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Illustration Work Flow - Homage to Lisa Frank Rate Topic: -----

#1 modi123_1   User is online

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Posted 09 April 2015 - 08:11 PM

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You are futzing around looking for with something to draw, and want to do knock out an illustration in the homage of another artist's style. You want to go in the style of the artist, but put your own hefty spin on the topic. How do you break down the steps or actions needed to home in on the spirit of another artist's work, but not necessarily duplicate it?

- Photoshop (but gimp or any other similar drawing application can do)
- Wacom tablet (it helps)

The steps are not too difficult, and by no means was this straight forward when I started. I boiled down the decisions and steps here, but there was a lot of sidetracked time playing with options.

First - research, research, research! Find a few key examples of the artist's work and study them. Look at the over all composition, line work, coloring, and feel.

Remember - you are not looking to be a replica, but a strong showing of spirit of the work.

I decided to go with a Lisa Frank-esque picture. Back in the day you were not cool unless your TrapperKeeper, folders, and miscellaneous school supplies were mostly decorated with her work.

Pick a few areas you would like to attempt. In this case I really dig the coloring, over all cutesie look, vibrant colored shading, and sparkles. I opted against the clutter, but wanted to keep it simple.

When examining Lisa Frank's work you'll see similar color palettes, a generally white central figure, brightly colored lines,

whimsical application of stars, and contrasting color drops. I want that theme going in my project.

To keep my palette in check I picked a few of the more alluring colors. This was a good mix of similar colors in bright and dark variants to provide a cohesive idea. The color coding came off of using eye dropper and poking through palettes.


Keeping in mind the blocky nature of Lisa Frank's work I kept my sketch open with large amounts of open space, a solid outline, and a bit of whimsy. It amused me to contrast cthulu and the happy-go-lucky theme of Lisa Frank and figured that would be a good challenge. Remember - this is just to exercise a few key elements, and not be a spot on attempt.

Again - nothing too intricate, or with a serious set of proportions. I pushed around ideas on the wings (even if I should have some), and where to do the tentacles. I figured the face tentacles would be a good focus and drew them prominently on the face.

Play around with your ideas on what would be a good subject - do you want to keep it close to Frank's themes of horses and kittens, or go for something like a stylized zombie, anthropomorphic apple, or even a simplified video game figure? Remember - fuzz out the details and keep it open.

This may take some time, but it is an important foundation for the rest of the drawing.

I am now armed with my sketch, color palette, examples of Frank's work, and the key areas I want to hit on. Let's see what I can do with that!

1. I opted to go with a basic background. Taking a few of the colors I made a circular gradient and semi-centered it on the canvas. It helps keep my colors in perspective, and I can flip back to a flat pink-peach canvas to check for issues.

2. Using Photoshop's pen tool (p) I outlined my sketch and filled it white. This provided a layer for me to add things on top of, and anchored the drawing. (This may take sometime)

3. After cleaning up the edges I opened up the layer style for the white layer and added a thin stroke around the entire piece in the light blue (1EB2E8). This keeps in tune with the theme we are shooting for.

4. Next I dived into the tentacles. I took the long route and used the pen tool to make a solid layer for each. The color is unimportant as it will be hidden by a few more layers.

5. The individual layers helped me anchor clipping masks where I and rib each tentacle with colors and impunity. I am a fan of expediting tedious work with clipping masks, and this helped provide a more organic feel to each. Here I tried to keep to the old ROY G BIV look with the warmer colors near the face and the cooler at the tips.

6. Fancy! Frank has very vibrant shadows with her color streams and I tried to make that a reality here.

For each tentacle I created another clipping mask and added edge highlights in a nice dark pink.

7. When I show the colored bit the edge layer seems hard to tell.

8. Take the edge highlights and set that to 'linear burn' and voila! A solid depth of shading!

9. Repeat that step for each tentacle.

(Here is an example of some tentacles having the linear burn highlight and some not.)

10. I grouped all of those layers, and clipping masked layers, into a folder and hid them.

I looked at my layer and started to define blocks. I would exend out the stroked blue at joints and areas of highlight.

With those areas defined I would go back and add a thin line of dark purple under them. (Franks' has examples where she adds a line of color and then follows it with another).

11. Here is the progress so far!

12. Next I focused on the eyes. Instead of going too anime with reflections I kept them flat black voids, but made them pretty! Soft blue rings to indicate depth, some pretty purple eye lashes, and blue/yellow eyebrows.

To keep the cute look of Lisa Frank I made they eyes overly large, and the eyebrows in a non threatening arch.

The face seemed a bit off so I threw in a small triangle nose of dark purple and a small line of pink inside.

12. This next layer may seem like a lot is went on, but really it hasn't. Keep in touch with my sketch I went and started to add shadow and highlights with my pallet. I tried to keep the darker/cooler colors in the best shade, and the warmer/lighter on top.

The wings I filled in volume by layering harder lines of purple with blue and yellow highlights. I did not want to add hard lines, but layers of colors helped portray volume.

Make sure to cover all the areas where there may be logical shading, but have fun with it. Refer back to the source pictures to

see where Franks would highlight and best determine where that would fit on your drawing. Go crazy with the colors!

I also added a quick jaunty crown for our little guy. Knock out a basic outline, fill in with gold, dab alternating "jewel"

tips, and add shading for where it sits on the head.

13. I was happy with the level of detail in the character and how it really oozed that Franks charm, and moved to the background.

With the current layers hidden I re-examined Frank's background with the cat. Basic block buildings, dual colored, and simple. I can do that!

The buildings are mirrored line work. Quick, dirty, a little odd shaped to keep in the cthulu theme, and filled in. Non standard shapes, and variable lines to break up the space. With one set done I mirrored to the other I tried to keep both mostly to the edges.

I also added the rough outlines for a platform for our little man to stand on.

14. This next bit becomes tricky. I did not like how everything was floating out in space, so I created a rolling fog with a custom 'smoke' brush and using black and white. I overlayed the fog with splotches of color and cleared it from the platform.


15. Reviewing my source material I liked the stars breaking up the monotony of the image. I created a quick star brush, set it to variable sizes, and started dabbing on a layer set behind the buildings/fog, but ahead of the gradient. I went back over and dabbed an airbrush (low opacity/flow) over each to give the hazy look.

I really didn't want to spend too much time on the platform so I threw in some color to give it a bit of depth and punch

16. With the horse reference image I noticed a flow of stars, and dug that. It may be a preset brush in Photoshop but I had a lined star brush. I set that sucker to variable size, angle, jitter, and came across the image to break about 2/3s of the way down on both sides.

Now to get the over lay part right I used the lasso tool to highlight what I wanted up front, cut that from the layer, and paste

it to a new layer.

17. Lastly I added an irregular, translucent, jet to follow-ish the stars.

18. I pull back in the figure and call it quits.

I like the solid Lisa Frank look and feel while accomplishing my larger goals I had laid out: color, line work, and over all feel. The final illustration looks fun, merry, and just a little disjointed with the tentacled overlord of cute. That being said - it also looks great on a TrapperKeeper!

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Replies To: Illustration Work Flow - Homage to Lisa Frank

#2 jon.kiparsky   User is offline

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Posted 14 April 2015 - 08:00 PM

This is a very nice piece of work. I'm not an illustrator, and have no intention of being one, but it's really nice to have a look inside the illustrator's mind.
Well done!
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