Project Deconstruction: Digital Illustration

You know besides being bloggers for Design Sorbet, we are first and foremost creatives. Ruth is a drawing ninja, Eleonora is a media guru, Sarah has kickin screen printing skills, and I do animations and digital illustrations. So project deconstruction is an excuse for us to show you our work, but because we’re a design blog and because we want you to be able to take something with you from our blog, and do your own thing, we want to show you the process & development behind each project.

Today I will guide you through the process of digitally colouring and adding light to one of my favourite illustrations that was created for a friend of mine. But before I want to give you a bit of background info on the subjects that are central to my drawings. A digital designer that I admire once told me ‘When you get good at something, let it go and do something else’. He wasn’t referring to dropping drawing and become a construction worker of course, but to challenge oneself as an artist. When I started drawing I was never fond of children and animals, I found them harder to draw than anything else, and also slightly boring. You can guess what happened next; I started putting (especially) children at the core of my illustrations. The focus was not just children however, I was (and still am) interested in children and their sexuality. Finding a subject that interested me of course, helped me to want to undertake this challenge more than ever.

silence2

A project that I did with fellow blogger Ruth Ancilleri. This was a part of a collective exhibition against censorship in Malta. The viewers were invited to look through the hole in the box…

silence

…Inside they would see what looked like two girls undressing in a girl’s room(this is actually not how the box was inside originally, this picture was taken later when some of the items had broken due to their fragility).

girlnaked

An illustration of a girl standing naked surrounded by various objects symbolising childhood and adolescence.

Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 11.18.43

This is the illustration that we will be deconstructing today; two boys holding hands in one of the boys’ room. One of the boys is moving the curtain to the side and they are both looking out, perhaps to see if there’s anyone watching, spotting something outside or simply to wonder at the world. That’s the poetic side for you, now let’s get down to the technical stuff! Since my work is semi-digital, the deconstruction is mainly what happens during the digital stage. Please note that this is not a Photoshop tutorial, however if you are interested to learn Photoshop (a visual graphics application) Mashable have compiled 12 Beginner tutorials right here. If you have any other questions about technical details, feel free to ask in the comment section.

Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 11.16.18

This is the original illustration with a hint of water colour. The boys’ clothes and their rooms are all inspired by real clothes and objects in children’s rooms that I find online and in books.

Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 11.16.30

The image is opened in Photoshop and the extra background cropped. I always keep a copy of the original in case I want to revert back to it.

Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 11.16.51

Pencil usually loses some of its sharpness when it’s transferred into data. The first thing I do before I start any colouring is adjust the levels to make the dark areas darker, and the light areas lighter.

Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 11.16.59

Time for some colouring. I tried to stick to colours that are low in saturation; mostly blues,beiges and hints of orange and yellows. In this case I have done the colouring all on one layer and using a very rough technique.

Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 11.17.08

After the colouring, I usually add highlights and shadows on separate layers. Here the black was added roughly and then erased depending on where the light hits the subjects and environment.

Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 11.17.46

Light was the focal point in this project seeing that my light source is in the middle of the composition. I really wanted to get the highlights right here. I started adding while colouring on a separate layer to emphasise the areas that are directly hit by the light.

Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 11.17.56

Still wasn’t happy with the light, so added even more light in a circular motion coming out from behind the curtain to imitate the radiance of the sun (notice the back lighting on the characters as well)

Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 11.18.05

and still messing around with light! The final touch was adding a lens flare effect (something I rarely use) but I wanted the light to really blast through the window, to give the feel of when one has just woken up and is blinded by the sun. The lens flare effect was then retouched through lots of erasing (to avoid the fakeness of it)

Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 11.18.15

Now I was thinking I wanted a slightly nostalgic environment, so I lowered down the saturation slightly.

Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 11.18.27

With me so far? Hope so 🙂 The final touches are basically getting the overall colour balanced and to my liking. I added an overall brown layer using the soft light transparency option. This obviously gives the drawing a brownish tint.

Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 11.18.43

…and finally, another layer but this time a greyish light blue/green once again using the soft light option, to make the overall colour slightly colder.

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