When I started offering my services as an illustrator, I thought that my ‘angle’ to distinguish myself from other artists would be to create ‘fantasy’ images –as in portraying the subject as Jedis, wizards, or other type of fictional characters.
Well, I guess this would also fall into the category of a ‘fantasy’ image, although of a different kind: Way back in April a friend of Paul Kimball, Paul Russell, contacted me because he was interested in me creating a very special commission. Because his engagement plans had to be inevitably postponed due to the Coronavirus situation, he wanted me to paint a lake scene with him and Donna, his bride. He provided several reference photographs of the location, as well as pictures of the two of them. Paul was very specific in the kind of image he wanted –something I appreciated– and directed me to portray him wearing a traditional Scottish Highland formal attire, while Donna would be wearing her nurse uniform.
There was one more very important detail Paul requested: Moored at the lake’s wooden pier, he wanted a red boat, which had belonged to Donna’s late father, as a way to symbolize his presence during their union. Now, I’ve been asked to create greeting cards and birthday presents before, but this is the first time I’ve been asked to paint a wedding commission, and its relevance for both Paul and Donna didn’t go unnoticed on me, which is why I devoted myself to create the best work I could.
Close-up of the main characters, with the shading applied to the figures for volume and shadows. The obvious advantage of working everything in separate layers is you have a great deal of control over everything that happens on the illustration –the drawback is you can easily get confused if you don’t organize and label your layers! More than once you notice a detail you want to erase or modify, and end up turning dozens of layers on and off until you find the right one 😅
Back since my days when I was still working in the Interior design industry, I’ve been obsessed with photorealism and the way light behaves in the natural world. 20 years ago convincing photorealism was a sort of ‘holy grail’ only achieved by top Hollywood studios using incredibly expensive software and very powerful desktop computers, but over time the programs became more affordable, and Moore’s law allowed even the most modest architect studios to acquire computers robust enough to create photorealistic 3d renderings. This type of work became something of a specialty for me, and I spent many days (and NIGHTS) tweaking and experimenting and cursing in front of a computer screen in order to create decent computer graphic images of how our architectural projects would look like, once completed –it also needs to be said that, as a result of this trend, clients have been completely SPOILED, and they all expect to receive as many of these CGI renders as possible, oblivious of how time consuming they really are.
But now that I no longer work with 3dMax or AutoCad, I realize that I still obsess about attaining photorealism in my work; which can be something of a crutch because (a) it takes a loooooong time to make 2d drawings look like 3d objects; and (b) because I fear this approach might hinder me from experimenting with other types of techniques and styles which, although not photorealistic, would still create very appealing illustrations. Like always, I keep experimenting and finding new tricks and techniques which can be further applied on the next project (in this case, one new thing I learned is painting the hair of the main characters on a different layer as the rest of the faces, which allowed me to have a ‘softer’ look and even mimic tiny hair strands on the sideburns or other areas).
Nevertheless, I feel I did a very good job with this project, and both Donna and Paul were very pleased with it as well. I’m really honored to think my artistic abilities were useful in creating something which will be cherished by both of them for many years to come.
If you also would like to contract my services for a special family heirloom of your own, leave a comment or write me an email to absurdbydesign[at]gmail[dot]com 🙂