a blog about illustration, concept art and other topics
Posts which contain some documentation of the process. The documentation can be video, gifs, multiple work-in-progress images, commentary or other means to give some insight into the making of the artwork.
Lets’s close the first month of freelance with a set of illustrations I did for Dino Trocknungen GmbH and in collaboration with Kassel based design agency Lockruf. Dino Trocknungen was going to brand a set of construction waste containers and wanted to utilize their mascot for this purpose. They were acquiring a new truck as well, which was potentially gonna get a print on the door(s). So they were looking for poses/actions of their mascot which would suit the theme but also needed to fit onto the containers. With this info and some temporary design layouts from Andreas Bollerhey (of lockruf) I had a lot of fun just sketching proposals. The client selected his favorite sketches, Andreas gave me some additional info on how he’d like the files to be set up so he could make adjustments for the final layouts, and off I went to create the illustrations.
I had the opportunity to design a mascot for a private beer brewer and illustrate one small vignette that can be used on a label, sticker, card, etc.. Initially, the goal was to cartoonify the client into the mascot, and I briefly explored some options based on some of the cartoons/comics the client grew up with. The last option I threw in because in our conversation I had learned that there’s a family crest that features a bull and an axe. He liked the bull and so that’s the option we went with for the final illustration.
Shortly after announcing my return to freelance, I got an e-mail from a musician who had seen and liked some of my various explorations from the past years. The musician was looking for someone to create an album cover for him. The music wasn’t going to be published, instead, it is only for his own private use. For a briefing, I received a spotify-playlist of music from other musicians, a short description of the theme of the music that he wants to collect into an album, and a budget. From there I listened to the playlist on repeat and did a couple of sketches. I’m happy to say he liked all of them, but he decided on only commissioning me to finalize one for now.
The band name and album title I made up myself from the description that I was given.
I’m really happy with this project, I had a lot of fun listening to the playlist and letting my own imagination & emotions guide me through the process of making those comps/sketches. I’m also happy that I got to work on the one sketch that I threw in as an “out there”-suggestion.
I don’t know when exactly I discovered Harry Mack. It wasn’t too long ago but before the pandemic. I saw one of his Guerilla Bars videos and followed his channel on youtube. But it was only when the pandemic hit and he started a series called “Omegle Bars” that I became a big fan of him. The concept of the show is that Harry chats up random people on a chat-roulette site called “Omegle”. He offers to do a freestyle for his chat partner based on random words they provide. Harry is marvelous in his freestyle performance. But the series really shines because you can see and feel Harry lifting the spirits of the people he encounters. And that positive energy is so strong that with every episode I can’t help myself but be happy myself, for Harry, his chat partners, everyone. I had the opportunity to join his HappyHour stream a few months ago. Here’s the time-stamped link to it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HViiFqbGD2g&t=2523s I think you can easily see just how happy I was!
A couple of days ago I was feeling anxious. There’s time-sensitive bureaucracy I have to deal with so I can freelance again. A job that would have been beneficial for the aforementioned bureaucracy just fell through and I was putting myself under pressure to produce portfolio artwork that I didn’t really want to do but which would make it easy to get some quick jobs. I wasn’t in the best mood or mindset and I was spiraling down fast. So I stopped my “work performance”, turned on a Harry Mack video, and let myself be uplifted. This then turned into me being motivated to draw something Harry Mack related. It turned into a sketch and the sketch turned into an illustration.
The following illustration is based on the “Alpenkrähe | Red-billed cough”. After doing the Subalpine Warbler, I felt like I was not pushing myself in any way on these latest images. So in this illustration I avoided using curves as much as possible, constructed the body out of chunky rectangles instead and deliberately made everything – from the basic proportions to the shading – a little bit more abstract than before. And at the end, I created a second interpretation on the same basis because I felt again like I was sticking too much to what I already established as a safe look.
Unfortunately, I did not write any notes while creating this illustration and thus there will not be any additional text to accompany the process-images. Due to being busy at work & the Tendonitis flaring back up again I had to split the work on this image over multiple evenings.
Sometimes “inspiration” really just means to look at something you’ve seen already multiple times again, but this time you see something different.
