Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Sketchbook Stories - Page 2

For anyone jumping in, here's the original post that detailed this project and featured page 1. 

Now here's page 2!

Looks like there are quite a few pages from my unfinished graphic novel so I'll feature them on the blog rather than just my twitter.  It basically follows page one as a long introduction, showing powers and a (in this case, a baby's) *spark* (for lack of a better term) that brings forth their aforementioned powers.  Before I go on, let's look at what I had written on the side.

"Those who first revealed themselves were famed as undecipherable celebrities.  Showing off when they don't even look like they can even throw a punch.  Not all revealed were met with enthusiasm.  While those smart (or greedy) enough to bank on their new found "powers", the younger you were, the less control you had over your (powers) and the higher chance that you release it (most, if not all of your potential power) in a violent manner."

By the way, the text in bold is my personal commentary.  I missed a word and I can't read my handwriting often (happens more than I'd like to admit).

In general, all of this is WAY too expository.  It's helpful for me to get my ideas out, but not for a final draft of something.  About the art itself, I remember being very happy about the man's shape as he is knocking on the door (center panel), since I drew it straight from my imagination.

That's one of the big differences between me back then and me now.  I know the value of reference (use reference kids, all the pros do it).  Now, if I wanted to draw the back of someone knocking on a door, I'll pose and take a picture, or find it on the internet.  While sketching gives you the freedom to just draw gestures and suggestions, for final images, it is IMPERATIVE for you to use reference.  Even if your anatomy is off just a bit, the eye will catch it, and the image is ruined. 

See you tomorrow for page 3!

Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year, New Project (Coincidence Only)

Let’s go back to the summer of 2011.  I originally thought I had written about what happened in between universities, but looks like I haven't.  Guess I know what my next topic will be.  Anyway - I had dropped out of my first school, came back home and was at somewhat of a loss as to what to do.  I applied to schools and was waiting on responses.  Of course, knowing that I had dropped out with only a year and a half of school under my belt, I couldn't bank of getting into the school I wanted.  But I kept my insecurities out of my mind.  There was no help in thinking “what if it all goes wrong?”.   Instead, I took the actions that gave me the best chance for things to go right.  

I was walking around with a friend and went to a nearby stationery and art supply store, one of the few outlets that supplemented what I identified in myself as a creative urge to make art.  At the time I didn’t know what I was doing.  I started writing, I started sketching, and I started playing guitar (since then, I’ve only continued two of the three).  I walked around this relatively bare store and only found one sketchbook.  It was a sketchbook intended for nature sketching, with the upper 2/3’s of the page left bare to sketch and the bottom third lined for notes.  I was working on some kind of graphic novel (which I talked about on this blog post) and thought it was perfect.  My images would go on top and the dialogue would follow on bottom.  I picked it up, but it looked a little strange.  There was some kind of stain on the book.  Not a big deal.  But wait, the edges looked frayed.  Damaged, even.  I checked the inside.  The first half of the book’s pages were warped.  I had no other appealing options so I asked the store owner if he had another sketchbook like this.  He said no, but he’d give it to me at 40% off.  Couldn't say no to a bargain! 

As of 12/27/13, I have finished my sketchbook.  I’ve sketched in it on and off (I have a lot of sketchbooks) but never have I actually finished one before.  It strangely feels like an accomplishment even though there’s nothing I’m actually achieving.  Still, it’s nice to see that, unlike my dust-gathering guitars, for the most part, I’ve done what I’ve set out to do. 
It’s funny.  I’ve mostly used this sketchbook to recreate sketches in the art books I have.  As you know, I have an almost-zero amount of formal art training/education, but since 2011 I’ve steadily bought various art books and IllustrationAge has all of the out of print Andrew Loomis books online.  Andrew Loomis was an artist who published a set of acclaimed art instruction books (even artists I contacted when I first started this venture suggested his books).  So I set out to basically copy every sketch and full drawing I saw.  My logic was that I’d ingest the techniques the art books recommended and find my own techniques in the recreation process.  I can’t confidently claim that it has worked, but I do feel more and more comfortable with my freehand sketching and my technical drawing skills and there’s little I can attribute that to outside of this mimicking what I saw.  Part of me feels like I should buy another damaged sketchbook, but I doubt I'd find another one.

