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Summer Cookout: Boil That Hipster Down

June 1, 2011

I recently did an illustration for The Anvil, a very funny fake news site. It was for a post called Vegetarian Recipes for Memorial Day. Here’s the final.

Scroll down for a look at how the texture background was created.

hipster with fedora, iPod, and water bottle being cooked in pot by cannibal wearing chef's hat and holding big knife and fork

Here’s the original B&W rough sketch:B&W sketch of hipster with fedora, iPod, and water bottle being cooked in pot by cannibal wearing chef's hat

The sketch had a lot of energy so I decided to clean it up and use it for the final, rather than do a new drawing and risk losing the energy. I used the Eraser tool, I also used the Pen tool to redraw certain lines. I added certain photo elements to give the illustration a trendy look. Here’s what it looks like without the background:hipster with fedora, iPod, and water bottle being cooked in pot by cannibal wearing chef's hat with original texture background deleted

Speaking of trendy, many of today’s illustrations use textures for their backgrounds. I decided to experiment with this look. I began by downloading the following free texture from CGTextures. It can be found under Metal>Galvanized.galvanized texture downloaded from cgtextures.com

The sensible thing at this point would have been to insert the above texture behind my image, seen how it looked, and made color adjustments accordingly. But I was reckless. I applied a Hue/Saturation adjustment to the texture as is, without putting it in context. I experimented with different settings and finally settled on this result:galvanized texture after applying Hue/Saturation adjustment in Photoshop to boost colors

Then I posterized the image, Adjustments>Posterize:galvanized texture after both Hue/Saturation and Posterize adjustments applied in Photoshop

Finally, I chose Adjustments>Channel Mixer and mixed away until I had something that looked like a bad LSD trip. I remember thinking: cool!galvanized texture after applying Channel Mixer adjustments in Photoshop

Then I inserted the texture behind my main image, and saw I’d painted myself into a pretty ghastly corner:adjusted galvanized texture pasted in behind hipster in cook pot and cannibal wearing chef's hat

I was able to correct the situation by taking these steps, using trial and error all the way:
1) I applied a Hue/Saturation adjustment to both desaturate and lighten the garish colors; 2) I used the Liquify tool to stretch and distort the texture, in effect, “thinning” it out; 3) I cropped out the black box border, then used a soft spongy Eraser at low-opacity to dampened down the colors and create a soft semi-transparent edge; 4) I applied the Dodge tool to the area around the main figures, reducing the texture background there to near-transparency, making the figures easy to see:hipster, cookpot, cannibal image with texture scaled down, stretched, colors desaturated, and edges partially erased and smudged

Final steps: I used the Burn tool to create a bit of ground shadow to anchor the
image, and a soft Brush at low-opacity on a separate layer to create some smoke. (FWIW: I decided the smoke was a little too dark, so I applied a layer mask which allowed me to lighten the smoke by “whiting out” the overly dark spots with a soft,
low-opacity brush.) Here’s the final again:

hipster with fedora, iPod, and water bottle being cooked in pot by cannibal wearing chef's hat and holding big knife and fork

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. June 1, 2011 9:24 PM

    Love the colour in your artwork. It really brings the illustration to life. I wish my stuff had that.

    • June 1, 2011 10:53 PM

      Thanks so much for the nice compliment. Everything evolves over time, including one’s use of color. And as this post proves, it’s easy to go astray!!

      I like your style, and I like Peke Penguin. Keep at it, try new things, you’re doing fine. Thanks a lot for stopping by! : )

  2. June 1, 2011 11:28 PM

    That was a fascinating tutorial. Thanks. :)

    • June 2, 2011 7:05 AM

      Always fascinating to watch a guy try to recover from his own disastrous color schemes… : (

      Very glad you enjoyed the post, always a pleasure to have you stop by!

  3. June 2, 2011 7:49 AM

    Another wonderful illustration and tutorial. Love the colours and how well it works altogether.
    I’m going to put that website on my favourite list for future reference =]

    • June 2, 2011 9:18 AM

      And I’m putting you on my list of favorite visitors! Thanks so much for stopping by, and for your kind comments and support. Hope you enjoy your summer holiday! : )

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