This post is organized with illustrations following a “sweet theme.”
One of the first lessons I had as an illustrator was how important promotion was. It turned out that one of my favorite paintings of a candy bar was a perfect image to tantalize an art director with!
I actually do consider my illustration of a Nestle Crunch Bar my very first portfolio image that helped to “jumpstart” my career. However, I hated doing the hand lettering on the wrapper. By the time I illustrated a Snicker’s Bar, I already had learned the benefits of creating custom, rubdown letters, which I used as a “frisket template.” That allowed for perfect lettering!
I needed only to provide a graphics lab with a black and white image. I obtained my black and white image by making a photocopy of my photograph. I used ink, as well as a tiny brush with white paint to create lettering that was as perfect as possible. From that photocopy, a negative was created and through a specialized, photographic process my lettering would be created. Because my lettering was sometimes on products with shadows, droplets, and wrinkles, I needed to be able to paint on them. I used the rubdown letters as a mask, and would remove them with scotch tape after painting around them. This especially worked well for white letters. If the letters were dark, then I would obtain a reverse rubdown for masking purposes.
I love painting candy bars! The properties of dye allow for an amazing array of brown colors when painting chocolate. For me, there is never simply “brown!” In working to create rich tones, I use colors such as amber yellow, mahogany, ultramarine, vermillion and other brown variants. Sometimes, the lighter areas would retain the brilliant dye colors and the brown would become almost pink, for example. To solve that, I’d simply glaze in a complementary color or add ultramarine or sepia to dull down the intense saturation of color.
With further texture experimentation, I applied colored pencil over the dye. Sometimes, I’ve added acrylic over the colored pencil. On my Snicker’s Bar illustration, the colored pencil helped create waxy highlights on top of the chocolate bar. Colored pencil and acrylic were especially helpful in creating the nougat texture. I used liquid friskit to mask out white highlights. Often, I added a “glow” using a white, colored pencil, because a “halo” gives a better effect and allows the highlights to appear less sharply masked.
As a result of my sample of a Snicker’s Bar, I obtained an assignment to illustrate a Balance Bar. I didn’t find my illustration exciting at all, because there were many perimeters I had to follow which restricted me from adding dripping caramel and crumbs that might have added to the realism.
As an illustrator, it was always helpful for me to shoot my own reference. When I was given an assignment to illustrate a candy called “Dittos,” some creative photography was involved. I actually glued the candies to a board to enable me to place them in different positions. Since they were supposedly “falling in space, I pinned the candies from the back of a foam core board.
I do not have any printed samples or final art for this assignment. My marker comp was done almost in a finished technique, because I painted with watercolors on mounted marker paper.
I have mentioned and shared my occasional job disasters, and I’ll share one here again. This was an illustration for Ben Meyerson candies and involved a chocolate patty that was broken open to reveal a dripping, raspberry filling. Trust me, the actual product was not appetizing. The client requested the filling be bright red, when it was actually very dark. There were some unappetizing seeds in the jelly, too!
Perhaps I didn’t have good enough reference, but for whatever reason the client was not happy with my final painting. The painting I am sharing below went through several sets of revisions. Unfortunately, I did end up having to pursue getting paid a reduced fee.
The purpose of a portfolio painting was to showcase the kind of work I wanted to illustrate. One of my favorite portfolio pieces that I did a few years after my chocolate bars was an illustration of an assortment of Brach candies.
It turned out that it was helpful because I actually ended up getting an assignment illustrating labels for Brach Candies.
This portfolio painting was one of my favorites because it encompassed interesting textures, colors, reflections, and contrast. Although I had photo reference, I enhanced color relationships, especially to create reflections of candy colors off one another.
I have more images of this painting on Post #16
The gummy candies with the textured sugar coating were a “texture to solve.” Since transparency was my preference, I splattered liquid frisket with a toothbrush. I did this in several layers and softened the effect. Of course, the toothbrush for this effect can only be used once, since the liquid frisket rapidly dries on it. Within only seconds, I end up splattering dried liquid frisket, which lands like little rubber pieces upon the paper.
I really enjoyed the project that I eventually received from Brach. Once again, I diligently pursued getting printed samples, however, I never was able to get any. On top of that, this project must have been such a rush that I have no slides of any final paintings. All I have are color photocopies, which I’m sharing here. I find it important to say that, because a color photocopy of my work is of considerably less quality than when I share a scan from an original painting. I usually do not sell the originals, but in some cases for an additional fee, I have allowed the client to keep the paintings.
On the “Special Treasures” illustration, I utilized the custom lettering process. I created a black and white rendition of the lettering for the graphics lab. I photocopied my candy reference and used ink, white paint, and a brush to fix any imperfections. Once again, the rubdown letters made it much easier than lettering each candy by hand.
When I illustrated four packages of Little Debbie’s Snack Cakes for McKee Baking Company, they shipped me several boxes of their cookies, candies, and cakes for this project. I actually needed to render two of their products with a “bite taken out.” Those are my teeth marks there! (Just kidding.)
I freely shared those delicious sweets with my family and friends. I was casually speaking with the art director; I thanked him for generously sharing all those samples He said, “Oh my god, those are prototypes and are not meant to be eaten!”
It was too late. I laugh just remembering that whole episode!
Since I’m sharing illustrations with a “sweet theme,” I am also including some pudding illustrations. I don’t have final art or printed samples on this, either. I like my color comps, especially the vanilla flavor since it was quite challenging to illustrate something that is white! When I found the art director’s comments in my file folder I wondered if I pulled off what he wanted. The job was accepted, so I guess I was able to match the product color and create a “wet look” for the final painting.
The next project I’m sharing involves one of those “splashes” that I wasn’t crazy about illustrating. This label can currently be seen at Costco; it is the Kirkland brand calcium chew. This project was done a few years ago, so I used my computer. I was not as adept at that time to decide which was the best photo and “isolate it.” Instead, I had a whole page of unappetizing chews.
I illustrated the elements separately, and the art director was able to combine them. Sometimes it makes a lot of sense to illustrate elements separately. Usually it is never the same for me as when I unify the objects together with illustrated shadows and color relationships.