More importantly, I would like to announce a new little daily project.  I want to go through this sketchbook, take a picture, and say a little something about it.  My memory might get jogged and it’ll be interesting to see not only my progress but remember how I made this and what my thought process was.  There is only one caveat – this will be done only through my twitter feed.  I don’t want to bog down by blog everyday with a picture and a bit of text for two reasons.  1) I don’t think I have enough time post on the blog and 2) I imagine what I have to say about every page is about 120 characters or less.  For specifically interesting pages, I'll probably write a blog post on it, since there's more to say than 120 characters allow me (and, as you probably know, I'm just wordy). 

This seems like it’ll be fun and it will keep be interacting socially.  While I’ll post the picture and the blurb on my twitter feed, I’ll also extend that to my facebook page (click a link to see the picture) so you don’t have to follow me or start a twitter account in order to keep up.  Trust me, this isn't a ploy to get more followers (and I try to be the least annoying on that social media).  My handle is @JL_Illustration.  

So with that said, let’s start with page number 1!

Wow, I didn't expect that.  As I said, at the time I was working on a graphic novel.  It's on hiatus now as I need to revamp the way I approach it, but these were the seedlings I originally planted.  This was supposed to be the first page.  You can see that it's completely different than what I showed in the blog post I linked in the beginning of this post.  This reads more like an epilogue and the writing on the side is embarrassingly terrible.  Here's what it says:

"Hard to believe that after so many years, the stories we told were true.  Remember those super strong guys?  With all that energy power, bloasting each other, trying to save/destroy the Earth?  Well, turns out it's possible.  I'll save you the science-y explanation (yea, I don't actually know it so unknown) but little by little, people started popping up with this power.  All I know is that it's genetically based."

I get what I was trying to go for, but the casual language adds to the vague prose which amounts to little else.  It's not very good at all.  I think I mentioned that part of this graphic novel idea was inspired heavily by Dragonball Z - something that is much more obvious in this image.  Looking at the art, I'm not horrified by it, which is a good thing, but I do remember this taking me FOREVER.  I feel good that something like this would take me a fraction of the time.  Not because speed is inherently important, but because the knowledge I lacked at the time I could use to shortcut many processes.  

So there's page number 1.  Tomorrow - page number 2. 


Monday, October 28, 2013

Saying No

One of my favorite movies is ‘Yes Man’, the one with Jim Carrey and Zooey Deschanel.  I’ve always been a fan of Jim Carrey’s humor and the idea of saying "yes" to everything was framed in the best light.  Say “yes” and you go on adventures, find the perfect girlfriend, make a ton of people happy, and your life turns fantastic.  While it can obviously never happen, I still think the core takeaway is an important lesson to learn.  Say “yes” more often, and things will happen.  They might not always be bad, they might not always be good, but good can usually come out of it.  I’ve written about opportunity before and how opportunity comes with saying “yes.”  Unfortunately, this post is about saying “no.”

Life has changed a lot for me since I started this blog in January.   I have a portfolio website, my art has gotten better (and my confidence has skyrocketed), and I’m finding my voice in art.  In non-art life, I’ve now two part-time jobs (more than zero), I wrote and starred in a short play and a short film (hoping to write another soon) and, to be honest, I’m finding less time for my art than what I have had a few months ago.  That being said, I’ve had two clients, and it feels amazing to have had those opportunities (even though I haven’t spoken too well about the last one). 

