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...So here’s how I go about my work:

It all starts with ideas. Lots of ideas. Lots of nasty little thumbnail sketches about 1-2 inches high. I like to sit on the couch in my studio with a pencil and paper for this stage. There’s something more fluid about actually drawing and hearing the scratch of pencil on paper that just isn’t the same drawing digitally. I work out a bunch of ideas, the sight angles (where the viewer is standing in relation to the scene) and composition at this stage.

First Process Image

Once I have an idea and a composition that seems to work, I scan it into Photoshop and enlarge it. I gather reference photos or images to help define details, clothing folds or just because I like the lighting or colour palette. I’m careful about copyright issues and shoot many of my own reference shots. If I use outside sources I use pieces from multiple sources or a photo as inspiration for the illustration.

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Then I start drawing the details either on tracing paper or digitally. I use Photoshop and/or Painter for this. I like Painter’s pencils better - for now.

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Usually each piece of an illustration is on a separate layer so I can independently resize and move stuff around to (hopefully) improve the illustration. Generally, this stage takes me a few hours to a day. Some of my very complex drawings may take a few days to draw.

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Sometimes I do a value study and digitally paint in the lights and darks to get a better sense of lighting. I rarely do colour studies because it feels like I’m painting the same thing twice. Besides, I can always change things since I work digitally. With "undo" commands and multiple versions of a painting, I can try all kinds of combinations. In this painting I changed the colour of Mom’s dress a few times. I find that painting digitally has made me more fearless in trying dramatic changes.

I layer and build up the colour to achieve the right intensity and rich transparency. In traditional painting I use watercolour, even though it looks like oil. I also paint the same way digitally: building up the colour gradually with transparent layers. (The apron has five transparent colours to create the shadows).

I paint and complete one section at a time (even when I paint traditionally), I always work this way. It establishes the depth of highlights and shadows for the rest of the painting.

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I also make a point to draw the edges of shapes with customized brushes so there aren’t any “digitally precise” edges. (Look at the edges of the door and how this resembles coloured pencil). My objective is to achieve those imperfections that occur in traditional painting and NOT to look like a slick digital creation.

This painting took about three days from start to finish.

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