Love and Death
I recently had the pleasure of being a contributing artist for the awesome project Silver Screen Society. I contacted them because I had an itch to contribute and see how my work would sit in that sphere. Trevor Basset offered me a slot on November’s Woody Allen double feature. I had a choice between the retro-futurism of Sleeper or the Napoleonic era of Love and Death. Both sounded great, but i imagined being stifled by the loaded imagery of retro-future and opted for Love and Death. Anyway, I’m pretty happy with how this bad boy turned out.
I wanted to share a little bit of my process on this one because i want to move past this style and find something new. I figure if i detail all the tools i use then it would motivate me to up my game, or at least change it. I don’t think that there will be any surprises as to how i did this, but hopefully you will find it somewhat interesting.
My process has three parts: the sketch, the vectors, and the textures. I will show examples and explain each part of the piece below.
The Sketch: I had set out a goal of sketching out the piece and sticking to the sketch fairly close. I had to make this a goal because sometimes I go crazy and just try shit out until i’m happy and it always takes way longer than it should. Plus its good practice to stick to a plan and execute. As you can see this sketch was a little more ambitious than the final piece. I wanted reflections in his glasses of boobs and death, and i wanted underwear scattered across the battle field. I knew in sketching these things that it would be much harder to complete, so i knew that i would probably abandon the extras. I think its always good to shoot for the ridiculous, and then let the piece simplify organically.
The Vectors: This stage varies a lot for me. Most of the time after I sketch, I start in illustrator with a blank slate and start drawing in illustrator. This inevitably leads to more “sketching” in Illustrator. I went pretty standard with this piece and I scanned the sketch, placed it, and the start tracing it with shapes. As you can see, the type is completely different than the sketch, so i ended up drawing the letters pretty haphazardly. I usually pick colors pretty arbitrarily at this stage. I know some things will be certain colors so i pick something that works. The greens and skin tones are all really off on this, but noodling with color is premature at this point.
Textures: I used 3 main textures for this piece. One for the chip board feel, one for a a heavy texture (mostly in the background), and one for shadows. The texture above is what i used for shadowing on this piece. I got an ink brayer and loaded it up with a print making ink. Then I just rolled it over probably 50 pieces of paper. Out of that 50 pieces there are about 4 that work really well. I copy parts of the scan that i want use and then i skew, distort, and size the hell out of it to get to do what i want. There are probably 300 or so layers of this texture in some form in the piece.
For the heavy texture i bought some screens used for screen printing and I just pulled ink across it on paper. I have tons of really interesting shapes and happy accidents that came from this process. The piece above is actually a scan that is inversed to make it more light than dark.
Here is come chipboard that i scanned in b&w. I also inverse this to get the black texture you see in the hat and the coat.
After i figure out what kinds of textures i want to use I import all of the layers from illustrator into photoshop. there is a couple of ways to do this. You can export your illustrator file as a psd with layers. Its a little tricky to get the layers to export correctly sometimes if its a complex piece, so sometimes i just copy and paste layers from illustrator to photoshop. After all the shapes are in i make folders for each main piece and apply a mask. Then i make masks for each smaller part that needs it. For example, in the face, there is a mask for the whole face, then each eye has its own mask for the shading inside.
Then you just copy and paste textures like your life depends on it.
well, there you have it. I’m not sure if that is helpful or interesting. I’m sure there is a million ways to skin this cat, but hopefully you enjoy seeing behind the curtain a little.
again, big ups to the crew at Silver Screen Society. they are doing something rad and you should keep your eye on that project as it produces some real gems.