I have been illustrating for approximately thirty years. It would not be a stretch to say that I certainly improved over time. When I share jobs from early on in my career, I sometimes want to cringe! However, it is fun to put it here because I am intrigued at how I managed to “pull it off.” There were a few occasions where that wasn’t easy, but most of time I was able to satisfy my clients.
Before I share some old projects (and two, recent ones at the end), I want to share an example of my improvement.
Early on in my career, I had a portfolio painting of “Ortega Tacos.” I had not yet learned how to create “more perfect” lettering by using rubdown transfers. Many years later, I modified the Ortega Taco painting into a new and improved version. I cut out the elements that were satisfactory for me and glued them onto another painting! I utilized the process to create better lettering and my portfolio painting became “Herdez Tacos.” I was able to demonstrate that I was competent to illustrate products with lettering this way.
Many years later, I removed the Herdez product in order to create a painting that could be used for my stock image library.
As my illustration blog has evolved, I’ve shared tips, materials, techniques, and stories. I have plenty of food-related jobs that I could categorize. I’ve been doing that for many of my recent posts.
For this post, I am sharing more variety. A lot of these projects are not “food-related.” The common factor for these jobs was my working process. As soon as the job was assigned to me, I sought out reference to follow as my “road map.” I submitted line drawings, marker comps, and once the art director sent me their comments – final art! If I were lucky, down the road I would get a printed “tearsheet” of my illustration.
I am amazed that I have had such a variety of jobs that were not food related. In some cases, finding reference was quite challenging!
One thing was for certain; being an illustrator was quite educational for me. I learned about how potatoes are harvested, as well as the topography of New Zealand.
I learned to analyze textures, which was very useful when I had to illustrate a “cut-away” of the earth. When I did an ad for PG&E (Pacific Gas & Electric), I needed to create an illustration that would be used in conjunction with a photograph of the ground above. I experimented with watercolor pencils to create the appearance of different forms of underground rock.
Most of these jobs I’m sharing were completed a long time ago. The oldest of these assignments would be for Caprisun. I believe it was one of my first assignments from San Francisco when my agent, Barb Hauser, first began representing me.
I still wonder who came up with a flavor named “Banana Fudge!” I was instructed to illustrate a banana tree in the background and couldn’t find any good examples for my reference. I almost drove down the coast looking for a banana plantation that I remembered I’d seen on the way to Santa Barbara. I did end up working from reference in a book. I really did “fudge” it!
When I had to illustrate a colorful, topographical map for the New Zealand Travel Board – I learned a lot about map illustration. I am sharing the art director’s notes, which I think definitely displays her enthusiasm!
I enjoyed illustrating the different pine trees on an ad for Beckman Corporation. I used a crowquill and watercolor for a more delicate and illustrative style.
I had an interesting project from Chicago that I omitted on my post about representatives. This project was one of my first, larger assignments. It consisted of four illustrations of “food groups” that were to be used on a brochure. At that time, I did all my lettering by hand. I also did not have the benefit of Photoshop, so often my photo reference was very dingy and easy to improve upon!
When I did an ad for Chevron, It was interesting to learn about the herbicide named Diquat. Diquat is used to kill the potato plant that grows above, in order for the potatoes to be harvested. I needed to illustrate a healthy, potato plant and then show it dying in two stages. I had to invent one, since I didn’t have access to a live, potato plant.
Illustrating dirt was something I have done many times – especially for the Supersoil projects done later on in my career.
When I needed to illustrate a lot or droplets, I created my own photo reference with some creativity.
Since a gradation was needed, I created one by using markers. I put a sheet of acetate over the colored gradation. Upon that, I dripped corn syrup using an eyedropper. Then, I carefully photographed it using different forms of lighting. The final illustrations I’m sharing were from poor quality slides, but I spent a lot of time digitally improving them to use as stock illustrations. Technically, this illustration was unique for me in that it was done entirely with colored pencil. The highlights were painted on with acrylic, over the colored pencil.
I have worked for McDonald’s. Years ago, they wanted an illustration for a poster that would depict their gourmet coffee. I am sharing my photo reference, which had me appreciate the challenge of photographing ice cream. Often with my photos, I work toward capturing certain elements. In the reference below, my goal was capturing the bubbles and side of the glass. I was able to easily superimpose a more “sculpted” soft-serve, ice cream later on!
I was proud of this illustration because it has never been easy for me to paint perfect ellipses (like the edge of the glass), as well as elements that are white with bubbles. Unfortunately, I did not have any examples of the final illustration other than a color photocopy. I never did receive a copy of the printed poster.
Early on in my career, one of my most challenging projects was for Orange Julius. I created two posters; one had a drink with fruit flying around it. The cup itself was quite complicated, and had an “intense” pattern on it. I ordered rub-down letters for the words on the cup.
The second poster of a hot dog was far easier to illustrate for me. It was “organic,” meaning there were no geometric elements or lettering that I was responsible for. On this project, I was given many posters, and I actually have a printed, cardboard example of that hot dog, which is five feet long!
Now I am moving forward to some more recent ways that I’ve illustrated. To demonstrate how much my illustration process has changed due to the “digital age,” I am sharing an illustration of lemons. This illustration was created on the computer. I utilized reference of oranges. I altered their color to create my lemon slice, and borrowed a few leaves as well.
The last assignment I am sharing is a recent, digital assignment. I did so many versions of the chocolate squares below that I’m not even sharing my final painting. The final art looked very much like the comp.
This illustration was done for Beveri Nutrition products and will be in nutrition stores soon.