Monday, 18 March 2013

Trickster Poster Illustration

A few months ago I was working on a drawing for storyteller Dominic Kelly and his new multi-layered storytelling show 'Trickster'. Below is a process post for the image.


I spoke with Dominic on Skype and he sent me a video of a scratch night where he had told his Trickster work in progress to a small audience. From that the first concept images were drawn, digitally, it was the mood I was in at the time. Dominic's story is of a character who lies and cheats his way around England and Scotland at the start of the 20th Century and has elements based on Percy Topliss "The Monocled Mutineer". The show is much more than that and involves a lot of elements of the historic and mythical that can only work in a room with a great storyteller in control.

In conversation with Dominic there was mention of a close up of the character and I came up with the idea of masks for the characters devious moods. Dominic wanted the image to engage the audience more and suggested him winking, there were also concerns of him being dressed in an army uniform as defining the character with the military a bit too much. 

With the power of Photoshop I was able to sketch in a costume change for the Trickster. Although the image was working there was now a concern that it was coming away from the original idea a bit and so the decision to go back to running through cobbled streets was made. There was also the suggestion that the mythical and dream elements in the story should be associated with the Trickster, so a fox and a crow were included. Finally there was a composition coming through that all parties were happy with.

By now I was coming out of my digital drawing phase, staring at a screen for too long hurts my eyes. I was working on a few other things at the time, The Cordwainer illustrations and the Civic Society Diary Pages and was very happy using dip pen and ink and found that I had lost the urge to draw with a computer. It happens like that sometimes, although my drawing Mojo is a fickle thing sometimes I do trust it.


Direct drawings done in dip pen and ink. For some reason, I like to think it's intuition, I decided to flip the direction in which the characters are running, for me it made the image a bit more dynamic. I wanted to do as much as I could by hand and keep the Photoshop element of making the image to a minimum.

The ink drawing hand coloured with watercolour and a Pental Water Brush.

Foreground characters ready to be scanned and 'mixed' in with the background elements. I have cleaned up the white space around the characters to make selection later on a bit easier.

Background street scene drawn and coloured in the same way as the fore ground elements.

These scenes were drawn from old photo reference found on the internet.

A Crow.

Special effects.

Different bits of drawing are scanned in and comped together in Photoshop, knocking back the background so the characters are not lost in my squiggly drawing style. I had not used Adobe Bridge to any great extent at this point but found it a great way of keeping track of sketches and drawings and reference to drag in.

Nearly there. A few tweaks made here and there with the colours and a few digital effects thrown in for atmosphere and the image was ready for client approval.

Finished Art

Dominic liked the image a lot and with one last edit to make the crow look more complicit in the proceedings the illustration was signed off.

For more information on the show have a look at the 3monkeys website.