Illustrating from sketch to final piece > online reviews

It’s time for another ‘from sketch to final piece’. This one is an illustration that was published a few weeks ago in a Dutch magazine called ‘Reisgids’. It was about online reviews and if they’re actually worth anything, with restaurants and hotels trying to manipulate guests into giving 5 stars or even paying people who have never even set foot in the place to write something nice about them. Interesting stuff. And really nice to illustrate.

Since this was client work, I can tell you a little about how these things work. After being asked if I was interested and had the time to make an illustration – having no idea what the topic will be at that point – I get a rough version of the text. In this case together with the global layout of the article, so I can see exactly where they need my illustrations and how big they need to be. I needed to make one main illustration and a smaller one the next page.

The layout of the Reisgids with yellow areas for where my illustrations need to go
This is how I receive the layout, so I can see where they need my illustrations

I read the text, underline what speaks to me and doodle ideas at the edges of the paper. I wish I could show you – even though they’re visually not that interesting – but I throw these things out after the job is done. I’ll try to document a little more of the process next time.

A follow up is usually a bit harder, because you don’t want competing ideas, they need to be in line with each other, without depicting the same thing.

The ideas for this topic came quite easily. While reading I visualized being manipulated by someone while writing a review on a computer, like a puppet on a string. That had to be the main illustration. A follow up is usually a bit harder, because you don’t want competing ideas, they need to be in line with each other, without depicting the same thing. I started thinking in terms of ‘things are not always what they seem’ and came up with a mirror, showing 5 stars by reflecting the first (real) 2,5 stars.

I did some research, found and made a couple of reference photos and started sketching.

Researching. Figuring out how things work: hands and puppeteer handles
Researching. Figuring out how things work: hands and puppeteer handles
The sketches I showed the client for their approval
The sketches I showed the client for their approval

It depends on how well the client knows me and my work and on how much time I have whether I make a quick sketch just for the idea or if I polish it a bit more before I show it. In this case I just quickly drew the handle bars just for the idea. As you can see. And then hope the client knows it will all be just fine in the end.

In situations like this it is really helpful that I am an editorial designer as well.

While sketching I keep the layout as a transparant background, so I know it will fit. I sent these to the client as well, so they see what I have in mind. In this case I suggested they lower the headline for the first illustration and shift the columns a bit for the second. In situations like this it is really helpful that I am an editorial designer as well. I know what the options are and how to make the illustration work best with the layout.

I sent the sketches back to the client, with some suggestions for the layout
I sent the sketches back to the client with some suggestions for the layout, like lowering the headline and changing the columns so the illustrations would fit in nicely.

These sketches are discussed at the magazine and I adjust them according to their feedback. They suggested two hands typing would look more natural, if I could manage that without getting all tangled up in the chords. Totally agreed, so I changed that sketch to two hands and a bigger handle bar.

Second sketch (WIP): two hands typing
Second sketch (WIP): two hands typing

Refining your sketches, even if you only use it as a reference, will save you time in the end.

After refining the sketches – so all the elements are where I want them to be – I can start with the final artwork, coloring and connecting all the dots. I use this sketch underneath, but basically I start all over. Obviously this takes hours and hours. Making a proper final sketch really helps, so you don’t end up changing things around after you already started adding details and merging layers. Refining your sketches, even if you only use it as a reference, will save you time in the end.

I keep the sketches underneath to work on the final illustration / illustration by Annemarie Gorissen
I keep the sketches underneath to work on the final illustration / illustration by Annemarie Gorissen

And then it’s time to send them off to the client and wait for the printed copy to arrive….

So happy when the printed copy arrives at my doorstep / photo by Annemarie Gorissen
So happy when the printed copy arrives at my doorstep / photo and illustration by Annemarie Gorissen
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2 thoughts on “Illustrating from sketch to final piece > online reviews

  1. Hartstikke leuk om te lezen wat er allemaal bij komt kijken om zo’n mooi en ter zake doend resultaat te krijgen Annemarie!

    1. Dank voor je reactie! Het komt steeds een beetje meer in mijn systeem om de verschillende stappen van zo’n klus tussentijds vast te leggen, voor later gebruik op het blog… dus als het goed is worden ze steeds completer 🙂

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