Editorial Illustrations

Editorial Illustrations

38 39 C Haggard V1

I usually don’t post these projects here, but I thought this was a good example of some of the quickie spot illustrations that i do for a few magazines on a monthly basis.  For the most part, I enjoy doing these types of illustrations to test my problem solving skills visually.

I like this one because the client request was kind of confusing:
“An illustration of George, the 120-pound chocolate lab with Elvis, Molly’s dapper-dressed teddy bear in his mouth next to Cheryl who is peering underneath Molly’s bed looking for Elvis… is this even possible?”

There are a few things to keep in mind about this one:
– This is a family oriented magazine with predominantly female readers.
– The ‘Cheryl’ character has a look that I’ve cultivated over the years, I need to stick with this look.
– Cheryl should not be viewed as sexy or attractive unless requested.
– The editor usually likes muted, light, airy illustrations so a pastel washed palette is best.

I decided that with the horizontal space that I had to work with, a ground level drawing with all the main assets stacked up in front of each other was the best way to go (see the sketch below).  This means that the meat of the composition will be at the bottom of the cartoon, with Cheryl behind a bedspread and a dog in front of them all.  This complicates the composition because all of the focal points that tell the story are in a line and cluttered into the lower half of the space.  This is not the ideal triangle shape for a composition, but it looked good in the initial sketch so I just went with it.

I should state that I have been working with this client for years now, multiple times a month so she is used to my style and what to expect in a final illustration.  This sketch is pretty loose and doesn’t have any value or shading, she just needs to see the concept to move ahead.  If I am working with a new client, I will usually tighten up the sketch and add in some grayscale values so there aren’t too many surprises when the final comes through.

Once the initial sketch was approved by the client (she had no changes and gave me the thumbs up) I moved on to ink. Ink is pretty simple, I just do it on a second layer using 100% black.  I always work in a higher resolution than I will need for the final so if they want a re-size it won’t be a re-do.

Finally, the color layer.  I just cover the whole illustration with a 50% gray then use the lasso tool to select all my highlights and brighten them using the brightness/contrast and hue/saturation tools.  Once i have my highlights and shadows in, I just use the ‘color’ tool and hue/saturation tools to add as much color as I need.  I had to do a few rounds of adjustment on the dog to get him to stand out against Cheryl, but I think he works as is.

Finally, I like to break up the straight lines at the edges of the composition to add more excitement to the illustration – most times it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but in this case it did.


Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things.