Here's a chance to see one of my paintings from start to finish. As a realistic illustrator, every step in my process is essential to bringing my illustrations to life. This solid foundation ensures that by the time I start painting, everything is already figured out. Then all I have to worry about is finishing the painting!
My first step is to create Thumbnail sketches. These are tiny sketches to experiment with different perspectives and variations of a scene. With nothing but my sketchbook and a pencil, I will go through numerous Thumbnails for each page.
Occasionally, I will then redraw all of my Thumbnails digitally. This allows for some easier adjusting and tweaking to each page. Here is my Thumbnail for my painting "Chopping."
Once every page is nailed down, I gather all my References. This can involve many different resources including sewing outfits, sculpting props, finding scenery, and hiring models. My background in photography has been an essential skill-set to have under my belt in this step.
As you may have noticed, all of my preliminary work is done digitally. My Cintiq is an amazing tool that helps me to create digital sketches with a traditional feel. Sketching digitally really allows me to be loose and make edits on the fly.
When working realistically, I often prefer to have a tight Value Study as well. Every painting should be just as strong in black and white as it will be in color. This also allows to me to refine any details that were unclear in my Loose Sketch.
I then use those Value Studies to create Color Comps. I will usually work up several different Color Comps for each page before I nail down certain color schemes. For this book, I imagined the kitchen scenes with dark blue backgrounds, that way the subjects would pop forward. By doing my Value Studies digitally, it allows me to easily overlay colors on top.
And now I'm ready to paint! After transferring my sketch onto my board, I do a loose acrylic block-in and then I starting painting in oils. All of my preliminary work helps me complete this final and most important step.
Making of "The Sparkle Egg"
For more behind-the scenes peeks, here's my first ever video showcasing the making of my latest children's book, "The Sparkle Egg". Covering five months of references, sketches, and painting this is merely a glimpse of my entire process from beginning to end.
Written by Jill Hardie
Illustrated by Christine Kornacki
Published by Ideals Children's Books, February 2014