bit will be changed and polished. Like the bee - I didn't really like him flying upside-down. Also, I made the snail, caterpillar and ladybug larger for the final illustration. You can see in the next picture that they take up more of the foreground than they do in the sketch.

Ah, here we are at the gawky teenage years of my illustration's work-in-progress life.
Very scribbly, half blended, and a little difficult imagining that it will turn out cute in the end.

Now it's a full blown college student, somewhat confident, but still finding itself in the big, bad world of illustration. We have a long way to go before it graduates into a finished illustration.

DONE! (click to see larger, if you want!) Yay, it got its diploma and is ready for a job. Way to go.

Before I go, let me just say... If I can creatively inspire people with my illustrations, I feel like its been a job well done. Four-year-old Gracie, who loves pulling up a chair and working next to me, was inspired to create a little buggy school scene of her own, and I've just got to share.

Nothing is cuter than the work of a preschooler!

Okay, I hope you liked seeing my process from start to finish! If you are interest in seeing more of my work-in-progress posts, click on the link: Inside The Artist's Studio

And if you have any questions about my creative process, just ask!




April said...

Awwwww, that turned out adorable! Man am I honored that I got to watch a bit of the sketching process!!! Lucky me!

Elizabeth said...

oh my goodness! first, i love your illustrations! they are adorable pieces of whimsical fantasies! and, i LOVED this post! with every new pic i let out an "ooooh" or "aww" and "Huuuu!". all i could think is "she is magic!". now, i think i must go out and get a blender pen (is this what you use?) and see if i can make a little magic of my own... <3

Unknown said...

Aw, thanks!!

Elizabeth, I do not use blender pens. They never turn out right on my paper... I use oil-based solvents (nasty stuff!) which are turpeniods and VERY toxic, blending stumps (tortillons) and Q-tips for the majority of the blending, and then Prismacolor colorless blender pencils and white pencils (I prefer oil based pencils, like Design Spectracolor and Walnut Hollow, when I blend with white) for the detail blend work.

I hope this is helpful!

Weyakin Designs said...

What a fun post! Thanks for sharing your process. I always like seeing how other artists do their work.

Melanie @ Whimsical Creations said...

That is fantastic!! You did an awesome job!

Love watching the process on creations come to life.

Leah said...

I love seeing how people work - great post!

Anonymous said...

It's so neat to see your work come to life. I was a pencil scribbler for a while... but the more I scribbled the less confidence I had to finish what I was scribbling... so I have some half scribbles in my treasure trunk. I just love your style miss! ♥

Anonymous said...

I swear, this illustration is going to cause madness and mayhem at our school silent auction... this is the type of piece that will cause bidding wars! I can't wait! THANK YOU so much for working on this Marisa! I LOVE LOVE LOVE it!! :)

Alyssa S. said...

That is so cool! I can honestly say I've never seen a pencil illustration in the different stages from beginning to end before. I love the final illustration...and Gracie's rendition :)

esque said...

I loved seeing the steps! The finished pieces looks so awesome! And Gracie's well on her way on becoming a pro!

Unknown said...

What an amazing and interesting process! Thanks so much for sharing, and the finished product is brilliant!

Oh Mandie said...

aww, I love it! I must say, I think that you should do a whole line of snail drawings now, because that snail has got to be the cutest thing ever!

One Woman's Thoughts said...

Very sweet illustrations! Thank you for letting us peek over your shoulder while you work.


Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness! Im 14 and loove your blog but it makes me want to cry when you say you dont like Prismacolored Pencils! When yoou learn how to use them there are endless possibilities...I have and use spectracolor colored pencils in some of my designs but they have a harder inner core and prismacolors come in so many more varietys and shades...I would love to email you..if you had the time my email is!

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