Nautical Band illustration for Lilla Rogers June bootcamp

This month the Lilla Rogers bootcamp brief was to create a square piece of wall art with a nautical theme. In my last post you can see my Pinterest inspiration board and sketches, check it out if you missed it. Once I decided on the concept for the brief there was only a few nights left before the deadline so I went with the same process from my previous project: start drawing vectors with my rough sketch imported in iDraw, export to illustrator to refine, then paste into Photoshop and apply textures. I could start directly in Illustrator but doing it on the iPad eases me in the project, and it's quick and comfortable to do while watching TV on the couch! 

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In parallel with this bootcamp project I am taking a monotype printing class and that week was all about stamping tools, meaning whatever we can find in the house that makes an interesting impression. With no time to print I'm falling a bit behind on the class but seeing photos posted by my classmates in the facebook group was very inspiring. I started looking at everything as a possible stamping tool. Including the cantaloupe on my kitchen counter!  It gave me the idea of turning it into beautiful seaweed :). 

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As the month's treat Lilla gave us aqua and putty inspiration for the color palette. My favorite in the images she shared was this necklace with blues, greens, neutrals and pops of orange. After working on the octopus, crab and jellyfish I felt it needed one more character so I added the seahorse. Since he has no "hands", the easiest thing was to make him a singer. I can just imagine him singing with a very suave voice like Elvis, accompanied by the intense octopus drummer, the very chill jellyfish chick guitar player and shaky shaky tambourine man-crab. Haha. 

With a canvas as large as 24" the concept from my sketch felt a little empty so I went on a google images exploration to find more elements to add. Something I learned while working on the May bootcamp project was to give more depth to my illustration by creating an environment for my characters. Spaces and environments is something I thought a lot about while working in architecture and I'm happy I can put this period of my life to good use again.

The  octopus would need something to sit on and the crab also can't just float like this, he's better standing  on a surface. And seahorses usually have to hang on to something otherwise they drift in the current. So I added rocks at the bottom and looked for some coral and other sea creatures.

I'm always fascinated by what lives underneath the ocean and looks totally alien. Bottom left image, what is that with the weird pattern and legs, an octopus? So strange and beautiful! The legs look like a tree or some kind of fractal. I decided to draw parts of it and use them as coral. I traced a couple anemones, the turtle and the cute jellyfish I drew with vectors.

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I spent some time drawing the anemones thinking I could have a whole bunch somewhere on the rocks but once I put it in it didn't work, too much details compared to everything else. At least it wasn't all wasted:  I kept one as the accessory for my girly jellyfish. 

Besides a couple photoshop pattern overlays the textures below are all that was used for my final artwork. It seems all simple and easy now but while working I must try about twenty textures for each element before I make my choice! Ok, maybe I exaggerate a little ;). The six ones on the top are my handmade textures and the three below are from the web: the wood is from pixeden.com, the watercolor I downloaded from sadmonkeydesign, and the ink texture is from a package called InkBuddie I purchased on Creative Market. I also used some of the amazing brushes from Kyle's Pro Design Tools to draw details like the characters features and seahorse bubbles. A real time saver! 

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Below is the final illustration with everything in it. Since I had so many other things going in this month I didn't think I would have time to submit a piece. But it really is motivating to have a bunch of people doing the same brief at the same time. I took the approach of trying my best but not panic if I couldn't make the Sunday morning deadline. Friday night I had barely the characters completed and two events happening on Saturday. I stayed up until 4am but I was calm and detached instead of stressed, and somehow it worked out, amazingly. Maybe from now on I'll take this attitude every time! 

If you have a chance, check out the gallery on Lilla's website, there is a ton of fabulous work this month! 

PS: I'm on page 5, somewhere in the middle (the image I posted to the gallery is a little more muted. I  tweaked it a bit more after having uploaded the image).