Most recently, I was contacted by the same person whom I wrote about in my last blog post.  To clarify from that post, the client is not a bad person, just difficult to work with and many of the complaints and problems were things I need to foresee in advance and ensure the damage is minimized rather than expecting things to proceed without difficulty.  About a week ago the same client spoke to me about another project related to the illustration I created.  My client was having a book released and offered me the opportunity to illustrate the book cover.  I was excited.  I was just waiting for the client to finish so I could say yes already.  Then I heard the phrase “I can’t offer you payment but this will give you great exposure.”  Sigh.  I had to respectfully decline.  Again, I don’t want this to be a criticism or bashing of this client.  I’m sure this client meant well, felt it was a fair offer, and didn’t even think of the word “exploitation” when offering this deal. 

I think at an earlier point in my illustration endeavor, I would’ve jumped to make an illustration for a book cover, payment or not.  But I don’t think I can ever take such a deal now.  In my effort to become an illustrator, I try to be connected to the illustration industry – and I love illustrators.  They’re nice, surprisingly attractive, willing to help, and always offering advice.  One thing I constantly hear from the artists I both admire and respect is: don’t work for free.  The main problem with working “for exposure” is that it’s an exploitative practice that usually preys on the illustrators that don’t know any better or are desperate to show work.  Again, I’m not accusing of everyone who offers to pay artists with “exposure” as all being malicious.  But many do know what they’re doing.  For me to accept such a deal is to perpetuate it.  If I were to say yes, the person offering this deal is then encouraged to practice this behavior and think it is okay precisely because an illustrator took the offer without a problem.  Furthermore, my (and any illustrator’s) time is worth something.  It’s not worth exposure.  As an illustrator, I should have a plan for exposure that doesn’t include working for free.  

As I’m now writing about this, I feel more confident in my decision.  When I first said no and hung up the phone, I questioned myself.  Did I just do something extremely stupid?  What if this was my way to other connections?  What if the right people would’ve seen the illustration and steady work would’ve came?  All these questions swirled in my minds and I didn’t have an answer.  Regret was creeping in and I was very close to returning the call to the client and saying “actually I will do this.”  But I didn’t, and I’m glad.   I don’t want to say I’ll ever work for free, things can always change, and favors can always be done.  But mention working for “exposure” and you can be pretty sure I’ll say no. I thank the illustrators I follow and connect with for giving me the knowledge to make, what I think was, a good decision.

Most recently, I was contacted by a local creative agency.  The creative director was a high school friend of mine and knowing I had Photoshop skills, brought me in for an interview.  I was pretty excited.  It was a start-up creative agency and they showed me their work.  It was very impressive.  The environment was friendly, fun, and it looked like a great place I would like to work with.  They were also pretty impressed with my resume, my work, and my skillset.  They offered me pay on a per-project basis.  It wasn’t much, but seemed fair, and it wasn’t a dealbreaker by any means.  As I left, I had some trepidation as to whether or not I’d be working with them.  See, the thing was, they wanted me to create flyers.  As a start-up, money was needed and the bulk of revenue would come from nearby clients who needed flyers, whether for auto shows, club events, parties, etc.  I’m sure you’ve seen them.  They’re a common sight among larger cities.  Lots of text, dates, images.  I was to make a sample flyer, send it to them, and then we’d finalize the terms of a working relationship with the possibility of working in other aspects I was more interested.

I saw down in front of my computer, flyer in hand (I had to remake an existing flyer with the same information).  I opened up Adobe Illustrator and stared at my screen for twenty minutes.  There was zero desire in making this flyer.  I just had no interest at all.  I didn’t feel creative, I wasn’t really making anything – all I was doing was moving text around, making shapes, and ensuring the layout of it all was well-designed and pleasing to the eyes.  This is my personal feelings; I don’t want to belittle the process.  What I was doing was graphic design, which is an art in and of itself, but it wasn’t my art.  It wasn’t something I wanted to do or enjoyed doing.  I wrote an email to the creative agency apologizing for being unable to fulfill my duty.  I felt bad because we were mutually excited to work with each other.  But if my heart’s not in it, then I don’t feel right working for someone.  The work is creative, there is no doubt about that, but it’s not my kind of creativity, and I didn’t feel comfortable doing the work.  It might sound spoiled for me to ruin a potential opportunity because I basically "didn't feel like doing it" but for the almost-four years, that's been my plan and it's been working for me.  I felt like dropping out of school so I did.  Then I was accepted into my dream school.  I wanted to create my own curriculum so I did.  I wanted to become an illustrator after graduation despite my education being rooted in creative writing.  So I started drawing.  I am where I am because I wanted to make it so.  Even my jobs, which, in the basest of terms are glorified data entry jobs (an exaggeration but it still holds), aren't the most exciting but I do want to do them in terms of knowing the reward.  

