Thursday, June 28, 2012

Prison Beating - How to Draw a Cover Illustration

Phoenix New Times - Illustration: Graham Smith
Art Directors Peter Storch and Zac McDonald, assigned me another scary and gruesome story to illustrate for the Phoenix New Times cover article.

Prisoner Alan DeLong was beaten mercilessly in the bathroom of Joe Arpaio's Arizona jail. His eye was knocked out at the hands of  the "Torpedo Man"- a gang enforcer, in a case of mistaken identity. The prison guard threw up when he saw the extensive injuries. 

The Phoenix New Times sent me the official court deposition and medical examiners photos as reference for the illustration, the article was not yet written when I began drawing the thumbnails.

I took a storyboard approach to the illustration assignment and thumbnailed key scenes from the attack in the prison bathroom. These thumbnails are tiny little drawing done very quickly, using a fountain pen, and colored with watercolor.

After review, the Art Director wanted a few ideas cleaned up, plus wanted to see the actual Punch-In-The-Face! I began to develop the thumbnails into pencil "franken-sketches" right away. 

Pencil sketches are more developed, 1/4 page size, and "franken-comped" quickly in Photoshop - using any means necessary to get the idea across. The blood red was emphasized at this stage, because something that gory would be a talking point on the client side.

The Torpedo Man
Found Alive
The Victim

Once the final direction is decided, I create the illustration, and create a few color comps offering different possible croppings and colors ways.

Magazines want their cover to be a different color than the week before, so be prepared to be flexible!

They also need a lot of negative space for the masthead, headline and other copy. Adding plenty of extra bleed to your cover illustration will give your Art Director some wiggle room when designing the cover.

See More:  Seized! The award winning cover illustration by Graham Smith and AD Peter Storch, for The Phoenix New Times.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

How to Paint a Portrait - Video

1. Wet the paper with clean water
2. Lay in the general pattern of light and dark shapes with a thin wash
3. Work thin to thick - thin wash to thick paint
4. Work light to dark - building the values and base colors with thin washes
5. Dry the wet layer - so you can paint on top
6. Get down with your paint for a while - pop the highlights, push the darks.
7. Peel the tape off - the funnest part!

I'm filling up Sketchbook 31 with a series of self portrait acrylic paint studies. I like to explore lots of different media and paper, and my new Kilamanjaro Watercolor Natural White Paintbook is just perfect for bashing about with paint!

Besides the paper itself, I like two things about this spiral bound watercolor pad. Number 1, it has paper fly sheets between each watercolor page. Number 2, it has a wide aspect ratio. Tall, in this case.

Below are a few self portraits from Sketchbook 31.

Acrylic paint self portrait studies by Graham Smith.

Paper: Kilamanjaro 140lb cold pressed watercolor paper.

Brush: 1 inch flat, #8 round nylon.

Color: Raw Sienna, Ultramarine blue, Cadmium Yellow Medium, Mars Black, Titanium White, I think one of them has Magenta, and there may be some Burnt Sienna in there somewhere, too.

Video: iPhone 4s, Stop Motion Recorder, iMovie.

Music: Moby - Extreme Ways - 18

Friday, June 15, 2012

Nexxus Model - Pencil Drawing Video

Nexxus Model - Graham Smith

"How did you draw that?" is the most common question I get. So, peek over my shoulder while I draw the gorgeous model from Nexxus, to get the basic idea.

Nexxus Model- Detail: Graham Smith
Paper: The Nexxus model was illustrated on Crane Classic Crest paper, 8.5 x 11 inches. Classic Crest paper is a creamy ivory color and has a velvety smooth finish - just perfect for colored pencil drawing.

Pencils: I used a mix of colored pencils from Prismacolor and Blick. I'll draw with anything I can get my hands on.

Colors: Terracotta, Burnt Ochre, Vermillion, Scarlet Red, Dark Brown, Lite Blue, Deft Blue, Black.

Video: iPhone 4s, Stop Motion Recorder, iMovie.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Life Drawing Workshop: male study

Bruno on Red - Graham Smith
Bruno on Red: colored pencil life drawing, done as a demo drawing at the Sony Life Drawing Workshop, to illustrate how a light source is brightest at it's focus.

It was really fun drawing that dense red curtain. The whole thing is a solid, thick, waxy color, and I just about tired my hands out coloring it! Good times.

John Bruno on Red (detail) - Graham Smith
For the drawing geeks: This drawing is 18 x 24 inches on Strathmore Recycled 80 lb drawing paper. The paper is prepared with a light acrylic wash of raw sienna paint, to seal the paper and give it a nice warm base tone. I used colored pencils and white chalk to draw the figure over the course of a three hour pose. I finished the drawing in my studio at home.

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