Lilla Roger's May Bootcamp assignment: Editorial illustration

For this month's assignment we are illustrating an article from the Huffington Post, How to Meditate: A Primer for People Who Don't Like to Meditate. That's why we were drawing people and faces for the mini assignment! More particularly dolls, probably because it's less intimidating than real people, and to try out different ways to stylize features. For the big assignment Lilla suggested to start by writing down things that came to mind when reading the article the first time, then imagine scenes from the title, subtitles or phrases in the text.

There's a passage in the article I thought was interesting, it explained a lot of us maybe avoid meditation because once we quiet our minds and go within it reveals deep down what we really need. Like a hug, apologizing to a friend or maybe even just a calming bath. I could draw those things inside a figure and have donut and phone flying away with wings, maybe have water in the bottom.

But people work so fast in this group, before I even got started I saw a host of similar concepts popping up on Facebook and I preferred to come up with different ideas.

In another passage from the article the author describe how her mom used to take her as a teenager to the Koreatown temple in Los Angeles. Maybe because I live in LA, it was easy to imagine a scene of the two women walking to the temple while she's much more interested in the cool places on the street rather than going to sit quietly with a few monks. I'll take any excuse to draw LA's wacky architecture! But I wasn't sure though that it would be the best way to represent the article.

Then I came across this picture of a row of chairs and it gave me the idea for illustrating the beginning of the article where she's in a mindfulness conference and she's hoping her phone is vibrating to have an excuse to go outside and avoid the meditation. I had thought of this scene before and the vertical format was giving me trouble but with the chairs arranged like that it could work. I was a bit torn between the two concepts but felt this one was more appropriate for the article.

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This time instead of scanning ink drawings then converting to vectors I decided to draw the vectors directly. A classmate mentioned the iPad app iDraw and I wanted to try it out, get some more use out of my tablet. It works pretty much like Illustrator, and somehow drawing the shapes with it felt less intimidating to me. From there it's easy to export as an SVG file and open in Illustrator to refine details. Now I see the importance of developing a good drawing to work from, cause my sketch was a bit rough lol. Big eyes, too small a face and skull, she looked funny. The other characters too I ended up tweaking quite a bit for the final drawing.

Once in the computer I played around with layout and textures, trying to make the background look like a hotel conference room with wacky patterns. It looked too busy, and maybe not necessary to fit the title in there. Then Lilla gave us a color palette to work with: 50 shades of blues! We were to make a grid with all different blues but I had too much to do with the assignment. Some people did fun stuff with it though, like my classmate Nelleke, check it out she made a fabulous dress out of the blue grid.

Gradually in my evenings throughout the week I added textures and refined the background and people. But I wasn't still quite sure what to do with the stuff over her head. Also a friend I showed it to thought it looked a bit cramped in there, perhaps I should add a window or something, push to the wall back. Hum. Very good suggestions. I can't believe the difference it made once I added the door and glass panels. With the exit door, no need for the stuff over the head, phew problem solved!

This is what's fun about illustration, I get to do interior design again! And fashion too. Dressing up the people with textures is my favorite thing. So much that I'm going to write a blog post next just about that :).

With much fiddling with skin tones, trying my hand at shading with photoshop brushes,  and adding colored pencil details, here's the final result above I submitted to Lilla's May gallery (on page 4 at the bottom). Boy I think I worked on this even harder than all my MATS A assignments. Not yet at the stage when I'm working smarter and less hard! It was a fun enriching experience though. Forgot to mention my favorite illustrators I discovered this week and the few weeks past: Ryo Takemasa, Chiara Armellini, Sarah Walsh, and Ana Ventura, among others. I gravitate towards their clean styles with rich textures. Ok now I think that's it for this packed blog post! Hope you enjoyed it.