It's unfortunate that I had to say no to two different opportunities, but as always, these are experiences that I will learn from.  I’m pretty happy that I can be in a position to say no to these things.  I’m no longer desperate for work, “exposure” is not a reason for me to work for free, and I’m also comfortable enough to know where I belong.  I think it’s a pretty good position to be in.

I was originally going to talk about how this illustration took me a lot less time than most.  But actually, that’s not necessarily true.  This image was something I had in my head a long time agoIt just took a long time for me to actually make it, mostly because I kept having changing what I wanted.  The word in my head with every image that came up was “awe” and “epic.”  A lot of the elements stayed true to the final image.  This child in the middle, the trees being blown away.  But what kept changing was the element of awe.  I first wanted it to be some kind of creature or monster with a strong light somewhere (oh yeah, that element was also a constant, the blinding light thing).  I sketched various designs and tried to make a few concepts but nothing concrete or good enough came out.  I still need work in my design/concepting skills. 

For a while, I was stuck on the image and worked on other things.  Then I bought a small sketchbook with the aim to bring it with me and try to draw in it everyday.  Unfortunately, I can’t say I’ve been too consistent, but there was a day where I tried to fix that image.  Then I thought – maybe it doesn’t have to necessarily be a monster, but still a thing of awe.  So I started sketching.  I liked it, and then worked on the kid.  I went through various iterations, poses as you can see in the two images below (apologies for the cruddy quality).  

To be honest, I had a little inspiration from another source.  While I originally had a different kind of kid in mind when I first thought of the image, I wanted a really fun, wild kid that was almost androgynous – it didn’t matter whether the child was a boy or girl.  Just fun.  I was reminded of this anime I (currently) watch – Naruto.  Somewhat recently, there was a little three-episode arc where a little kid was the focus.  Without spending too much time on the topic, I took a lot of inspiration from that character, giving him a cape, skinny limbs, and shorts (the original character has a poncho kind of garment, held in the middle by a belt.  Also, a hat).  I lengthened the hair and removed the cap because I knew longer hair would make the action in the scene feel stronger.
Once I started painting on Photoshop, things moved quickly.  I had the almost everything but the kid down very quickly and was toying with the idea of setting the trees on fire.  Ultimately, I wasn’t able to get the right look without ruining the painting’s consistent style so I dropped it.  Days later, I went and fixed the kid up, giving him fingers, hair, and proper clothes.  I didn’t have a lot of time, so I stopped again and would work on it another time.  A few days later I went back to it and I started brushing a bit, but realized I didn’t know what else to do.  Anything I’d add would just be extraneous and the look of the painting was specific.  Refining/rendering could ruin that.

I let it be and that’s what you see here.I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback on the image and I didn’t notice this until later but I used zero outlines, something I don’t think I’ve ever done.  I love outlines, I love the color black, or a very dark variant of a color.  But here I didn’t need it.  I didn’t even think about it.  I think it shows a flexibility in my process and a bit more confidence as I always felt I needed an outline to make the painting look good.  I’m hoping to make more time for my art than I’ve had in recent weeks.  I just can’t wait to make more paintings.

As always, thanks for reading.      

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Horror Story I Enjoy, and "Of The Scales"

I had another client to do an illustration for recently (for a whopping total of 2). I was excited; not only was this another paying gig, which felt amazing, less so for the money and more so for the feeling that my time and skills are worth something. A business partner put me in touch with my client, who's website I was creating an illustration for. I spoke to the client and asked if there was anything specific or any direction I should take for the image. I was told to use my creativity and start from scratch. Not an easy task as free drawing is very difficult but the content of the site as well as the client gave me some material to work with at least.

