Over the past couple of years, my illustration process has changed. I've adapted to a digital workflow as opposed to paper/scan process - don't get me wrong, I love getting ideas out when they strike directly into a notebook. This can be either a quick illustration or jotting down a quick reminder which means I have ideas to come back to when I get the chance. For my digital process, I've been able to translate how I used to illustrate on paper, and work more efficiently from start to finish.
I always start with a basic sketch layer, getting composition and a rough idea of shading down - I'm not to precious in this stage and find it easier to be a bit rough with it to get the idea out. Next, I'll create a new layer for 'inking' in which I'll create all my final outlines for the design. I use a thicker brush for this, and add weight to some of the areas which will have shading added to it. From here, I use a lighter brush to add the finer details/line shading as this adds a bit more depth to the design and helps add more of a flow to a design like the one below. I'll add a textured shader layer, mainly made up of dots to finish up the shading - the textured look has always been something I have leaned towards and I think it just gives the design that weathered look. For the 'Beauty Buried Beneath' design in particular I knew I wanted to print it gold on black, so then I'll add a colour layer and change the paper colour to get a good idea of how the final piece will look.
I've sampled a lot of brush packs since switching my illustration process to digital, as mentioned previously I like the rough textured brushes which give the lines a nice over-bleed as I feel it gives my illustrations that natural effect - like how an actual pen would bleed over in different areas. Getting this just right is something I've worked towards for a while now and have found this through Boredom Kills Creative's Inky Boy's brush pack*. I use the liner brushes on all of my illustrations now, I've got them set up to specific weights that transfer to our screen printing process perfectly. The detail in the texture is just what I was looking for and they've given my illustration the perfect rough finish.
I caught up with Alex and he explained what he aimed to create through the Inky Boys brush packs* - “As soon as I found a more textured approach to my work I was hooked. It meant I could instantly create the artwork I loved, with rough line work and halftones. For me, that vintage Americana diner vibe was always a huge inspiration growing up, and having spent a lot of time in the US in my early 20’s, it was something I had to inject into my brushes!” - Alex Adams - Boredom Kills Creative
*AD - Grab your copy of the 'Inky Boys' brush pack through our affiliate link here