Rebecca Vadnie

Art and More

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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.

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


Concept

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.   

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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):

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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:

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Textures

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:

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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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