The article I chose for this illustration was a critique on the overabundance of coin designs in the U.S. The author took issue with the fact that the U.S. mint has been on something of a design spat lately, coming out with various designs for the dollar coin, the famous fifty-state quarter series, and the various redesigns of presidential portraits on our coins. He claimed this had the effect of confusing our national identity. A national identity crisis over coins? Sounded like a fun challenge.
I brainstormed and sketched out several ideas for this- the vast majority were flops (though i was rather fond of the idea of Washington brawling with Adams on the side of a one-dollar coin) but soon enough I remembered that there was one character that screamed National Identity:
From there I had to think of a way to connect that with confusion and coins. Well, stores provide variety, right? And a graphic image like those on a coin would probably be seen hanging on strings just like paintings or posters. Add a touch of my beloved surrealist tendencies and my idea was complete.
From there I produced a number of thumbnails, trying to get down an idea for the composition I wanted to use. This is actually one of my favorite steps in the process, as it is brimming with creative possibilities.
Following this I took photo reference to work off of for my sketch.
After taking quite a few photos I took out parts to draw from and produced a finished sketch. I put this sketch in photoshop to make a quick color study. I do it this way because it gives me alot more time to experiment before I move into the final stage.
For this illustration I decided to go for a traditional approach and experiment with watercolors. My reference in hand, I sat in my studio and started painting.
After some good ol' fashioned pigment pushing (followed by refining pixel pushing as a last step in Photoshop)I came up with this final image:
Viola! One good exercise with a quick turnaround that allows me to practice all the major components I need to develop to feed my self and put a roof over my head. This, combined with traditional figure drawing, reading alot of news and history, and sketch-booking is a great way of keeping up your skills. DO IT!
As for me, I think I owe John a coffee for this advice...
image of Uncle Sam produced by James Montgomery Flagg