The Making of an Illustration: Avarice Industries

Have you ever wondered what goes into the making of an illustration?

No? Well, dammit, here’s your chance to find out. (I promise that it’s nothing like what goes into making a sausage.) Keep in mind, this is how I create an illustration. I’m sure others have much more refined methods for doing so; Probably involving lawn chairs, fine tawny ports, and orgone. Mine involves loitering at The Roost with green tea and a sketchbook.

I recently completed a couple of illustrations for the forthcoming role-playing game Avarice Industries. (Which just went up on Kickstarter on Monday and met its goal in just a matter of hours!)

So, here’s the final illustration. Two rival business executives: one with a steam powered shotgun and a sweet mustache, one with a laissez-faire attitude and psychic powers.

But, before we can get to the final illustration, there are several stages that proceed it. The first of which was establishing the composition. It had to be a quarter of a page, which doesn’t leave much room for a composition involving two people, one of whom is mid action. (The guy in the middle has nothing to do with the illustration. I was probably just drawing some random person typing away on their laptop. Clearly I have no sustainable attention span.)

Once I had the basic composition, I started doodling the two protagonists. I wanted the woman to exude an air of nonchalance. (And also to look like an extra from Mad Men, apparently.)

The guy was meant to be steampunky. I’m sort of mad that I forgot to include a monocle in the final illustration.

Eventually, I needed to come up with some more refined sketches. These I drew with non repro blue pencil, going over them with a pen. Also I accidentally drew the woman’s thumb on the wrong side, because I am awesome. These sketches were then scanned into the computer for the next stages, done in Manga Studio and Photoshop.

This is the first of the pencils done in Manga Studio. For the last few years, almost all of my art has been done digitally. I’ve found that it’s pretty liberating. I’m no longer paralyzed with the fear that I’ll permanently screw up something that I’ve been laboring over for hours. Unless my hard drive crashes in which case you’ll probably find me sobbing in a corner. You’ll note that psychic executive lost her tablet and her mary-janes and gained some leather boots. (Presumably because I didn’t want people to think that Velma Dinkle was psychic.)

After this point, the author asked me to make the guy less cowboy-y (generally valuable advice for any circumstance) and more 19th century British-y. Which is fine, since I love to draw a good cravat and plaid suit! Again, a monocle is criminally absent.

Once this sketch was approved, it was time to move into inking and coloring (at this point, there’s really no distinguishing the inking from the coloring; I’ve broken it down here for clarity’s sake).

Et voila! Color!

This may seem like overkill, but most of these steps are pretty minute: momentary changes in the evolution of the drawing, captured only because I happen to work digitally.


Published by bryantalpha

Cartoonist, illustrator, raconteur

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