Hello SunKing Design Blog Fans!
I am UntidyVenus aka Izzy. Today I am sharing with you some of my illustration and drafting process, which I won't lie, I don't document often. It's not because it's some big secret, but because I’m just too lazy and I never thought that anyone would be interested. Then the SunKing himself asked me to write something up and so I procrastinated for… 4 months? Yeah, four whole months. So here we finally go!
I start with an idea. Today I was feeding my pet shrimp (yes I have pet shrimp, that's another blog post) and was thinking about silly shrimp puns. So the idea came for a tee shirt/sticker design. I tried to come up with as many bad and terrible shrimp puns as I could possibly come up with, to get the bad ideas out of the way first.
"Shrimptastic, shrimprific, shrimpzilla, shrimpnado, Shrimply irresistible, Shrimply the best, Shrimply Amazing etc etc etc."
Then I hit Google. There are thousands of types of shrimp. My personal pets are Cherry Shrimp, aka Neocaridina, Taiwanese shrimp red variety, etc. They are tiny, less than half an inch (about 12 mm) so my personal observations wouldn’t suffice and I don’t currently have a macro lens for my camera. After researching the shrimps every last detail, its time to start doodling. Finding your best way to “shortcut” real life is the way to finding your style. After a few shrimp doodles in my sketchbook, which a cat spilled coffee on before I could get a picture (sorry!) it's time to pick a pose and start sketching.
Sketching & LineWork
My preference for sketches is a mechanical pencil with an architect's lead. The lead is hard, therefore very light, and comes in a variety of colors (well, red and blue) that blends in beautifully with watercolor if I am unable to erase it all in the end product. I start with a motion line, or the spine of the subject, and build the shapes from there. Since I work mostly in watercolor I need a waterproof marker for line work, my preference are Sakura Microns.
Now that the line work is done, we need color!
I decided to pull out my never used Koi brand travel set for this. I purchased it thinking it would be great for travel and plein air painting a few years ago and maybe tried it once. So, essentially never used. Whenever working with colors, you need to know how they will react to each other, so I made a swatch grid. After playing with paint on a fresh sheet of paper, its time to jump in! Looking at my references I found the shrimp are red, but also translucent, that is, light passes through them but they aren't totally transparent. So, a warm red with cool red shadows should work well for this.
Tools & Application
You don’t need fancy paint brushes to paint watercolor, but you do need at least one RIGHT brush. A brush that holds a lot of water and comes to a fine tip is really all you need.
I lay down a coat of the warm red for the first layer, thinking about the highlights, where the light would touch the shell, and the shadows as well. While the paint is still wet you have the ability with most colors to drop more fresh water in where you want less paint, and “push” more paint into the parts you want darker.
Once that was dry I added a second layer of the warm red, quickly followed by some of the cooler red. That way I could blend the colors. I live in a very dry and arid area (on top of a mountain in Utah!) so things dry very fast, which means I have to pay attention and work faster.
Digitization & Clean-Up
I now take the watercolor to my scanner, and scan them as super high resolution. I personally have an older Epson Workforce that scans around 600 dpi, dots per inch. Thats MUCH more resolution than I need for almost anything, but I like having extra pixels during the clean up process. I bring the file into Adobe Photoshop, and select and copy a shrimp. Each one will be its own file from now on. Shrimp one gets pasted into a high resolution file, and I proceed to use the eraser, clone tool and zoom to delete the background so he is transparent (and yes, this is a male shrimp I did not paint a “saddle” or the ovaries into him) and use levels to correct any color changes in scanning.
I take my puns very seriously, so I select a font that matches my line weight on my art, have someone outside double check my spelling (autocorrect doesn't know shrimply, so will miss my SHIMply!) and save for use!
These guys are now ready for upload on your favorite sites! I have them available on Teepublic and RedBubble, as well as stickers on the way from StickerMule!