Just finished this personal project today- a spot image illustrating this great op-ed article in the New York Times I read awhile back (blame upcoming shows and deadlines for why it took me so long to get around to actually painting this guy).
I started the image the usual way- reading the article. From there I made lists and brainstormed different ways of illustrating it in a concise, eye-catching manner. The article essentially describes how China manipulates its currency, keeping it undervalued so Chinese goods trade more easily on the world marketplace.
Now, China has been portrayed a lot in illustrations lately, and the typical illustration represents China as either a Dragon (I myself am guilty of this) or a Chinese man in a red business suit (or even a disembodied hand wrapped in the Chinese flag). I wrestled with coming up with a different metaphor before finally thinking about those delightful chinese dog-dragons you see at the entrance of several chinese restaurants. The money visual was easy-an overflowing chest our canine friend is trying to keep shut.
From there it was thumbnails, color study, and painting in gouache.
I finished the image up in photoshop and made two versions- one for standalone uses and one for use inserted into the paper or magazine. It was fun getting to use gouache again, and develop a speedier method for getting spots done.