Tools of the Writer's Trade

Tools of the Writer's Trade - student project

For the sake of learning and total transparency, I admit fully that I struggled with the theme for this project. I started out sketching tools of the trade for film photography, something I just started experimenting with lately. I liked my original sketch work and layout, but I couldn't get it to click. There's only so much lipstick you can put on a pig.

So, I changed direction and decided to illustrate the tools of my daily trade: writing.

Since most of my illustrating work is done on an iPad before work in the morning, I adapted some of the techniques we learned in class for a mobile work flow.

A lot of the time my work starts out with loose ink sketches and then I'll refine those early ideas, but this time I really liked how they looked at that stage. I started drawing a bunch of different work items and whittled down the candidates to my writing bits.

Tools of the Writer's Trade - image 1 - student project

Tools of the Writer's Trade - image 2 - student project

I brought this into the Procreate app and I adjusted some of the proportions, smoothed out lines, and played around a little with the layout, though ultimately kept my original. With my line work ready, I pulled out a variety of pens to experiment with: Sign pens, brush pens, ink smears (workplace LOVED when I came in with inky fingers that day).

Tools of the Writer's Trade - image 3 - student project

Tools of the Writer's Trade - image 4 - student project

I pulled the sketches into the Polarr app and tweaked the contrast, saturation, and other settings to get a clean black and white image without blowing out the texture of my pen sketch. I imported the processed images into the Procreate app, knocked out my line art, and assembled my layout on a 6 x 4 postcard. (I don't have the bleed and crop marks shown here, but it would ultimately be a full bleed image.)

Tools of the Writer's Trade - image 5 - student project

The illustration developed as I worked. I used a series of layer blends to incorporate the inky textures I created. I used the broad brush stroke texture to rough up the colors a little more, and some of the drier flecked textures to add interest to the base color.

Tools of the Writer's Trade - image 6 - student project

I ran the image through hue, saturation, and color balance to generate some alternate color schemes.

Tools of the Writer's Trade - image 7 - student project

Tools of the Writer's Trade - image 8 - student project

Tools of the Writer's Trade - image 9 - student project

Tools of the Writer's Trade - image 10 - student project

 

The great takeaway I got from this class was a new way incorporating ink into my work beyond my usual line work. I enjoyed just experimenting freely with different pens and inks just to see what kind of marks I could make, then going back to those experiments to really think about the kind of marks I might want to incorporate in my final piece. Texture like this adds so much visual interest to an illustration; I'm really glad to add this tool to my work flow!

Rebecca Vadnie
Art and More
Teacher