So I gave my client a rough sketch, spending a little under half the time allotted (I had an agreement with a developer as to the amount of time I was going to be paid for).  My client's response was "I like it, but..." with the but essentially changing the entire piece.  In addition to that, my client, after being sent the rough, was then giving me a ton of different pictures, poses, and images that I should be aware of as I was creating my image.  This was easily something that could've been sent to me before I even created a rough.  It was frustrating to say the least.  

Before going on too long with what is essentially a horror story, I worked much, much longer than I was paid for (something I'll ensure never happens again) and had to re-do and re-do my illustration many many times.  Even worse, I wasn't even happy with what I ended up with (not to mention, the client chose the sloppy-looking, second rough sketch, rather than a finalized one).  It was actually a horrible experience and I only felt slightly better with the fact that the website developer who was working with me and the client also agreed that it wasn't the easiest job he had taken for similar reasons.
But still, when I tell this story (and believe me, many of my friends have heard it), I try to have a smile on my face.  Why?  Because this is a great problem to have.  I never thought I be able to complain about a client so soon.  The fact that I have a client, a horror story, and something to complain about is something I wouldn't have imagined myself doing for at least another year (6 months at most).  It's a great feeling and if it comes to it, I wouldn't mind having a few more horror stories if it means getting more illustration work.  Speaking of, an illustration dissection is coming right up. 

Of the Scales
This was the first assignment I got for Bushwick Daily.  I was excited, fresh-faced, and eager to make an editorial illustration.  I get an email from my Art Director and I'm to work with a poem.  You can read the poem here.  As you know from my last blog post, I'm very wary when it comes to poetry but I did my best here.  Again, I let the words, specifically nouns direct me in my illustration.  The things that stood out to me most were "scales", and the fact the the person in question was some sort of fisherman.  Then, an image struck up, an angle, and I thought about looking out from under the water.  That way I could have both the fisherman and the scales, which seemed so important, take up the focus of the image.  I sketched and came out with this rough.

As you can see, the majority of the image was already present.  I liked the image but you can see I was a little bit unsure of the the positioning of the fishing line and if I wanted some kind of pillar to hold up the dock.  I decided to go into a bit of color before I was ready to send it to my AD.  Here is what the rough color ended up as.  

I kind of like this image as well, there is a watercolor-kind-of look to it.  My AD gave me great encouraging words and I went to final, adding detail to the sailor, and lightening up the image as a whole.  I also took out the pillar next to the fishing line because it looked awkardly like some kind of strange shadow.  The biggest change, however, between the colored rough and final was that I actually used a Photoshop technique beyond colors and brushing.  The final image, while having some direction in depicting an underwater image, didn't have enough of that push.  So I used the aptly named "Liquify" tool and made pushed around the image, making it wavy and wavering.  I was pretty happy with this image, from start to finish and I was also happy with the color scheme, something I'm always scared of. 

Thanks for reading.  

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Process: Insight on 'Beauty'

Insight on 'Beauty'

Hello.  Another blog post, another thing changed.  This is going to be a post specifically dealing with the process of one of my illustrations.  No real updates on the things I’m doing (it’s more of the same, with big news hopefully coming soonmaybeperhaps), but I like to see other artists’ processes and sharing my own could help anyone who reads what I write and possibly even give me some new insight.  I will probably be doing this more often - a focus on my illustrations, unless there's some big news I want to share.  

So with that, let’s start with ‘Beauty.’

There it(she) is (Probably because of the name I think of this piece as feminine).  What I remember most about this piece is how hard it was for me to create.  As you remember, I was illustrating for Bushwick Daily, and my art director forwarded to me a poem called 'Beauty' by Jennie Briedis, which you can read here.  

