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Progression of an Illustration

4 May

A few months ago, I did an illustration for the town of Erie, Colorado for an ad for the Boulder Business Report. Their goal was to create a perception of the town as a “promised land” for businesses; an affordable alternative to the “Boulder bubble.” By the time I was brought into the project, the concept was pretty much set in stone. So for me, it was more of a technical challenge than a creative one. Their vision was pretty elaborate—involving a city in the distance, a business man in a bubble, a power cord road and some ballots issues. It really put my Photoshopping skills to the test.

While I love illustrating by hand, I prefer digital illustration for commercial work. I’m nothing if not practical, and Photoshop is so much more forgiving than paint if a client wants to change something. After a quick pencil sketch to establish a composition, I hopped on the computer.

Step 1:
I was provided was photos of the town, so I clipped them out and started to arrange my composition.

Step 2:
The photos were taken at different angles, so creating consistent perspective was really challenging. I refined my building placement and started to develop the landscape and incorporate more of their conceptual ideas.

Step 3:
I used the photos for placement only. After all, this was meant to be an illustration, not a photo collage. Once I had everything where I wanted it, I began to color over all of the buildings. Again, I’m practical, and this is much faster than drawing everything from scratch! I had to “summer-fy” it as many of the buildings were covered in snow. I also added sky and grass photos to work from.

Step 4:
The finishing touches included more shadows for depth as well as more greenery and flowers for texture (and to hide some of the awkward building fronts). I also simplified some of the building detail and refined the conceptual elements such as the power cord road and Boulder bubble man.

Step 5:
I kept the ad design pretty simple to maximize the illustration’s impact and space.