My Vintage 50s Dad | Skillshare Projects

Rebecca Vadnie

Art and More



My Vintage 50s Dad

First things first: I had a blast taking this class!

I've always been more of an analog artist than digital: My drawings and illustrations always start out in a sketchbook and wind up in Photoshop. This was an opportunity to think about how to incorprate texture into a piece as an important part of the composition, rather than an after thought.

Photo Inspiration

It took me forever to settle on an idea; I sketched and discarded a bunch of concepts because none of them worked for me. Then I came across this photo of my dad while looking for pictures to post for his birthday.


My dad (center) with mom and grandma in South Dakota, c. 1957.


My dad died in 2001, so I wanted to create an illustration that merged what I remember about him (like his easy going personality) and other parts of his life that I don't necessarily know first-hand.   


I sketched in rough outlines with non-photo blue pencil, then refined them with a black colored pencil so I would get as much contrast as I could when I got ready to scan. I've gotten away from inking my sketches lately; I like the rougher, looser look of pencil lines. 

The final scanned-in sketch with shading (pre-color adjusting):


Color and Texture

For this project, I used an iPad app called ProCreate. I'm usually working on the run, so this program is my Photoshop alternate since I can export to a layered PSD file to work on my laptop later.

I chose this pastel palette because it had a retro 50s feel, though my dad would never have worn a flamingo pink shirt. :) He also raised our family in Florida, where I still live, so the tropical pastels really clicked with me even more.

Finished flats:



I found an image of some wooden roof shingles that reminded me of feathers on the chickens that he used to raise. For the background, I decided to use handwriting found in an old book, mostly because I love finding handwriting in used books and like how it looked in this illustration. I used Soft Light layer setting and pushed the opacity down. For the final picture, I also changed the very bottom of his coat to close it up a little bit more.

Final illustration again:



I think what I enjoyed the most about this process is learning how to think ahead of how I might incorporate texture into a final collaged piece. It also made me to treat work in Photoshop (or any image program) as an integral part of the creative process, rather than a place for tweaking and polishing a piece that was already 99% finished.

Right now I am thinking about doing more portraits like this in a series, maybe of my family, maybe not. I enjoyed this process a lot; I want to keep playing around with found textures and mashing them up in unexpected ways. I can't wait to start my next illustration. :)


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