So far on my blog, I’ve already shared most of the technical aspects of my “working process.” From this point forward, my posts will consist of mostly images with less technical information.
Illustrating liqueur flavors was simply a perfect project for me.
When I did my first, liqueur illustrations for Allen’s labels, I worked traditionally with my watercolor dyes. I only did marker sketch ideas for the sour flavors. It was rare for me to develop final art from just line drawings; however, I had adequate reference, which was helpful.
As with many assignments, I never saw or tasted any of the products I illustrated. My first liqueur assignment never provided me with any printed labels, even though I was persistent in trying to get copies.
In 1998, I illustrated eight labels for a liqueur brand named “Allen’s,” through an ad agency out of New York. The budget for those labels was $1,000 each, and that was the price I received for my second project also.
I began my illustrations by giving the art director line drawings with “lettered” choices. Most of the time, I indicated about four to five varied compositions. Sometimes, I had to develop a flavor further than that, but I never minded too much. It was always optimal to spend time in the preliminary stages. It certainly saved a lot of time revising artwork later.
I’ve enjoyed sharing how my line drawing technique improved over time. Below are the line sketches, some photo reference examples, and final paintings for this first, liqueur project that I did for Allen’s Liqueur’s.
A few years later, I illustrated another line of liqueur labels for Allen’s, and those paintings were for “sour” flavors. The art director was not sure on the concept, so initially I created a color comp that showed sour suckers. After that, the art director preferred “sour balls” instead. To add to the challenge, he wanted me to incorporate splashes with those candy balls amidst fruit. I was pleased that I was able to pull it off.
My second, liqueur illustration assignment was for Du Bouchett Liqueurs. On this assignment, I collaborated with another illustrator. My San Francisco representative, Barb Hauser, arranged for another artist to illustrate “splash backgrounds,” which were digitally inserted behind my paintings. Since I disliked painting splashes, I didn’t mind that at all!
I completed three, liqueur projects for Du Bouchett. At the time of the first project, I was not yet adept with utilizing my computer to design the composition. I only provided line drawings, and marker comps were not required.
However, a few years later, I definitely had acquired digital skills, which I utilized to create my paintings. Once my composition was “composed” on my computer, I printed it lightly onto my watercolor paper. Then I painted over it and added highlights, as well as other details, with colored pencil.
For two, subsequent assignments from Du Bouchett, I scanned my reference and created a “digital clipboard.” I then manipulated the compositional elements on the computer.
Early in my career, I discovered that “giving too much information” confused some of my clients. As my digital abilities improved, however, I found this changed for me.
Later on I eliminated line drawings, because my clients usually preferred my digital, color layouts. Therefore, it became simpler for me to share them right away.
To create my color layouts, I incorporated many varieties of photo reference into them. Most of time, I took my own photos and sometimes added Internet reference for items such as “sloe berries.”
Once again it was interesting and educational being an illustrator. Now I know that Sloe Gin is from the sloe berry! I used to think it was called “Slow” Gin (I guess I thought it was drunk slowly!).
I developed my compositions considerably once a choice was approved. It wasn’t necessary to spend a lot of time on the preliminary choices, except to indicate the placement of the elements. Once the art director finalized the layout, I used Photoshop filters and attempted to make all the layers consistent and unified. For sure, I wanted to avoid a “cut out” appearance.
I am going to share the line drawings and illustrations for Du Bouchett below. Unlike my first project, the line drawings don’t always correspond to my painting. That simply reflects that there were revisions to my drawings that I haven’t shared. On one flavor, chocolate, the art director wasn’t clear about how he wanted it depicted; my first drawings shared cacao beans.
The simplicity of these illustrations was apparent for me. Using friskit, created very crisp edges between the elements. For me it was almost like “painting by numbers.”
I very much enjoyed painting these flavorful illustrations. To portray juiciness, I was instructed to add a lot of moisture. Placement of water droplets and drips added to my fun.