James OBrien
New England TB Symposium illustration
I made this illustration for the New England TB Symposium. It was used for their program and posters as well as mugs and bags.
Initially, I drew a pattern of abstract shapes, but the client wanted me to show the drugs used to treat TB. The final sketch fused the cabinet with the head and shoulders profile.
I used my trimmed Pentel brush pen for the line work. It was getting low on ink which allows me to create a more textural line.
Below is the illo in a few stages of development.
I made this drawing of Macklemore back in August while I was watching the MTV VMAs with my daughter, later added color in Pshop.
I like using my Pentel Brush Pens but sometimes the ink comes out a bit too heavy. So I decided to trim one a bit thinking it would reduce the amount of ink coming out. It did but it also created a kind of rakey line quality which I really like.
Alzheimer's illo

Last month, I was assigned a job by Harvard Magazine to make an illustration for an article about Alzheimer’s. The concept relates to a treatment referred to as “meaningful engagement.”

One of the effective activities discussed involved patients tending to plants. I wanted to make a decorative portrait that showed this relationship between the patient and the plants, as well as the internal isolation of the patient’s mind.

The larger portrait represents the external activity, the patient tending to the plants, and the smaller internal portrait represents the patient separated from reality.

Below is the process, beginning with thumbnail sketches, rough sketches for the client, and the final sketch approved by the client.


Above is the ink line work I made with a Pentel Brush Pen.

For my work, I use new textures made from scanned elements as well as old textures pulled from previous illustrations. For this illustration, I used three textures pulled from previous illustrations and re-colored them, light orange for the main texture, medium orange for an additional texture, and green for a texture that will relate to the line work.

The image below shows the inked line work on a layer above the textures.
I brought in additional textures to create the head shape, and additional textures for the body.
And below is the colorized line work followed by the final illustration.
Illustrator Primitive Shape tool demo
This is a demo I did last semester showing students how to create an illo using Illustrator's Primitive Shape tools.
I used the Rounded Rectangle tool to create the main head shape and then used the Ellipse tool to create the features. The triangles were created using the Star tool, reducing the number of points to three. The Line segment tool was used to create the line at the top of the mouth between the nostrils.
I then used the Shape Builder tool to combine the shapes. I lengthened the nostrils by dragging one of each circle's points down to the line above the mouth.
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