‘Warriors’ Illustration Example

I’m often asked how I go about creating the detailed illustrations I produce for poster/canvas printing, so decided (with kind permission of my client David) to show a basic outline here of how I generally go about my design process.

David requested an original, one-off illustration of the cult movie ‘The Warriors’ for himself, and left me with a blank canvas to create whatever I wanted.  I had a think, and came up with the concept of using the (30-YEAR-OLD SPOILER ALERT!!)  face-off at the end of the film as the basis for the design, and sent him my inital sketch to see if he liked the idea.

The general idea was showing ‘The Warriors’ with backs to the viewer, facing off against their main enemies from the movie, with their ‘turf’ Coney Island as the background and setting.  Next I produced a more detailed illustration for myself, with notes to start bringing the idea together.

Once I had the characters decided, I began to sketch out the main ones in pencil, again adding notes for lighting, shading, direction, etc.

Once I had them looking the way I wanted, I would scan them in high-resolution and take into Adobe Illustrator.  Here I would start filling in solid lines, before doing some colour blocking and finish off by doing the details, shading, hair, and so on.

Once the foreground characters were done, I would move onto creating the background (in this instance, done by researching the Coney Island beach, boardwalk, etc) before adding in all the background characters, and any other necessary extras.  This is often the hardest part, especially in a multi-character piece.  With this one I decided to have ‘The Warriors’ looming large in foreground, while trying to capture the aggression of the other gangs in front of them.

Finally, once I felt the overall tone of the piece was right, I sent it onto David for his approval before sending it off to the printer.  I rarely send anything to the client until I am happy with it myself, that way there are usually less alterations required, as they are seeing the final piece as we discussed.  Any changes tend to then be just moving items around.  However, it never goes to print unless they are happy with it, as they will (hopefully) have it hanging on a wall for many years, and the main thing for me is that they love it!

Here was how the final piece turned out (click to enlarge):


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