Three stages of my messy illustration style

Many people have been asking me to discuss my artistic practices in illustration. Here is a brief run down…

My style of illustration involves the following steps.

Step One:
Line work. It is the basic outline or shape of the elements contained within the design. I am a big fan of tracing the basic shape using reference images. The concept of the design originates in my mind/ from my thoughts. After I conceptualize the message (narrowing down what I hope to convey) I use a reference image, Photoshop, and other tricks to create an outline. I usually use images from my own photography library (way back when I enjoyed taking photos with my digital camera. Nowadays my smart phone is the dominant tech for photos at our house).
The first photo (see below) was sketched with layers for the line work. I first made the outline of the female figure, then on subsequent layers, added background details like the fence trees and buildings in the distance.

Step Two:
Adding color to each area of the illustration. I enjoy beginning with the figure in the foreground, and working backwards to the farthest objects in the line of sight.
When adding colour, it may be tempting to use the fill tool to fill each section within the black lines with colour. I think it is a better practice to use your brush of choice and fill in each colour on a separate layer.
This helps to develop your painting skill because it avoids the shortcut method of using the fill tool. Notice that the trees in the background have been coloured outside of their lines. I like this lazy/ messy style. Perhaps colouring outside of the lines is tantalizing in my mind.

Step three:
Complete the background colour. Add an extra layer to smooth the line work out where there may be unsteady lines. In this step I continue to keep each major component on separate layers; although I may begin to merge similar layers together.
If you are trying this method, by all means, continue beyond step three! Keep adding layers so that the detail can be improved. Use airbrushes, markers, and any other tool you desire.
The completed sketch is seen here. I opted to leave the face blank. I also changed the skin tone of the new illustration to reflect the concept I had in my mind. I wanted to see what a 19th century portrait would look like with a person of colour as the subject. I like how it turned out.

Thanks for stopping by,

S

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