My Creative Process
1. Reference Photo
To begin, I need a reference photograph to work from. You can send me your own photo, or I can stop by and take it myself. I send more details on exactly what I need, but basically it's a forward facing portrait with closed lips.
2. Photoshop "Sketch"
Next, I open the image in photoshop and make a reference "sketch." Unlike a traditional sketch, I'm basically only tracing the contours of the subject's face over the top of the photograph. This gives me time to become familiar with their features and learn which attributes make them unique and recognizable. I also use this sketch as an opportunity to experiment with lighting and color. In this case, I added a light to the right side of her face, and for color, used a light touch of blue and magenta.
3. Outline Study
In the next step, I open Illustrator and draw a rough outline using my geometric style. During this phase, I work very quickly; experimenting with different shapes. By using geometric shapes, I lose a lot of details, so it's very important to experiment and discover what looks best. This study helps me refine the portrait and take it one step closer to the final product.
4. Sketching, Painting and Inking
This step in the process is where the real work begins. I start by looking at both the Photoshop "Sketch" and the Outline Study made in steps one and two. I usually pull them up on my computer for reference. Next, I sketch out the image on watercolor paper. Then, the real fun begins as I paint a watercolor base, usually focusing on two analogous colors—in this case, blue and magenta. The final step is to ink the drawing using a permanent marker. I like to work with with watercolors and to draw the image by hand because it gives the portrait a human quality that would otherwise be lost in the geometric shapes and hard lines.
5. Digital Transfer
The final step involves pulling the image into photoshop and making some final adjustments. The image is adjusted and scaled to be readily available at any size that you request.