Art Showdown – Illustrator Vs Procreate
Updated: Jul 15, 2021
My latest piece, Breathe, was based on an earlier experiment. Read on to see how it came to life.
At the end of April I created a personal project exploring the idea of nature as a grounding, nurturing and inspiring force. The project was challenging, and since then I've felt it stuck out a little – the colours, face, or whatever it was, didn't fit with my portfolio or style. I had it printed for a local exhibition, and afterwards put it to one side and forgot about it.
Until one day, I decided to tidy my studio. The print caught my eye, and something clicked – the cherry blossom trees in the background reminded me of lungs. Suddenly, I had an idea for reworking the piece and creating a stronger concept.
Excited, I sketched out the artwork again, having the character's body face straight on to include lungs. The path still wasn't straightforward though, and I wrestled with the artwork, trying to keep the colours and elements of the original.
Perhaps it needs more, I thought, and added flowers to the body. That didn't work. There was now too much going on, and my lung-as-tree concept wasn't clear. Next, I tried making the hair pink, and the body a bright green. It was starting to take shape, but it still didn't have the effect I was looking for. I tried it all in pink, or with brown hair, or using the background of the original piece
Frustrated, I took a coffee break to recharge and tackle it again with fresh eyes and more patience. Slowly, I began to let go of preconceived ideas to get to the heart of the piece. I thought back to what I wanted to express through the character – a sense of calm and wonder. I opened her eyes so that she might connect with the viewer more. I changed her lungs to green to clarify and simplify the concept. Next, I narrowed the colours down even further, matching her hair to the same shade and removing the skin colour altogether, making her more ethereal and symbolic, like a woodland nymph.
Finally, I added a watercolour paper texture background and a white border to add a sense of a handcrafted painting, and the final result is one I'm happy to add to my portfolio.
Time-lapse of the full process on Vimeo
It surprised me how different it was from the original artwork. I still like the idea of the rainbow hair, and a woman tattooed in flowers, but I don't have to include all my ideas in one piece – they deserve paintings in their own right.
I hope you realise now that just because a creative project isn't working out, it doesn't mean it's not going to, or that it's a bad idea, or that you can't create art. Especially if it's a self-directed piece, with limited outside feedback. If you like it, keep working on it, show it to others, and you'll get there in the end.