BigEyes Illustration #1: Birdwatcher

A while back I began doodling down some funny-looking characters. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them, so I’ve kept a growing pile on my desk. They proceeded to fade from my mind for a while, but last week the inspiration re-emerged. Yesterday I decided to start developing my sketches into a series of matching illustrations. Below is a glimpse of my process.


A selection of sketches:

BigEyes sketches selection


The more I drew these characters, the more surreal they became. I like this aspect, it’s quite different from what I usually create. I like that. Change is good. Variation is key. And all that stuff.

BigEyes TeaReader copy

I began thinking about the visual style. For a moment I considered a “tarot card meet comic book” merger, but as you can see above, this plan failed. I realize it might have worked out if I had continued to work on it, but by this point, having finished this painting, I was no longer convinced that my chosen concept offered the best look for my illustration series. Yet, there’s always a bright side! The original sketch for this painting only had one three leaves. Some of the other drawings had one or a few flying objects, and two had a objects repeated around them in circles. I decided a surrounding circular path of objects could link all of the illustrations together, as well as offer a bit of curiosity or additional information to the viewer.

Big eyes Feathers (blue)

This sketch is one of my favourites. I believe it might also be the first BigEyes character I drew, so I suppose it deserves to go first.

Moodboard Bigeyes

There is another side to this story. The day I started thinking about transforming my BigEyes sketches into illustrations was also the day I held a small guest lecture about production design. I thought about the process I had been explaining, and all of the sudden it annoyed me that I have yet again neglected to follow the oh so simple recipe handed to me in college, the very basic approach to starting any design project. Step one: inspiration and references. I hope this explains the moodboard above.

BigEyes Leaves Outline Sketch

I began by importing the scanned drawing into Photoshop and tracing over it with a soft brush.

I had already decided I wanted to keep the color palette simple, by sticking to one main hue with a bit of variation in saturation and brightness. In the development sketches above, I experimented with texture and outline. I eventually sided with the second one, really liking the roughness and smoky feel of it. I think the perfectionist in me really wanted to go for number five or six, and so I decided to go with an alternative contradicting these. I’m trying something new, no chickening out!

Semi-confident with my selection, I went onto experimenting with color and layer modes. I’m torn between the three last ones, but am possibly leaning towards the final blue one.


Oh, and also, here’s a sneak peek for the next one:

BigEyes Clown pr02