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Mixed Messages

AUGUST 7, 2007
The final illustration will run across the top of the page. It's about how the US government sometimes sends conflicting advice to people about investing in their retirement accounts.
Here's a job I recently completed. I'll share a little of the process that went into it. It was for Plansponsor Magazine which is art directed by SooJin Buzelli.
I made five sketches in Corel Painter over a layered file of SooJin's layout. Here are a few of the better ones. No paper was harmed in the making of this illustration!
Is it time to harvest, OR NOT? Strange fruit!
The approved sketch. It started out as the rapid orange digital airbrush then a few details added in pen or pencil.
I created vectors for all the shapes in Freehand MX (still Macromedia) and a grabbed a few colors from the sketch that I liked.  I've used Freehand since the 1980's and am proficient in it's use. As I've said before however, the end is clearly in sight and I have started to make the begrudging switch to Adobe Illustrator. I love the terse and efficient nature of vectors as a basic conceptual underpinning of working digitally.
Texture has become an addictive thing lately though and the added bitmaps bulk up the files more than I generally like. But, the addition of 1-bit textures also allows for striking color combinations and reminds me of silk-screen or other printmaking processes which I love.
Over a rasterized gray scale copy of a draft of the image (150 dpi), I started painting textures with Painter's Liquid Ink tools. Liquid Ink is great for making dirty, scratched scrawls. I work in solid black. I then flatten the image back in Photoshop and drag the resulting 1-bit tiffs into Freehand, make the white transparent and assign various colors to the black pixels.
Here's a close up view of the textures created with Painter's Liquid Ink tool. These Uncle Sam characters reminded me of Randy Enos A LOT. I kept dancing around this fact and tried to make it my own yet acknowledge in some way the energy and signature quality Randy gets in all his illustrations.
Here are some details of the final piece. I go back and forth trying out different color strategies.
As usual, Plansponsor was a dream to work for. Thanks!
Have you paid your quarterly taxes??
Often times, I feel like this guy!
Topical: work