To back up the last post – Santa Claus is on our minds as Christmas is approaching! Here are some more great Santa illustrations by John Walker!
John Walker recently illustrated a very unique view of world champion skier Mikaela Shiffrin, for the soon to be published book from Sports Illustrated Kids – “All New Access, Your Behind-the-Scenes Pass to the Coolest Things in Sports.” John created artwork that will print on an otherwise clear page, and overlay the client supplied photo of the skier. His illustration will provide readers with a graphic representation of internal system functions, like muscle and lung activity, that are involved when an athlete is engaged in intense competition.
It appears that several companies have re-introduced famous icons of their company that were very popular decades ago. This is a good example – H.J. Heinz Mr. Aristocrat Tomato Man! He was originally created in the 1930’s and our client had John create a new illustration very similar to the original to be used for various purposes. A classy guy!
When talking to clients about my work as an illustrator, one of the most frequently asked questions is how I go about painting assignments digitally. So here is a step by step procedural, taking a painting from initial drawing to fully rendered, final art.
Santa Claus has been a frequent illustration subject over the years and I have several different treatments of Santa figures drawn up in my sketchbook. I chose one of those to use as the basis for this demo.
Nearly all of my work begins with a traditional pencil on paper drawing. The drawing gets scanned into my system and opened in Photoshop, where it can be cleaned up and adjusted. I like to work on a toned background, so I import a favorite backdrop and use it as a base layer. The drawing layer, now floating above the Background, is changed to a Multiply layer style, made to look like a sepia ink drawing, and the opacity is lowered to 50%.
I move the art to Painter, which I like to use for it’s natural look and feel. I create a new layer, between the canvas pencil layers, and paint in some basic values with an airbrush tool. A background is created to give Santa an environment to stand in.
On another new layer, I begin to lay in local color. I like Painter’s Chalk and Pastel brush categories and use them often, here with Flat Cover on basic paper settings, to give a firmer edge. I like to work over the entire painting at the same time, moving between background and foreground.
Color block-in continues. I want some texture in the illustration, so I use Painter’s Square Chalk brush variant with a heavily textured paper setting on the walls. The drawing remains the top layer acting as a blueprint to keep everything on track.
When the basics are laid down I begin to refine the painting, adding color and rendering form. The moon is added outside the window as a source for some rim light on Santa.
At this point I am far enough along that I can collapse most of the layers into one. I always make a duplicate of the drawing layer first, in case I need to use it as a reference point later on. I usually work with as few layers as practical. This allows the painting tools to interact in a much more natural, traditional media, way.
A view of trees and snow outside gives Santa a winter setting, and the diamond pattern adds an Old World look to the window.
All that’s left now are a few details. Santa gets some overstuffed pockets, the wall gets a trim board, a bit of flash here and there, some minor tweaks, and the painting is complete.
John creates artwork for advertising, editorial, and publishing clients using a variety of traditional and digital media. Completed assignments range from point of purchase displays, magazine ads, board games, children’s books, ebooks etc. Many of his projects involve painting people in a representative style, along with animals/dinosaur art using both a realistic and anthropomorphic approach. He paints regularly with traditional methods, mixed media/acrylic on board, but most illustration projects are painted digitally using Photoshop and Corel Painter.