26 October 2012

Illustrators do actually 'draw'!

Every now and then, I feel the need to let everyone know (roughly) how digital vector illustrations are created. There is an assumption that if art has been created digitally, then it is not really 'art'.
I have had so many instances where someone is checking out my illustrations, and having initially liked the work in question, then asks that question ....."Do you create these digitally?"
The unspoken significance of the question being, of course, that if I did, then it cannot possibly be a real piece of illustration, or indeed 'proper art' !

This is the point where I blush shamefully down at my shuffling feet and confess in whispered tones, that 'yes, it was created digitally.... (Not really!...But you get the point)
Personally, I don't give a stuff if my work is considered 'art' or not. What I would like to clear up though, is that to create an illustration, I do not press a button on my 'pooter and illustrations just come flying out !..nae skill, nae input, nae artistic ability. I can draw actually.

The facts are, if you can't draw, then no computer, or illustration software is going to disguise this.
You have to be able to DRAW. Simple as that.
I always start a project with a sketch, or more likely lots of sketches. They are sketched over in a layout pad, refined, and tweaked, and then scanned into Photoshop as a base for my vector illustration.
That is where the vector magic comes in, and I trace over my sketch with a digital pen, refining and colourising on the computer until I have an illustration which can be changed/re-coloured as much as I like at the click of a Wacom pen. It really is an incredible process, and one which can throw up loads of unexpected results and surprises, and I feel, every bit as creative as hand drawing everything traditionally with pen, pencil, or watercolour..whatever.

Below are some sketches and the final 'digital' versions of the artwork.












Not that I am anti  traditional methods, far from it.
It is fab to see hand drawn illustration featuring again so much right now in all areas of publishing, particularly editorial, and children's illustration. 
It's so weird because as a student back in the late 70's (yip..there are some of us around still) computers didn't exist! We set type with rub down transfer lettering called Letraset (does it still exist?) and hand set metal type on great big Heidelberg printing presses in the great big printing department in Edinburgh College of Art. That bit I do not miss one little bit.
Below  are some of my early commissions as an illustrator. They were for Floris Books, a lovely publisher in Edinburgh who published many of the Scottish history books which are now part of the school curriculum.
Here are some of my watercolour images for them.
I just think it's interesting to look back on how different my work was then to the images I now produce for clients.




















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