Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Illustration Friday - Burning

The word for this week's 'Illustration Friday' is "Burning." This doesn't happen very often, but when reading this week's word, I immediately had two ideas. The first was to illustrate something using the phrase 'burning desire,' because it's something I recall from an old song, the name of which I've been trying to remember (unsuccessfully) all week. I couldn't quite remember how the lyric went either, so instead of wasting time trying to track it down, I decided to go with my other idea. That idea was to do a funny depiction of the "Burning Man" festival that is held every year in a dry lake bed in Nevada. At the end of the festival, a large wooden sculpture of a man is set on fire, hence the name 'burning man.' I've never been to the festival, but I know people who have gone and I even have one friend who is such a regular attendee of the festival that he considers himself and his wife 'burners.' I have seen lots of pictures from the festival (try Googling 'Burning Man' and you'll come up with hundreds of photos) and one thing that you see a lot of in the pictures is nudity and body paint, but there are also lots of people in outlandish and imaginative costumes. I decided to keep my depiction 'G' rated, so I went the costume route for my characters.

The style I went for was heavily influenced by Jim Flora, the illustrator of many cool album covers from the 1940s and 50s and then later, children's books. I created this image in two parts. First, using Corel Painter, I did the painting that you see in the upper right.  I primarily used the gouache brushes, but I also used the scratchboard tool and a calligraphy pen for some of the line work.  To make the dashed lines, I used a calligraphy pen brush and then used an eraser brush to erase parts of the line.

Once I was happy with the image, I saved it as a tif file, opened it in Photoshop and ran the image through some third party filters (Permanent Press's Mister Retro and Machine Wash) and a few that come with Photoshop. I did lots of experimenting until I finally got to a version that satisfied me (lower color image).  The problem with trying out so many variations and doing so much experimenting is that, unless you write down every step along the way, you'll probably never be able to duplicate the exact same effects and look. Oh well, the important thing is that I created an illustration that I'm happy with.

To the left is the original Painter digital pencil sketch that I created as my guide for painting the final piece.


  1. This is really good! The Burning Man always reminded me of the 1970's movie The Wicker Man.

  2. the Wicker man was what I thought of also.

  3. Vincent, these are both great, but I love the fiery reds and oranges of the second version. The joyful nature is perfectly captured with both color options - What a gas this festival must be!
    Happy blog anniversary! :o)

  4. Love the second version. The colours work so well together and the characters are fun!

    And I know exactly what you mean about experimenting in Photoshop! It's easy to just go crazy with all the options till you end up with a version of your sketch you like, only to realize you have no idea how you actually did it!


  5. I really like this! Sounds me tribal, profane, ritualistic and pretty funny artwork!

  6. I'm afraid this is much like Duval Street in Key West (my gallery's there) on a loooong week-end. But this could only be a better crowd! This is a nice,rich palette! I like the dark values.

    SONG: That Old Black Magic? '...burning desire. And only your kiss/ can put out that fire.'

  7. I'm so elated to see your blog. its wonderful to see your work here. Really :)

    I love the simplicity of your work.
    Keep inspiring.

    Warm wishes from a far away land...