Making of 'Fagin's Lot'
This illustration began as a challenge I suggested between a few coworkers of mine. There was no real competition as such, but the idea was to create a finished illustration from the phrase 'Away We Go'. We could do anything we wanted as long as we used the phrase as a starting point. I began my usual way by going through some music, listening for a song that stirred something inside me. The song 'Californication' by The Red Hot Chili Peppers really resonated with me musically, and I started to get an image of a group of soldiers trucking through the desert on some transport. So that's where I began a couple of nights later. I started with this character sketch and tried out a couple of different head piece designs. My idea of soldiers was turning into something more like mercenaries/pirates. (Fig.01)
Then I moved out from the figure I'd sketched and established the overall illustration.Â It was a weird way to work and would cause me to make many changes laterÂ on, but it's how this piece transpired.Â As you can see the transportÂ also changed intoÂ a tank. (Fig.02)
After settling on the middle guy's design I reworked the surrounding soldiers until I had a pleasing composition of figures. (Fig.03)
It was at this point that I showed my wife and she suggested making the soldiers kids, to make it more interesting. I dug the idea but wanted to keep the middle guy since I liked his design. This new change of direction now reminded me of the gang Oliver Twist hooks up with under the crooked leadership of the thief, Fagin. I had my story now. I threw the flag back in but with a Lord of the Flies type of pig head and crossbones now. (Fig.04)
The next step was to refine the character drawings. (Fig.05)
Next I blocked in a value setup and set the overall colour temperature of the piece. To do this I set the line art layer to 'multiply' and painted on a new layer underneath it. (Fig.06)
I felt the flag needed to be a dark mass to balance the piece better, and I started working out my colour palette.(Fig.07)
More changes ensued. I refined my values some more and worked out some of the cast shadows. I also continued to make changes to the drawing for a better composition. Fagin's hanging hand seemed bothersome so I brought it up to his mouth. The ambiguous hatch to the left of him became another child. I added the girl peeking out of the hatch and the strapped on supplies to the right of the image to reinforce a better pyramid composition. It was at this point that I also decided that the tank would be flying, but I would only hint at it by putting low-flying birds in the scene and putting stars in the sky. I wanted that to be more of a feeling than a literal read. (Fig.08)
Now that everything was finally established I flattened the image and began painting over it starting with Fagin's head and working out to refine everything. (Fig.09)
More refinements, details added and pieces were shifted here and there. I spent all my time at this stage working out the details, fleshing everything out. I added little things here and there to enhance story, like the pet rat. (Fig.10)
Finally, I finished it off with all the changes I felt necessary and last details like the graffiti and dirt on the tank. (Fig.11)
The piece took me about a full work week, so 40 hours or so, but that was stretched out to 8 weeks because I did it in my spare time (which isn't much these days). I think the process was a bit of a disaster and took longer than it could have, but it came out alright in the end. I'll definitely consider my values earlier on next time instead of focusing all that time on the drawing.
My personal goal in doing this was to push myself to my limit, to really see where my skills are at. I work days as a concept artist and almost everything I do is both sketchy and unfinished, or a singular piece like a character design, so illustrating multiple characters interacting in a scene was very challenging for me.
And that about sums it up! Thank you for your time.