Now, I call myself a writer – but I am a fiction writer and scriptwriter.  I love short stories and I've written scripts.  Poetry is somewhat far from both my personal interests and my personal abilities.  I don’t have confidence in my knowledge or reading of poetry.  I’m sure you can understand my trepidation when I was asked to illustrate based on a poem.  I read it multiple times and it was hard for me to craft an image around it.  I did, however, notice the objects, the nouns, the ‘things’ that stood out to me in the poem.  

'anonymous beer kisses' 
'belly laughter'

But that’s all they were, just things and abstract things for the most part.  I couldn’t create a cohesive illustration out of all of it.  Instead of zooming into the poem, I took a step back.  I started with the title.  Beauty.  I read the whole thing over again.  This was about love, this was about some kind of summer, but this was also sad.  Something was forming.  I picked up my pencil and I started drawing.

To be honest, when I sent this sketch in, I wasn’t very confident in my illustration and I think it shows in the little detail that there is here.  I entertained the possibility that my interpretation of this poem could be completely off and nothing close to what the AD (art director) wanted.  But upon being sent the sketch, I was given many words of encouragement and the go-ahead to take the sketch to final.  

Since I got the go-ahead, I decided to have some fun.  The moon was a large aspect of my illustration once I got to color – circular motifs in general was.  However, the ‘thinginess’ of the poem was still stuck in me and I wanted to find a way to insert that in there.  I thought of putting beer bottles or other objects in the light circles above.  But I didn’t  - it was too distracting and made for an image that was too busy.  I think part of my style/voice is to have an illustration with a lot going on.  Figures, objects, colors.  Many times I look at other artists’ illustrations and admire how they can do so much with so little.  I was trying to exercise restraint and decided to keep things simpler.

But, there was still something off, see if you can note what it is (aside from not being finished).

I don’t know how obvious it is, but when I look at the before and after, they are completely different illustrations to me and the fact that I was able to make that change really marked a change in the way I paint.  The big difference is a consistency in color and mood; when I paint, I usually make the mistake of painting objects in the color I normally see them in, but not necessarily in the color they are in that scene.  Here I have a cliff and this boy with a shirt and blonde hair.  But every color is exactly what it is.  The cliff is this dark brown.  The shirt is green, and the hair is a bright yellow.  That would all be fine if the character was in plain daylight, but he’s not.  He’s staring at the moon in a nighttime setting.  After a long time of staring I realized – these colors are completely off.  I wasn’t 100% sure what colors they should be, but I was sure they were wrong.  So I changed them and made them more “nighttime” and turned it into what you see now.

I was really pleased with the final image even though I had so much hesitation when I first started.  Interestingly enough - and this might not be such a surprise because of the way I see things - even though "happiness" was a large part of the poem and what I picked out, the illustration is actually fairly moody.  I also enjoy how weird and surreal it is – I tend towards paintings that are real or possible; it’s nice to know I can take things a different path if I have to. More importantly, this painting gave me much more confidence with my color use– something I knew I needed the most work on. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Just like with writing, there are various contests, calls for submissions, openings etc, that give artists/illustrators/designers to put their work out there, gain a little recognition and maybe even win a little money. I rarely enter these.  The time it takes to research, find one that fits, or is even worth the effort is not time I am willing to spend at the moment. However, whenever an opportunity is presented to me and it is relatively free to take resource-wise, I'd be foolish not to.

In the spring I found a grant application opportunity for sequential artists, whether comic book authors, artists, graphic novelists, cartoonists, or others. It was a small grant and to apply, one had to fill out some paperwork and describe the sequential art project one wanted to fund in some way with the grant money. I chose to present my graphic novel idea, sending my storyboard, few pages I created among other things. I'd use the money to take actual art classes, specifically drawing and/or anatomy. Before I sent it, I looked at the application info once again to be sure I wasn't missing anything.  I looked closer and saw that the April deadline wasn't a deadline at all, it was when they'd announce the grant recipients. The deadline was in March. When I read this, it was April.  Whoops.

More recently I received an email from Society6, telling me they were going to put together an artists collaboration on a specific theme, "Vacancy". To be considered, all we needed to do was post a new artwork labeled "Vacancy". I had recently finished a painting and this was a perfect time to start something new.

