Worked on a new illustration for Livres de Proches (https://www.livresdeproches.fr). And realized it was the best moment to explain a little bit of my process and tools.
1/ Rough and sources
Before starting to draw anything, I like to source myself on posing and on the mood about the month's subject for the illustration. This month was about being cozy at home. I didn't want to depict something related to Valentine's day, so I took the decision to get rid of the usual guy character which accompanies this lady in each illustration for once to avoid misunderstanding, since they both are mascots for the service and not supposed to be related as lovers.
I crawled around Pinterest, looking for works of Magalie Fournier and Diglee. The pattern of a lady reading nearby a window seemed to be a used reference. However, the posing was a perfect reflection of a winter and cozy mood so I took both illustrations as references and drew my own interpretation of this "cliche" image.
I can't work without sourcing, sourcing is important. It can help to understand posing, environment, colors or even what can speak to your main target audience (in this case, women between 25 and 34): what are their references, what they like...
I only work on Photoshop CC. Using Pencil: Stumpy 6pt to create a preparatory sketch. It can be found here for free: http://stumpypencil.blogspot.fr/2009/11/return-of-stumpy-pencil.html
2/ Base colors
Once I'm enough satisfied with the sketch, I lower its opacity to 30% and start to apply the base colors on it. My main guidelines when working on illustrations for Livres de Proches are:
- Never use outside lines if you don't need them to understand a form
- Avoid colliding two similar colors as much as I can
- Only use as base colors dark blue (#142d5c) / Red (#ee3634) / Light grey (#ee3634) / Dark grey (#717f9c)
At this point, I switched to Clean comics brush from Kyle's Brushes pack at 8pt and I use it to draw the contours of the forms, then fill them using "G" and splitting each form on a layer.
I accelerate this process using shortcuts "B" for Brush/ "G" to fill a form/ "E" to erase/ "alt" when I'm using brush to pick a color.
3/Inner lines and soft ambient light
Next step will mainly be used to add details inside forms, using clipping masks to draw inside forms without bothering to draw outside of it. Last step consist at adding shadows using a light grey layer at 31% opacity in Linear Density +.
The rules I set up to use colors are these ones:
- On a red form, use white lines
- On a grey form, use dark blue lines. White lines are accepted to create patterns: here you can see it on the plaid for example.
- On a dark blue form, use light grey lines
4/ Color correction and textures
The final step consists of adding texture, make color corrections and add grain to erase this "too clean"/"digital" look of the original image and get a closer look to the new branding colors of the product (a mix of raspberry red and dark purple-blue). It was a choice I made since the first illustration ever done for Livres de Proches. Since the subject is all about printed books, it felt weird to not relate the illustrations to this idea of paper texture, even if the illustration was only meant to be use on web. This kind of details matters if you want to build a link between your audience/subject (here, physical books)/illustration.
The illustration is also slightly cropped to fit the final size of the visual.