This year, I set myself a challenge of making one editorial illustration a month. In this blog I will document the process.
For January, the theme I picked is deforestation. In my research, I came across an interesting article in a Dutch weekly magazine. It's an in-depth story about the criminal practices in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, causing huge parts of the Amazon to be burned down illegally, to be replaced by cattle ranging areas.
Illustration process: brainstorming Ideas
I started by highlighting parts of the article that spoke to me or were key parts of the story. I narrowed these parts down to word associations such as 'loss of biodiversity', 'animals', 'silenced forest rangers' and 'Bolsanero'. Next, I started on some very rough thumbnail sketches.
I decided to go with the 'loss of biodiversity' theme, focusing on how the local nature and wildlife is being replaced by large plains filled with beef cattle.
Now that the idea is clear, it's time for a more detailed sketch! I decided to make a full page illustration, making sure to leave enough empty space to add a title and intro to the page as well.
I prefer to switch to digital (Ipad + Apple Pencil) for this part of the process, as it is easier and more time efficient to move things around, play with colors etc. Here's the initial sketch I made in Procreate:
Before starting at the final piece, I also decided to sketch some of the animals on paper, in order to work out the best process.
The final illustration
After sketching out the composition in pencil, I started by adding a first layer of watercolors. It's how I start most of my illustrations. It's the perfect base for layering colored pencil and wax crayons on top.
I wanted the cows to look as homogenous as possible, so I cut out a template and used that to make them all exactly the same size and shape.
I'm quite happy with how the illustration turned out. The reason I set this challenge for myself is to get more experience in editorial illustration, and to add more of this type of work to my portfolio. I do wonder if this first one is not too 'children's book-y' to be a serious editorial illustration. It's very colorful and it looks (and is!) very handmade, which is something you don't see often in magazines and newspapers.
Mocking up the illustration with Indesign and Photoshop
Time to add a title and mock up the illustration in a 'real' magazine! I added the title, intro, author and date in Indesign, found a mock-up online via graphicburger.com, and added the design to the mock-up in Photoshop. This gives me a better idea of how the illustration could look were it a real-world project. It's also a nice way to present the work of course!