Drawn to Food

Peppers and Onion Illustration

Peppers and Onion; traditional/digital hybrid illustration

In addition to being a major food-enthusiast, I am an illustrator and designer. Throughout the years, I have gone through many phases of subjects I would commonly choose to illustrate. Back in kindergarten, it was bunny rabbits…high school, cartoons of skateboarders…college, scientific astronomy objects…and now–you guessed it–food!

In all of the art classes I took throughout my education, I recall many other students moaning in disdain about having to draw yet another “boring” still life, often filled with typical objects such as food, flowers, vases, etc. True; the food had no racing stripes, the flowers had no long, flowing locks of hair, and the vases had no bulging muscles. There was something, however, that was always so beautiful and comforting about capturing the fundamental and organic qualities of these items. I admit, I really could have taken or left the flowers and vases, but I always thoroughly enjoyed illustrating the food. When assigned sketchbook homework, more times than not I would raid my fruit basket and refrigerator crisper drawer for the subjects.

I have been drawing since as far back as I could remember…I recall finding myself doodling even before I learned to write. Growing up, my media of choice was most often pencil. If adding color, I would typically use oil or chalk pastels. Over the years, I eventually began painting a bit, mostly with acrylic colors.

As the digital age arose and heightened, I found myself adopting more and more computer-based techniques. I was not, however, able to abandon my time-honored traditional roots altogether. Fortunately, I found a way to combine traditional and digital methods in a way that was comfortable and familiar, yet able to harness the power of modern technology. The following is a basic walk-through of my typical process:

Peppers and Onion Reference PhotoIn my practice, an accurate observational illustration always starts with a good reference. With food, it often takes me far longer to complete the illustration than it does for the food to stay fresh, so I usually begin by taking a photograph so I can refer to it indefinitely.

1From there, I compose a sketch on good old-fashioned pencil and paper. I may fill in some very basic details, but typically at this point I only do a basic outline and save the shading, rendering, and coloring for later…

2After scanning the line drawing into my computer, I use it as the foundation for digital rendering and coloring in Adobe Photoshop using my trusty Wacom tablet. Still referring to the photograph, I begin by laying down large blocks of solid base color.

5I continue to add shade variants, shadows, highlights, and any other fine details until the image is fully rendered. Using this hybrid of traditional and digital mediums has become the most effective way for me to experience the best of both old school and new school illustration.

I enjoy the process quite a bit, and I hope you can look forward to seeing more of my food-inspired artwork added to the blog in the future!

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