Working Traditionally - For WIRED

A few months ago WIRED magazine got in touch with a very cool commission. I thought I’d run through the process here.

The main challenge with this piece was that for the whole issue, every illustrator was asked to work in traditional media. No computers allowed. (Well, some allowances were made. I don’t think anyone wanted to start sending work via the post.)

First things first:

THE ROUGHS.

The article was a short piece on speaking with confidence in public. So after making some mess in a sketchbook or two, I drew up these roughs:

  1 - Based on a line in the article: Public speaking is like a musical instrument, everyone can learn with enough practise.”

1 - Based on a line in the article: Public speaking is like a musical instrument, everyone can learn with enough practise.”

 3 -  A drawing of two realities - the confident, comfortable speaker. And the Nervous, fumble-y speaker.

3 - A drawing of two realities - the confident, comfortable speaker. And the Nervous, fumble-y speaker.

  2 - A direct narrative approach - a confident charismatic speaker.

2 - A direct narrative approach - a confident charismatic speaker.

  4 - Playing on the idea of imagining the audience in their underwear. Whilst it wasn’t a technique referenced in the article it’s a common enough concept that most viewers would make the leap with just the image.

4 - Playing on the idea of imagining the audience in their underwear. Whilst it wasn’t a technique referenced in the article it’s a common enough concept that most viewers would make the leap with just the image.

Once these Ideas were sent and reviewed, we moved forward with the third idea, but with a female speaker.

THE FINAL ARTWORK:

I knew I was going to approach this image with a focus on the ink work. I could achieve the two coloured drawings by inking each figure in a different colour of ink - that bit was easy to figure out. But, I knew I wanted the image to look a little more ‘finished’ than just a 2 colour line drawing.

If I was approaching this image digitally, I might have used a texture from a library of scans/photos I’ve made and collected over the years. I would have applied a colour to the texture layer and then used a layer mask to erase it away under the main drawing.

So, how to do this traditionally? Make a physical layer mask of course! (I’m aware there are probably better ways to do this. It was interesting to learn how dependent my process is on the computer, and how little I knew what to do!)

Cutting a thick sheet of acetate to create the negative space in the background layer. If you’re following along Blue Peter style, this bit hurts your fingers…

The completed ‘layer mask’ ready for printing. Once this was ready and taped down I mixed up some different types and colours of paint and lightly rolled it over a few different paper stocks until I’d made an appropriate amount of mess and had ….

Here it is in situ in WIRED:

Apologies for the poor process shots, I didn’t think of doing this blog post until afterwards. It was lucky I had these shots really.

Thanks to Mary Lees for the Art Direction on this one!