Simple steps from concept to illustration
From concept to sketching
Have a clear concept, in this case I want to get into an circus elephant’s shoes and express in a humorous way what it can be feeling.
Saying bad words is a humorous but serious way to say that animals are fed up of abuse, mistreat and lack of care. Time to think and change our behavior!
This article is intended to give a general overview of the creative process using any commercial digital program in pixel or vector based. For more details and technical information, don’t hesitate to send me a message.
I don’t want to be aggressive or to put things too dramatic! So following the line of animals protesting by saying bad words, I decided to draw an elephant performing a circus trick that is not very pleasant for it. The idea behind this is that animals should be in freedom and don’t have to do things just for human pleasure.
So, let’s sketch! I looked for several images on the internet and took some of the typical poses in an elephant circus show. The most appealing for me was an elephant making a big effort to stand on its front legs. All of this with some anger and some suffering (not too much).
Draw general shapes, draw until feel satisfied and check visual and conceptual accuracy. Ask others what they think and check comprehension of the message!
Creating outlines – Inking
Use your sketch as model and begin to draw thinking in final weight, color and look of the outlines. Put some transparency to your sketch and draw until feeling satisfied with the look and feel of the scene.
Deactivate your sketch and concentrate on your outlines, some cleaning is waiting for you. Think in overlapping mode and delete lines that should not be visible because main lines cover them.
Add details, improve expression, check balance, position, simplify if possible and begin to think more in details.
Adding texture and details
In a different layer, add the necessary elements to create some texture. The idea is to add movement, some wrinkles (so typical in elephants), hair and in this way add depth and richness.
Here I go for some key elements for the success of this illustration, I am creating the bad words as graphic symbols.
Some of the more used bad words in graphic world are question marks, exclamation marks, stars, skulls, some guns, percent signs, ampersands, commercial ats, asterisks, lightning bolts, etc.
In this case, for more impact, I am creating it by hand, in different attractive colors.
Coloring and shading
It’s time for one of the most pleasant parts of this: coloring!
Begin by defining your color palette, check different possibilities and combinations, check for vibrancy and compatibility, even if a cartoon style allows some freedom.
Add flat colors until feel satisfied with the general overview of your artwork.
Add color details, in this case, I added red triangles to the base where the elephant stands on. This is another subtle symbol to make spectators remember that we are in a circus, just in case that the elephant’s performance is not enough!
Finally, I changed gray bad words into colored ones!
For shading I drew simple lines, textured ones, dark for shadows and light for lights, I took advantage of this part of the process to make some details more prominent and to give more volume and appeal.
Time for general checking. Pay attention to right delivery of the message and don’t forget to give maximum balance to colors and volumes. Is my drawing correctly expressed? Does it communicate what I want it to?
Let’s add a background! What about giving some contrast by making it blue? A subtle degrade from a lighter blue to a greenish darker one to suggest the floor.
Let’s add a nice light texture to our background. It will be over when you will avoid the temptation to continue working on it forever!
Hey, don’t forget to create some drops of sweat and don’t forget this sad blue tear.
As a special touch I created a dead clown, as a symbol for circus and certainly for the “beloved” elephant’s trainer, this clown in the bad words also adds a good dose of taste and mischief!
I hope it was inspiring for you, thanks for supporting my work and for following illustratoons!
Pssst, get 50% off using BADWORDS
Also valable for Rude little chicken saying bad words