She’s Filing Her Nails While They’re Draggin’ the Lake

Continuing my New Wave lyrics series, this is one of my all-time faves. I thought it would be fun to break down my process for you on this one.

Most of the time, I’ll do a rough pencil sketch to lay everything out before I start illustrating. In this case, I’d been carrying around this scene in my head for decades, so I already knew exactly how it would look. In my head, it was done a long time ago.

Still, I like to block things out, so I did a photo collage just to see how it would all fit together in the space I had (4 x 5).

You can see how spare it all is. Most of it is still in my head.

Then I start building my drawing. For this series, I know how thick I want my finished lines to be, but in this stage I like to work on stuff at .25 point size with the pen tool. It’s very geometric and boring. I’ll fill in a little color here and there just to get a view of how it will look later.

At this point, I took a break. Everything is drawn, but it looks terrible. The colors are all wrong, for example. In my head, she’s sitting in a totally dark room except for the light of the TV, so this obviously doesn’t work at all – well, for me, anyway. Another artist might use this as a stylistic choice so i won’t call it wrong, but for what was in my head it was very wrong. So I left it for the day.

Why did I choose purple? I’ll tell you. I don’t know. I just like it. But I committed myself to that color as the backdrop and went with it for the shading. Except for the Old Fashioned and glass, because part of this series is working in a mostly monochrome space and adding a splash of bright color to juxtapose it all.

For final touches I use my Wacom tablet and pressure-sensitive brush. These details are the part I love, it brings it back out of the computer for me and looks more like what I would paint on wood or paper. It’s more human, less digital.

That’s it! I hope you enjoyed seeing my process. If you have any questions, I’d love to answer them in the comments below, on twitter, or by email.

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