Making Of 'Fire Escape'

The first step in all of my paintings, whether it is a character or an environment, is to lay down the basic shapes. These shapes become the building blocks of the illustration, and without them it is easier for your illustration to fail (image 1).
After I have the basic shapes down I go ahead and start adding in some of the details, since most of this illustration is detail oriented and there are not many large shapes (image 2).

I usually try and put down windows a row at a time, that way it is easier to get them to line up (image 3 & 4).

Putting down some guidelines is a good idea as well to help line things up. You can put the guidelines on a separate layer so that you can easily delete them later (image 5, 6, 7 & 8).

I try and work zoomed out as much as possible when I am painting, that way I can see the entire composition and I don't get bogged down too much in details. Even when I am working on the fire escape I stay zoomed out to about 25%. The lines may look fairly straight, but if you zoomed in you would see that they are not. What people usually don't realize is that it takes me several attempts to make the line I want. If I put down a stroke I don't like, I undo and try again until I am satisfied by the line I made. I try not to use any straight line tools just because it makes things look too perfect and too mechanical (image 9 & 10).

The illustration is almost finished, so now I am just working on a few areas, such as the shadow side. I added a new multiply layer and put down some more darks (image 11).

For the final stages I add in the lower railing on the fire escape as well as adding in the windows on the shadow side. I also fixed some errors on the top railing of the fire escape. Always be aware of the illustration as a whole. You can have errors here and there, but if you started out with correct basic shapes and a good composition your illustration will still succeed (image 12).

Here is the final image.

To see more by Daarken, check out Elysium: The Art of Daarken

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