Monday, December 26, 2016

My Illustration Process: From Start to Finish!

Since I love seeing how other artists create, 
I thought it would be fun to share my illustration process 
from start to finish...

My process always begins with sketching.  At this stage, I'm trying to get a feel for the character(s), the movement, and the expressions.  I also like to try and develop a rough plan for the layout of the page(s).

Next, I create more finished drawings based on my original sketches, but making adjustments as needed.  I create these drawings on plain old copy paper (but in the size the final artwork will be in).

After my my layout is set and my drawings are complete, I use my light box to trace my drawings onto 140lb. watercolor paper.  When my original drawings have been transferred, I use a dark brown prismacolor pencil to lay in my underlying values.  (I want to get a base down so that I can see where darks, lights, shadows, and highlights will go.)

When I finish my colored pencil layer, I cover the images with clear gesso and let that dry.  Then, I put on a wash of burnt sienna fluid acrylic.  This layer adds warmth and depth to the final painting that would be difficult to achieve if I left those areas white.

Now the fun really begins... I start adding color (using acrylic paint).  I start by painting the areas that would be furthest away (in the background), then moving to areas that are closer to the viewer (in the foreground).  
I build up my paint in layers, starting with darker values and gradually lightening them.  Not only does this allow for smooth blending, it gives the final painting more depth.

(It was at this point that I accidentally dipped my sleeve into my palette and smeared it across the page as I was working. 
I don't recommend that!  Hahaha!)

When I'm adding color, I try to avoid using paint straight from the tube.  I use a porcelain enamel butcher's tray palette and mix my paints directly on the smooth surface.  Once I've mixed my colors, I transfer them to folded damp paper towels.  (This keeps them workable for a long time.)  If I spritz my paints with water and cover my palette with plastic wrap, I can use the paints I've mixed for days.  (Also, the porcelain surface is great for easy clean-up!)

I keep building on previous layers, moving around the painting (avoiding working on any one particular area for too long).  The final step is to add the last little details and the whitest whites.

(Actually, the final step for this painting was fixing my "oops" paint smear digitally!)

I hope you've found this start to finish look at my illustration process helpful...
See you in 2017!


  1. Thanks for explaining your process!

  2. With all that work no wonder they show so well!!!
    Happy new year!

  3. I love seeing your process and picked up a few pointers too, thanks!

  4. This is very neat to see laid out like this. That's a lot of steps and work but the end result is beautiful.

  5. Seeing the steps, details and processes, helps to truly appreciate what makes a Real artist! Thank you Kristin.

  6. i've learned some things about working with acrylics!! thanks for showing your process!

  7. love seeing how other artists work, thank you sharing :D

  8. Wow! Thanks so much for sharing that. I plan on doing more drawing and paining in 2017.

  9. Lots of great tips here and sun to see your process. Thanks for sharing. Hope you are having Happy Holidays!


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