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The Vanishing Man

December of 2014 turned out once again to be one of my busiest months. Busy is a good thing! However, this illustration assignment for Fox Sports ended up slowing me down in a good way because of the somber subject matter I was asked to illustrate. Be sure to read the full story by Flinder Boyd here: http://www.foxsports.com/feature/vanishing-man-the-disappearance-of-rico-harris

For this project, I had the good fortune of working with Heidi Roller. She sent over a perfectly detailed brief and we were off. Here's how it came together...

Sketches

We started with a handful of sketches to get the basic layout and composition. Heidi wanted to see the central figure somewhat obscured by trees since its a story of a man going missing in the woods. 

Sketch

It took a few sketches to land on just the right balance of dense trees vs. readable space. With these types of composition, I like to use the trees and rocks to frame and break up the illustration. I'm always thinking about the implicit and explicit lines created by the direction of my shapes and I try to use that to move the eye around the piece.

Flats

One of my favorite steps is doing black and white flats. In the sketch phase, I define layout and composition. In the flats stage, I define shape, lighting, and texture.

Black and White Flats

I always seem to get a lot of questions on this step, though there really isn't much magic to this point of my process (that's not to say this step isn't fun!). I'm basically using black and white as my color values, coloring in each object you see using custom pressure sensitive brushes and my wacom cintiq. Once these flat values are established and this phase is complete, I move onto the next step - replacing each value with a color of my choice. Because I work on layers, I can change the color of anything whenever I want (that is, until the file starts getting so big I have to collapse layers).

Color

With the flats in place, its time for color. I presented 2 color options and, once the client spent some time with each option, the final direction was chosen.

Rejected Color Option

I've included some detail shots below. Hope you enjoy! Big thanks to Heidi Roller for the fun project and to my agent, Deborah Wolfe, for the tireless amount of work she put in to help 2014 be what it was for me!

Brian MillerComment