Sunday, June 27, 2010

Illustration Friday - Satellite

Last week's word, 'Paisley' left lots of room for interpretation and a chance to explore pattern and color. This week, the word challenge was 'Satellite,' and I have to admit that I wasn't too excited when I opened my email and discovered it was the choice for the week. Nevertheless, I decided to go for it. At first, I bounced back and forth between two ideas - an outer space scene filled with satellites, and a more metaphorical scene depicting a beautiful flower being orbited by insects that circled the flower like little satellites. I think my second idea certainly has potential for a fun and colorful illustration, but I guess I just wasn't energized enough to pursue it (I think I will file that idea away though), so I went with my first, more obvious idea - a depiction of satellites in outer space. Since I've been working a lot with patterns lately, I decided to see what I could do with an outer space themed pattern.

I did a few sketches of satellites in my sketchbook and then went to my computer where I started trying to come up with an appropriate outer space background.  I tried lots of variations and had a difficult time coming up with something that I was happy with.  I started off with a very dark color scheme which I gradually developed into something much lighter.

I started adding some additional colors that I had planned to develop into gas clouds or nebulas, but they just never seemed to look right. I was getting frustrated fast.

Next I tried to see what would happen if I put the image through a posterize filter.  

After that I began to blend the colors, and to lighten them.

Then I decided to duplicate the layer a couple of times.  I tried some different layer blending modes, gave the whole thing a more overall blue color and then added some star-like growth patterns.  By this time, I was definitely getting closer to the image I had in my mind.

After lightening it even more, I finally had something I was happy with.

Here is the image after I started to do some freehand sketching of my satellites over the finished background.  Before starting to draw I had turned on the 'Define Pattern' mode so that anytime a line went off the edge, it would reappear on the opposite side of the drawing and would thus line up properly when tiled.  This of course, slowed down my pen a lot, which was frustrating. As you may notice, I originally had an extra satellite in the image, but I decided to take it out after doing a test of how the pattern looked when tiled.  The extra satellite, since it was a vertical object, tended to create a vertical stripe when the image was repeated so I decided to remove it.

Here is the final painted image after I removed the extra satellite.  You can see what the image looks like tiled as a pattern at the top of this post. 
Thanks for reading this, I hope you found it interesting.


  1. Nice pattern and design Vincent! Thanks for letting us in on your thought and creative process. This would have been a cool design for bed sheets when I was a kid. I would have loved it!!

  2. awesome! and I love look at how you have done it :)

  3. VERY interesting! Thanks!

  4. I love watching how people make things. Thanks so much for sharing! As a fan of Illustration Friday, I'm sure you've seen her, but just in case... Dani is amazing and she often posts videos of her screen as she draws in photoshop. Keep on making fun work Vincent!

  5. This is awesome. I really like the final outcome!