As I got out of the shower I looked out the window which had fogged up due to me enjoying warm water on my skin while we had just seen some snow coming down a few minutes earlier. The view out of the bathroom window isn’t very inspiring by itself, there’s the wall of the next house a few meters away and some branches hanging from a tree which sits between the two houses. I’ve seen that view for 3 years on an almost daily basis and I don’t get excited about it, usually. However for some reason this time my brain made me realize and actively consider that there is a wall, and yes there are tree branches – but have you noticed how everything looks like it’s 2D. It’s all flat, there’s no volume to it. Whatever chemistry happened in my brain at that point took those thoughts and turned it into multiple ideas for artworks. This was one of the ideas and the most straight-forward one. So everything you need to know is already in the first image here. The ref-photo I took a couple minutes after the post-shower-epithany and the quick composition doodle that followed after.
I knew I would be going for a simple composition and color-theme on this image. Mostly bright greys to give the impression of mist & fog, but with a little bit darker values on the branches and the bird. I knew that I’d need a bird with a colored pattern to it’s feathering and looking through the bird guidebooks I found the “Balkan-Bartgrasmücke – Subalpine Warbler”. I liked the red’ish chest coloration but ultimately I decided to use this bird because I saw an opportunity in its head-shapes.
So the next step was to lay down the base-shapes without any detailling.
I noticed this bird – a Stachelschwanzsegler – White-throated Needletail – because in the guidebook it’s bodily appearance was unflatteringly described as something looking between a flying barrel and a cigar. Looking for more information on this bird online I found out that it can travel up to 105mph | 170kmh. While not the fastest bird this is still pretty fast and as far as I know faster than the other swift-type birds.
Upon reading of its travel speeds, I remembered poster designs for the Porsche racing series and wondered if I could create something similar for this bird. Thus I scribbled down the following thumbnails.
I wasn’t particularly patient that day so I jumped straight into creating the illustration. Draw the bird, draw the rest of the image. Done.
This illustration snuck up to me, took me hostage and didn’t let me go until I got it out of the system. I had planned to work on something different that day, but while walking up to the workstation, the idea for this artwork came to my mind. Like I usually do I made a quick sketch, added a couple of notes, saved the file to be reopened at a later date and opened the illustration I had planned for that day. But my mind kept drifting back to this one. And so I reopened this one, closed the other one, picked up the guidebook to look for a bird to use for this idea, decided on the “Tannenhäher – Spotted Nutcracker” and then went to work.
There was very little experimentation on this artwork. I spent some time figuring out the initial bird shape – what to simplify, where to use curves vs. straight lines etc.
Of this new series of bird-inspired artworks this was the second one I started and while I had very little trouble drawing the bird itself – a Großer Brachvogel – Eurasian curlew – the overall image wasn’t so straightforward. It went from painterly to Charley Harper flat to what it is now. You’ll see exactly what I mean in the following steps.
based on this initial sketch next I blocked out base shapes and painted in the background. Initially I thought to contrast the graphic shapes of the bird with a dry brush-like look for the background. The curlew was to stand in shallow water and a streak of sunlight was to hit both the bird and the seagrass behind him.
While on a short vacation between christmas and new years we visited a small bookshop where I happened to pick up a guide book to birds. Despite having done a few artworks on birds I still don’t really know much about birds, not really at least. I still struggle to recognize even those birds I’ve created artworks about for example, but I also don’t or didn’t have any idea about how many different birds exist. How the different birds are actually different from each other and so on because when looking at pictures of birds on the internet, you don’t really get that kind of information. You get a picture and that’s it. Hopefully I will learn more about birds using this book though right now I’m mostly using it as an artbook because damn the illustrations in there are gorgous.
This wan’t the first bird to spark my interest, more like the third, however it was the first for which I had a clear idea for an artwork right after seeing it. Most of the time I simply start doodling because I like a certain feature about a bird and then construct an image around it, not so with this Schwarzspecht – Black Woodpecker.
Given it’s name and overall black feathering I thought it fitting to create an image which overall would largely be black or very dark, and use the red accent on the birds head to make the bird pop off the background and possibly give it something mysterious or even menacing. So that’s what I blocked out next: