Jeffrey Smith
How To Build an Autocracy, The Atlantic (March 2017)
The Warm-up Drawings (To see more drawings, please find previous post, The Atlantic, Warm-Up Drawings, on Drawger.
Cover Comps; I submitted a total of 25 cover (photo) comps for this assignment. Through this process, the art director and the editors slowly began to focus their lens. Here are a few.
Cover Art; Initially, I painted the cover art in 3 pieces. 1.) The Sky 2.) Mr. Trump. 3.) The Crowd. Eventually, several revisions were made to the crowd and thus the necessity to draw several more figures and revise 40 or so heads in the crowd.
The Crowd; Damn good thing I love to draw because this part of the illustration took 9 hours for the first rendition, and then probably 5 more hours of drawing and Photoshop time. The figure of Mr. Trump was fast and easy, and the sky was kind of a process using acrylic ink, watercolor pencil and digital media. All 3 pieces were painted at a different scale for speed and detail.
The Final Art
The Tearsheets
The Atlantic; Warm Up Drawings
Tablet Magazine, Suzi at Yale
Sketch no.1. "too grown up!" Rejected. There were several photo comps that I created as reference for this drawing. The challenge was finding models that were 15 to 18 years of age.

Sketch no.2, Started drawing from my imagination. No reference.

Sketch no.2, second version, chiaroscuro, pattern, atmosphere, psychology...rejected!

Back to the drawing board, starting from scratch. No referance...yet.

Gesture, psychology...

More drawing...

Another pose to consider...

Standing pose, tennis racket as sexual metaphor, Frank Lloyd Wright looking on, girl on the bed, not loving the flat space of the background.

Found the "right" background finally. Asked a former student, Maria Ogelsby to pose as Suzi (she was terrific!) and hired a model for the Yale boy.

Psychology through gesture, hands, facial expression, space, and color, chiaroscuro, pattern, atmospheric perspective, angle of view.

Fortune: Battle for AIG, Process
This is a process piece about a recent assignment I did for Fortune Magazine titled, Battle for AIG. The assignment was essentially a re-creation, portrait illustration about a confrontation between Bob Benmosche and Harvey Golub. For reference, I used photography sent by the art staff at Fortune, and other reference from the internet. In Mr. Benmosches case, I assembled him from several pieces of reference. What follows is a look at the layers of my photocomp, and then the layers of my hand painted, FW acrylic ink illustration.
The exterior view, no.1

The middle ground; Office windows

The Foreground; Mr. Benmosche already assembled from several pieces of reference.

Foreground; Mr. Golub!

Extreme Foreground; The Desk

The Background; Another option

Back Ground; This?

Background; That's the one!

Step 1: For the sake of time, I decided to paint this illustration in layers. I painted the background at a small scale, the figures at a slightly larger scale, and the portraits at still a larger scale. For this layer, I painted only the windows necessary to complete the task.

I then copy and pasted the remainder of the windows using Photoshop>Warp Tool to adjust the perspective.

The Middleground Windows.

The Figures

Mr. Golub

Mr. Benmosche

The Illustration; Layered Up

One More Thing...


Imagon Dragons for Rolling Stone
I painted this band illustration of Imagine Dragons for Mark Maltais at Rolling Stone magazine this month. I used FW acrylic inks, watercolor pencil and digital nuance to create the image. Some fun!
Sketch: Trying for hierarchy, calligraphic brush work, chiaroscuro, triangular composition, good spacing and scale of the ovals and ellipses, foreground, middle ground, back ground, good abstract light shapes, good black ink composition and fiery energy.
Process: Calligraphic brush work, energy, and hierarchy of big black shapes to small black lines.
Final Art: Select light shapes, Rock concert lighting and garish, lurid, hellish color. Rock on!
Tear Sheet: Nothing like a good old fashioned, well designed tear sheet and the smell of ink on paper.
Growing an Illustration
Idea Sketch
I like to draw. As a teacher / professor of illustration at an Art & Design college, I am interested in giving students an effective, and simple approach to creating an illustration. I am attempting to find a way around the anxiety of "building" an illustration, while understanding the importance of creating a "finished" image.  My strategy is to "grow" the image.

We learn to draw at school by practicing observational drawing.  We draw from the human figure.  Other than the art model, no reference necessary.  But that is not the case in many illustration assignments. So, beyond drawing, I tell the students to find, or create good reference. Also, we read and scrutinize short stories by authors such as John Cheever, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Flannery O'Connor.  We also exchange ideas about narrative composition and abstract design.

Here is an illustration I recently painted for Forbes magazine.  It was a story about the abduction, or kidnapping of wealthy businessmen around the world.

I used FW acrylic inks, on BFK Rives printmaking paper.  The inks are permanent, so I can work dark to light.  And unlike watercolor paper, BFK Rives does not need to be stretched.

I've included the initial "idea" sketch. Here, the only reference is the actual businessman's face. Everything else is from my imagination. The second image is a photo comp.  This is how I create my reference. I gather disparate images from the usual on-line sources, my own scrap file, or photographs I shoot using myself, or my neighbors as models. The next image is a "value" sketch, drawn from the photo comp that attempts to coalesce the various pieces of reference into one synthesized picture.

After that, there are 5 images.  I scanned the finished illustration at 5 arbitrary stages, attempting to show how the illustration grows on the page.  There are no pencil lines that precede the brush lines. I did measure once or twice, using the "face" of the abducted, as a standard unit of measurement. This was necessary to address the pre-set proportions of the composition.

Finally, I hope this attempt at clarity does not come off as condescending.  I realize that each of us creates work in our own unique, and idiosyncratic way.  That "is" the point. What I like to emphasize with my students is this; drawing the figure, drawing on location, or drawing an illustration for a magazine can be very similar as a drawing experience, and very exciting in a highly focused kind of way.
Photo Comp
Value Sketch
Stage 1
Stage 2
Stage 3
Stage 4
Stage 5
Stage 6
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