No ladies this isn't about sanitary towels ha ha :) Sorry! Crap joke over.
Okay in my last post I warned that I was going to milk my new illustration 'In Flight' as much as possible given the sheer amount of time and graft its taken. I want to use this extended blog post to show you how the image was created and share some more detailed pics of the illustration. I promise once this is out of my system I won't bore you to death and go on about it anymore ; )
The image was inspired by watching a nature documentary some time ago which explained how birds of prey navigate through the trees and the fly through dense forest. As you can imagine it was pretty impressive. I began by sketching the image out in pencil on A4 paper.
Once the pencil drawing was complete I hand traced owly in black fine liner and scanned this into the computer. The girl was left out at this stage as the original drawing of her was quite small so it didn't allow me to add much detail. Instead I opted to blow up the sketch of the girl on the Mac, print it out and work on this larger image. It could then shrunk back down later. After scanning the owl tracing the arduous task of refining the black outline began. This took around 6 hours - ouch >__< Once i was happy with the drawing of the girl, she was also traced in fine liner, scanned onto the computer and the outline refined. Then she was shrunk to her original diminutive size. Ta da! The completed outline:
At this point i managed to deceive myself into thinking that the main bulk of the work was done. Then realised adding the detail in the wings would be a MAMMOTH task. After experimenting it seemed the best way forward was to create a single detailed feather which I could copy, paste and manipulate to fit into each wing feather. The result was this:
Next was owly's body. An altogether different kettle of fish as i soon found the previous method used for the wings could not be applied to the body. Starting with the head first I copy pasted a less detailed feather tip in a circular pattern from the face outwards and used a similar process for the chest and legs but with the feathers more spaced out. The result wasn't that convincing as i didn't feel there was enough detail in the body and head compared to the wings making the style look inconsistent. So i tried applying a pre-made, fur-like texture (created for the Autumn Rain illustration) under the feather pattern. Thankfully it worked. Don't know what I would have done otherwise - cried probably. After adding colour the owl was finally done.
The girl was a LOT more straightforward. I added the colour, then some pattern/texture was pasted into her coat and tights - nice and quick. This was the complete foreground image:
Now all that was needed was a background. I suppose this should have been something I'd thought about when working on the sketch, but hey that would have been too easy. The composition of the owl & girl is arranged as if the viewer is looking up at them from below. This meant whatever was in the background had to be something that would be positioned above the characters ruling out anything on a ground level. Sky was an obvious choice but this would be quite plain on its own. After a brainstorming session mountains seemed the perfect fit.
Eh voila 'In Flight' was complete almost three weeks from when I'd started it - YIKES!!
Quite honestly a ridiculous amount of time to spend on an image. I swear it doesn't normally take me this long to finish a piece.
The illustration is now available on Etsy as an A4 size or larger A3 size glossy print.