The brainstorming process took a bit long but I eventually got a sketch, scanned it, and started adding color. This also took a while, and with everything else I had to do, the July 24th deadline was fast approaching. I put a few things on hold and devoted the majority of my day to finishing the painting. I even imagined that, worst-case scenario, I'd stay up all night and finish it. But there was no need, the end was in my grasp.  Some 30-90 minutes of work more, and there were still many hours to July 24th. I went on the Society6 website to look at any fine print for the opening. And that's where I saw it.  "Deadline July 22nd". Shit. 

These missteps in scheduling are frustrating but also helpful in that I'll make sure it won't happen again. I'm very loose when it comes to scheduling; I don't even keep a calendar. For the most part, that doesn't pose a problem but when keeping a calendar would prevent these types of timing mishaps, I feel stupid not having one.

I've realized that it is all about details and paying attention. If I took a little more time to read the application info, my email, I wouldn't be writing about this very topic. I don't have this problem with my art; I look at every virtual square centimeter to make sure it coincides with what I want. I zoom in and use a 5 pixel-size brush to work on the edge of a 4,000+ pixel-painting. Will anyone notice if I wasn't so meticulous?  Probably not, but if this was my job, it might be the difference between getting a call back in the future or losing that client. Even if no one ever noticed, I notice, and it matters to me. Everything around me should be treated with so much diligence and scrutiny. In the meantime, I will (might) use a calendar and vow to never miss a deadline again.

Because it's fitting, I'll talk about the creation of "Vacancy" and the one mess-up that still tells me I have a lot to learn.

It all started with the word 'Vacancy'. I thought of synonyms and similar ideas; a hole, empty, something missing. Then I thought of scenarios and images where something was missing. I originally had an idea of an empty head, but that led to nowhere. I thought of the idea of heartbreak, and how descriptions often described one as feeling "empty", with a "hole in one's heart", or feeling like the other person ripped the other's heart out.

I liked the idea and went through variations in my head, with the entire couple in the scene, being in the middle of the "heartbreak" or with the woman leaving the man who was the main character in all concepted forms of the piece. Many of these scenes didn't work mostly because of my lack of anatomy and perspective ability. So I went with a post-break up, head-on, flat image. Here was my pencil sketch.

The head was originally going to be full of hair but I kept seeing a hat whenever I started drawing the hair so it turned as such. The bloody remnants on the wall is my disgrace for subtlety and somewhat affinity for blood/gore (tastefully done.  I, most likely did not stay tasteful).  I was happy with this sketch and started on the color which is close to what the final illustration end up as.

A late addition was the reversed "I'm sorry" on the wall. I didn't want to push the message too much but without this, the image felt a bit flat and boring, I wanted something more exciting. The "I'm sorry" was originally on the paper, bent towards the viewer (you can kind of make it out in the pencil sketch).  But with the phrase spotlighted on the wall, I wanted it to come from the paper so I straightened the paper he was holding.  

And here's where I messed up.

My lack of lighting, perspective, and general draftsmanship knowledge hurt me here. If the light came from the paper, than the phrase should be distorted as such. Something like this.

Now this is a quick 90-second addition so it's nowhere near perfect either but the perspective fits better.  If the lighting was reversed or the text wasn't so dark, it would be easier to see that it's some kind of light and that it would be coming from some source on the bottom. 

The way the final illustration stands, the light is coming from straight ahead and there's little to no connection to the paper itself. I didn't catch this until after I posted it. Strangely, I feel like I can't do anything about it. I sent it out already, for anyone to see and deemed it finished, to go back and"fix" it feels like a dishonest move.

I'm not happy about it, but I'm okay with it.  Mistakes are inevitable, but it's important that I catch them and learn from them.  Having a little extra money in my pocket also means I'll be able to afford a few art books recommended by various artists I admire.  I don't expect for it to turn me amazing, but if it can teach me one thing, it's worth it.  In the meantime, I'll be working on my technical skills, hopefully reducing the chances of such mistakes.