The process and idea behind this piece started out from a time in my life when I was a lot more sharing my artwork because I would only see the flaws in it. Whilst I do still worry about my work I am less concerned now with criticism and feedback I get from it. The image represents me literally sticking my head under a rock pretending I am a working artist without showing anyone anything I do.
The be more proactive imagery was originally going to be how I would procrastinate and doing other things whilst telling myself the minimal amount of work was enough. I moved this onto an older mindset I had described above because I thought the less literal rock piece would be more interesting.
The Tangent phase
The ‘sticking my head under a rock’ phrase fit with proactive and created the top image but under the more cumbersome ‘can’t sell your work if you don’t show it to anyone heading’. I realised after I made it and flicking through my book that it fit with the idea of being more proactive and being an interesting image at the same time.
The next phase was to use reference imagery to refine the ideas from my head I put in the rough sketch. I went through the different components I wanted to include individually deciding what shapes worked best and giving myself a few different options on what I could include on the final piece. I planned to use vectors to create the piece so tried to stick with simple shapes. The exception with simple shapes to me was the skull and the chains on the rock. The skull I had made one before so I wasn’t too worried but the chains were something I initially thought would be complex and fiddly but turned out to be quite simple to do.
Before I went into the vector stage I wanted to get some colour down so I didn’t need to worry about it as much layer and could just tweak it as needed. Things moved around a little bit from the rough stage and the rock itself widened, The eyes were also added underneath the rock to show it was about a person hiding rather than just a rock. The rest of the imagery represents the isolation and paranoia of the person (me I guess) underneath such as a tin foil hat, various keep out themed signs, chains keeping me in place and the sharpened sticks and barbed wire. From here I scanned this piece in to use as a template in Adobe Illustrator.
I placed the largest vectors down using a mixture of the pen tool and the shape tools (used on all the shapes that aren’t the chains or barbed wire) I kept the colours close to what I did in the watercolour piece adding green on the landmines because I didn’t colour them before. The shaded areas of the piece were done using the pathfinder tools intersect function to cleanly add new colours within existing vectors. I used this method on the largest flat areas whilst simply using a couple of different coloured shapes on smaller pieces. I felt the smaller pieces didn’t need as much intricate detail as it wouldn’t be seen and a couple of different colours would be enough to make them interesting when viewing.
The signs were one of the flat areas I felt benefited from colour variance. The shading used brings the pieces closer to the colours of the rock bringing the piece together but the brighter pieces at the top and the images on them allow them to stand out at the same time. The skull was made using a template from a design I used on a Zeitgeist leaflet I designed earlier in the year. It is missing the crossbones and I gave it different teeth and a slightly more uneven edge line to make it look different.
The wire and chains were made using the paintbrush tool with the exception of the large chain rings which were made using the circle tool and the minus front function to remove the center from the pathfinder panel. I used the paintbrush tool because it allows you to create a free flowing thin line easier than the more rigid feel of the pen tool. It is also more convenient to use when adding the smaller details such as the barbs on the wire fence and the final appearance looks non uniformed like barbed wire would be.
The final thing I did within illustrator was add a gradient on the darkest brown sand layer to represent a more realistic shadow underneath the rock where I am hiding. It also adds a more subtle variance that a shadow would create rather than the sudden change in colours that the rest of the shadows are.
After this section was done I exported the piece onto photoshop along with the watercolour template allowing me to keep the texture and add more in with access to the individual layers still.
The first thing I did in photoshop was add a texture to the hat to try and make it more obvious that it is a tin foil hat rather than just a vaguely triangle shape. The texture on the piece is actually a paper texture I scanned in that I have used a couple of times. It was applied as a masking layer to the shape of the hat and then shadows were painted on in photoshop to represent the colours around it reflecting on the foil. The sharper contrasts in colour this gives makes it look slightly reflective and closer to foil than just the vector did.
The final stage in photoshop and on the piece was to clean up the lines that I didn’t want from the template. To do this I set the hardness on the eraser tool to its lowest so that as little as the texture around the removed lines was lost. This also left very edges of the black drawn line on the piece adding an additional texture if I wished to keep it. After getting rid of the lines I wanted I added some darker colours using the brush tool in places, the most obvious being the shadow underneath where I made the top most bit darker. The final piece I think is one of the more successful mixes of digital and traditional media pieces I have done. The pieces came together more smoothly than they usually do.
Whilst looking for inspiration for parts of my own poster I stumbled across the posters of Michael Thomson on his partners blog. I took interest in the work at the time when I was trying to think up colour schemes to use, something I have been struggling with because I kept limiting myself to a very limited palette in the red, green and yellow typically associated with reggae.
This work uses its imagery to convey the reggae theme rather than only relying on the colour. In contrast I think my work will need some of the reggae colour, not that this is a bad thing but seeing this is convincing me to think outside of these and not dismiss other colour schemes completely.
Something else I took from the images was the use of the texture within the figures, particularly the above two. The shape on my poster has a large flat surface in the middle which may benefit from this idea.