Pulled scene: “Rashel @ coffee shop”

Here’s a pulled scene from a recent project with a telecommunications client. It’s extremely rare for me to have a scene pulled once colored” but, alas, it happens. S’no biggie. And since this scene lacks any sensitive information, and the client said “yes” to a blog post, I’d like to point out a few things. Process stuff. First, this is what I call a “refined visual with high fidelity coloring.” “Refined visual…” means the lines are still rough pencil but not scribbly. “High Fidelity” refers to the coloring which includes shadows, highlights, textures, a “depth of field” (DOP) effect, plus other visual effects (vfx’s).

In short, the goal of this visual was to show how/when various app might be utilized by an advance user. To communicate this I drew the lead character in a setting that suggested “causal” (coffee, outside table, minimal street traffic, etc.), yet she’s in casual business attire, and obviously has a smart phone in-hand. The second device on the table belongs to her companion and was intentionally cropped to suggest either smart phone or tablet. Finally, to convey “any middle to upper class, urban setting in American” I added foliage, metal fencing, and a cross-over shaped vehicle. All heavily blurred though to keep the focus on the main character.

Honestly, I feel it’s easy to forget when looking at anyone’s art that every single line is a decision. One more time with that. Every single line is a decision. Whether well-placed or not. Every line has to be manually placed. Deadline aside, the process of illustrating anything demands your full attention. Sure, the mind can drift and easily process other matters as the hand guides the pencil along. But the creative juices are dramatically heightened when it’s time to render elements like hair, falling debris, water, etc. These complex forms are taxing and gradually exhaust you mentally. Forbid you have to refine, ink, and/or color them next. Depending on the scope and pace of a project you may not have the option of getting tired. And lets not even talk about how your mood can play a factor.

Moving along, I’d like to list some of the factors considered while creating this scene. Wait. Maybe “considered” isn’t the right word. How about “decisions.” I’d like to list some of the decisions that happened, in mere seconds, while developing this visual…

  • Give her short hair to suggest she’s stylish/professional -yet desires something easy to care for.
  • Make her hairstyle something you could see anywhere -and non-West Michigan.
  • Give her earrings. It’s a nice touch -and so easily forgotten.
  • Nose. In my typical style. And obsure her actual eyes with her eyelashes to zero-out an emotional read from her.
  • Have the hair from the top of her scalp angle forward, to accentuate the sunglasses on her head, and direct the viewer’s eye forward.
  • Hide her ears behind a lock of hair. It suggests “depth.”
  • Give her a necklace and bracelets because she’s, again, stylish. But not showy.
  • Don’t go crazy on the chest cause you’ll hear about it later.
  • Add lots of wrinkles along her torso to suggest she’s trim. This trick is also the only sex appeal tactic I can comfortably use right now.
  • Don’t give her a watch. She has a smart phone.
  • Hide her legs. Keep the focus upward.
  • Go buy her a purse. She’d shop at “Overstock.com,” right? Here’s a “Presa ‘Kennington’.”
  • Go with a nondescript table and chair.
  • Switch to a dulled, clutch pencil to create the background. Detail isn’t necessary here as it’ll be heavily blurred later.
  • If I color her sunglasses silver or gold it’ll rob attention from her phone. Plus I don’t’ feel she’d work it like that between 9’n 5.
  • Blouse? Go with the light blue, “Maine-colored,” desaturated top you captured on your iPhone while in Aerie.
  • Add a pattern around the torso and “Liquify” it to match the contour of her body.
  • Hit the forehead, cheek one, chin, and top of arms with a highlight to convey healthy skin.
  • Black-out the skirt to suggest “business” while also forcing the viewer to ignore her shape.
  • Make her companion’s skin tone darker to communicate “diversity in friends” -but make her clothing orange so it doesn’t look like a business meeting.
  • Make the purse black. Even though I really wanna go with a color. Badly!
  • Hit the hair with highlights to suggest “healthy” again.
  • Screen capture your own iPhone’s “mail” screen, place and distort it into position, then run the “Paint Daubs” filter on it.
  • Turn the background into “Group,” then “Smart Object,” and Gaussian blur it followed by a reduction in opacity to wash everything out.
  • Place the visual in Illustrator, create the dotted lines, then copy ‘n paste each into PS as a “Smart Object.”
  • Set all the dotted lines to “Overlay” mode in layers, Layer Mask each to create the overlapping illusion, then use the radial gradient to fade the ends.
  • Add a cardboard texture over the blurred background to wash it out further and vignette the edges.
  • “Save as” ,” “Flatten” the visual, and process it using custom digital photography actions to help the colors pop.
  • “Save as” ,” “Flatten”, “Dodge” select areas with the brush set to “Dynamic” and “Pen Pressure.”
  • “Flatten..,” apply “Paint Daubs,” then perform a “Fade” “ effect from the “Edit” menu to back-off the filter by 60%.
  • Save a low-res version and post it to the review area.
  • Eat something…and maybe try ‘n walk around.

…because a number of questions surrounded this scene I initially asked the designer to describe what he saw in his head. Here’s the ultra rough created during that phone conversation…and long before the above. Enjoy.

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