Monday, August 23, 2010

Runner's World Portraits

The 2010 Runner's World Fall Shoe Guide is out, and I drew some little portraits of the folks that test and report the performance of different running shoes. Drawing these little portraits is fun and quick. One detail Art Director Marc Kauffman likes me to add, is to match the colors in the portraits to the full page feature illustration that opens the Fall Shoe Guide. The original inkings are about 5 -6 inches tall, and the background texture is guache.

Peter Vuong - Runner's World Wear Tester. Illustration: Graham Smith

John  - Runner's World Wear Tester. Illustration: Graham Smith

Karon Klipple - Runner's World Wear Tester. Illustration: Graham Smith

The trick is to NOT draw lots of detail in really small portraits, but to rely on the large, basic shapes to carry the likeness. The shape of the head, the hair, the shape of the mouth, and the relationship to the size of the eyes are key areas to scrutinize while trying to craft simple little portraits.

I draw quickly and try to resist the urge to go back into the drawings and "fix" things. The drawings always seem a bit stale when I do that. It's better to keep the drawings brisk and fresh, than to overwork them with correctness. Funner too!

Runner's World illustrations by Graham Smith

These portraits are inked with 513 nib using Black Cat india ink on Aquabee Super Deluxe Sketchbook, 93 lb paper. The under drawing is done with a non -repro blue pencil. I don't erase the under drawing or try to hide it. I like to leave the process marks in each illustration. They seem more handmade that way.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Seized: Kidnapping Illustration

"Siezed" illustration by Graham Smith

Seized: Inside the Brutal World of America's Kidnapping Capital

Art Director Peter Storch called with an assignment to illustrate a story for the Phoenix New Times about immigration horror stories occurring throughout the American Southwest - brutal stories about human trafficking by men called "coyotes" and their victims, known as "pollos". 

"A man with wavy, black hair and a pale face can be seen lying on his side, a semi-automatic weapon just inches from his head. A coyote's hand is pushing down the man's head to keep him from moving. The victim's eyes are squeezed tightly shut. For a moment, he opens them — wide — and the horror is unmistakable. The gun still in his face, he squeezes his eyes shut. His lips are moving rapidly (there is no sound on the video). He opens and closes his eyes a second time. The hand that is holding down the victim's head suddenly goes up in the air, and — crack! — a fist slams into the side of the man's head, ripping the skin near his ear. Blood oozes down his temple. The video ends." Monica Alonzo

We both wanted the Phoenix New Times cover illustration to look iconic, bold and dramatic. The story by Monica Alonzo, had not been written yet by the time I got the assignment, but I had to begin sketching right away. A few of the rough pencil sketches can be seen below.

thumbnail sketches

pencil sketch

To develop the pencil sketch and figure out how a snarling coyote looks, I drew the coyote a bit larger than the finished cover would print. I wanted the pencil strokes in the sketch to be large and energetic, to match the brush strokes I intended to use for the final inking. So, I busted out a giant 6b woodless graphite pencil. I could draw vigorously with that and cover a lot of ground at the same time.

Using a #8 brush on Strathmore 90 lb paper,  I inked the coyote twice, slightly differently each time, and layered the colors in Photoshop to achieve movement and depth in the coyotes fur.

Since the story was set to run at the end of July, in Phoenix, Arizona, I decided to make the background color saturated yellow and orange - the color of Phoenix's searing desert heat. I often hinge the colors in an illustration to the season in which they appear.

I finished the illustration off and sent it to Phoenix.

"Siezed" color proof, pencil sketch and original inking - Graham Smith Illustration

"Siezed" by Graham Smith Illustration

A Judge put an injunction on Arizona's controversial new the immigration law, SB 1070, the day before the Coyote Kidnapping story was set to print. The story and cover illustration got bumped to mid August.

During that time, the L.A. Weekly, Denver Westword, the Dallas Observer and a few other magazines decided they may pick the story up too. I just got word from Art Director Andrew Nilsen, that "Siezed" will be picked up by the SF Weekly and printed this week, too.

However, some of the magazines are newsprint, and couldn't print the saturated yellows and oranges that the glossies can. They wanted to know, could I change the background color to meet the printing specs of the added cities?

Together, Art Director Peter Storch and I knocked together a few new color backgrounds and submitted them to the Art Directors at each of the respective magazines for their last minute input.

On print day, the L.A. Weekly ran the black and white version on the cover, and the black version ran on covers in Phoenix, Denver, Dallas and San Francisco. The original version is the orange one, above.

Seized: Phoenix New Times. Design: AD Peter Storch, LA Weekly. Design: AD Jason Jones. Illustration: Graham Smith

SF Weekly Art Director: Andrew Nilsen, illustration: Graham Smith

LA Weekly "Seized" interior illustration: Graham Smith

"Seized": illustration (detail) as printed on newsprint.

This illustration "Seized" an Award. Read more here.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Life Drawing - Robert

Robert sat for a 2 hour pose at last nights Life Drawing Workshop. I used a range of brown colored pencils for this drawing, Indian Red, Light Brown and Terracotta on 18 x 24, 100 lb Strathmore.

I sharpen a giant fistful of each color before I start drawing, that way I don't waste any time sharpening them while the model is posing. 18 x 24 is a lot of ground to cover with a small pencil, so they get used up very quickly, especially on a toothy drawing paper.

Robert (detail) by Graham Smith
Robert (detail) by Graham Smith

Before I start a more serious drawing, I have to get warmed up. Usually, 10 x 2 minute poses, drawn briskly, and with energy gets me loosened up and starting to see. For the quick warm up drawings of Robert, below, I draw with a graphite stick about the size of a thumbdrive on 18 x 24, Canson "Biggie" Sketch paper.

I like the graphite sticks for the wide ranging vocabulary of marks it can make, sharp thin lines, thick chunky lines, soft smooth tones. What's nice is you can do all this without stopping to sharpen the graphite stick, it smudges less than charcoal, and the tip won't break off if you draw vigorously, like I do.

Quick sketches by Graham Smith

Bookmark and Share

Monday, August 9, 2010

Life Drawing - Briana

Briana by Graham Smith.

Briana posed for this quick, colored pencil drawing at the life drawing workshop hosted by Dzu Nguyen, on Tuesday nights. I drew this on 18 x 24 paper during the last 20 minutes of the session.

Briana (detail) by Graham Smith

Bookmark and Share
Related Posts with Thumbnails