Join Von Glitschka for an in-depth discussion in this video Developing initial mockups and combining them into a rough composite, part of Artist at Work: Native American Tribal Illustration.
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- So the first drawing I want to share with you is where the genesis of this project started. It all started as a thumbnail sketch, and this is the original thumbnail sketch, and when I do thumbnails it's whatever I have on hand at the time I'm inspired to draw something. In this case, it was an Indian chief wearing a headdress, and I wanted to turn this into a tribal design, and so this was kinda my initial thoughts regarding the composition, and I just drew this with a Paper Mate Flair pen, my pen of choice when it comes to sketching or drawing or doodling.
And so, this is where this design started. Now, moving from here to my initial sketch phase, the next thing I'm gonna show you is a process that I kinda learned and picked up from a creative director I worked with. So I'm gonna bring that in right here. And one thing that he used to do when we started working on certain types of projects, now it isn't something I do all the time, but it kinda depends on the timeline or the deadline for a project.
We'll make what he called "composition and proportion mock-ups." And it's not only to inspire us in terms of the shape and form, but also to use idealistic images in order to compose what we're trying to create. In this case, a chief from a profile view, wearing a headdress. And so what I did here is I just found an idealistic photograph, mocked it up in Photo Shop, took out the face of the person who was wearing it, and found a nice archival photograph that I mocked in, in order to kinda achieve the aesthetic I was going for.
And if you compare it with my sketch, you know, it pretty much aligns with what I had in mind to begin with. You're not copying a photo. This is just to guide my proportion and shape, and that speeds along the process as you'll see. So, it's at this point that I'll switch to a pencil, and I'll begin sketching. Now, I like to use vellum sheets like this, and I use 'em because they're not completely transparent, they're opaque.
So, it's a nice frosted surface and I can erase multiple times and it never mars the surface, and it makes drawing a lot easier. So, I also use a lot of overlays when I'm in the process of drawing. So in this case, I never draw this big initially as shown on the top. I usually draw about the size you see down here at the bottom, and that's what I did in this case. Now, I like to also use the same vellum to kinda slide in between other sheets to diffuse my light so it's not quite as bright, and that's what I did in this case.
So you can see here, is my initial sketches of tribal shapes in order to kinda form and compose this Indian chief here. And I'm being guided in terms of my shape and proportion of the underlying image, but it's really not, it's informing me on how to mimic things, not so much about copying those exact shapes because it's not a tribal style, it's a photograph, so it's about shape and form.
But, as I was looking at this, what I really liked in the sketch is this whole curve at the top of the headdress. And so this is where additional photo references should come into play. And so I went out, and I did some research and printed this sheet out just to guide me and give me visual cues as I was gonna start setting forward and drawing the rest of the headdress out here. And when I looked at the reference sheet with the different headdresses, I notice we had these nice curves where it arches from the front edge back to the back end, and you can see a curve up here.
So it's not really straight. Most of these have a nice bend and arch to it. So that kinda guided me as I moved forward, and you can see here I drew on a separate layer. I do this a lot too, where I kinda like how this is coming out, but I'm not sure about the feathers. So because I'm not sure, I usually draw on another sheet of vellum on top of it, in case I want to change my mind or explore different ways to handle these shapes. So, you can see here, I've continued to draw out all the feathers, and it doesn't align with the underlying photograph at all.
That was just to kinda guide me in terms of the proportion, and I've tried to work in a nice arch on the top here, and flow down, and I picked up those characteristics once again by referring to how they appear in the real world. And these are all photographs of real Native American headdresses, so you always want to refer and reference to the real, not another person's idealistic view of what something could look like.
So photographs are the way to go in terms of referencing. I continued to explore this where I wasn't sure about the face, so I tried it in a slightly different style. In this case, I didn't really like my new face, but I did like the other detailing efforts in terms of the front of the headdress, the brow of the headdress, and his ponytail, and the feather hanging down on the side. So, it's at this point, once I have most of my decisions being made, I'll go back through and I'll art direct myself and I'll make any changes in terms of the tribal style to my artwork, but I'll reference other artwork I've created in a tribal style, so here's a bear that I created.
Now, within my tribal illustration course, I provide an aesthetics guide shown here, and this will help you as you draw your own tribal designs. So this will give you cues on this style, so you can pull it off successfully. But what I usually do is I'll print out former designs I've done in this style, and then I'll go back through my sketch and I'll make little additions or add little details that kinda pick up on that style, and that's what I've done here.
- Developing mockups
- Taking a rough composite to a refined sketch
- Importing the sketch into Illustrator
- Drawing feathers
- Uniting vector shapes
- Colorizing the illustration