Why Does It Take So Long to Get Stronger?

Why Does It Take So Long to Get Stronger? - student project

Great class! It got me interested in something that I'd never, ever thought about: scientific illustration. Well, I had thought about it, just never for myself. I always assumed that my style wouldn't be a good fit for it.

But seeing Christine's awesome artwork really inspired me to try my (cartoony) hand at it.

I cheated a little... My project isn't really done. What I'm showing here is more of a style-test for what might become a bigger project about how muscles grow stronger. I'd want to do an all-ages comic about how exercise affects us and why it seems to take forever to see results.

Besides the inspiration, I think the most valuable lesson I've taken from this class was that it's possible to smoothly combine my analog and digital workflows. For some reason, I thought it was an all-or-nothing proposition!

I sketched a bit and got this:

Why Does It Take So Long to Get Stronger? - image 1 - student project

Then I refined things a little on the light box. Normally I go straight to my final inks at this stage, but I tried using Christine's workflow instead and I really liked how idiosyncratic the results were. It made a huge difference toward keeping the final piece loose and organic.

Once I had my final sketch, I scanned. Then I used Kyle Webster's awesome watercolor brushes to get everything colored. Normally, I just kind of color in between the lines like a child and leave it at that--I never thought about coloring the lines or erasing them like Christine did. Wow! I seriously can't believe that I didn't think of that before.

Ditto for printing out text and using that as a template for hand-lettering. My handwriting is so terrible that it takes me forever to churn out something legible AND decorative. This technique helped me a lot.

Phew. So, the results are these:

Why Does It Take So Long to Get Stronger? - image 2 - student project

I'm not 100% in love with how the sweat on my strongman's forehead looks... Maybe for future iterations, the sweat will be jumping off him, instead of just dripping down. I feel like it looks too passive right now, kind of like hair? But still, I'm pretty pleased and I think I'm off to a good start if I decide to keep going with this project.

Before anything else happens, of course, I'm actually going to need to do some research.


I decided to move forward with the project. My process is a little different now. I'm sketching on paper and refining that until I'm about 3/4 comfortable with everything. Then I take a picture with my cell phone and import that into Photoshop, where I use some fun runny inker brushes for the linework. 

For color, I decided to keep going with the retro vibe and use some screentones. I'm still working on things, but here's what I've finished so far:

Why Does It Take So Long to Get Stronger? - image 3 - student project

Following some excellent feedback, I did some things to try to make the picture more active. I also did away with the weight belt--my Strongman looks a little less realistic, but I think his design is simpler and better.

Although I went with a slightly different style for the final project, working on that preliminary piece really helped me define the overall sensibility. It just goes to show that even if something doesn't make it into the final iteration, no time or effort is ever really wasted. In the future, I'm going to force myself to do more prep work! Doing a style test was really helpful.