We recently worked in conjunction with the University of Akron to create art for a Design Week, “Fontoween” poster. The five-color poster was printed at our studio by a group of design students, who, over the course of three days, learned the ins and outs of screen printing and hopefully had a good time in the process. Apparently learning can be fun, especially when it involves glow-in-the-dark ink, one particularly gnarly zombie and a whole lot of illustrated intestines.
Our illustrator, Joe, walks us through his illustration process and offers us a glimpse of what goes on every day inside those delicious, pink bwains of his.
I start with a basic concept and pull from various sources of inspiration and reference. For the zombie pose, I photographed myself gnawing on my TV remote, which I will not show due to the unflattering nature of the photo. After a brainstorming session, I quickly sketched a rough concept of what I imagined for the poster. This original concept served as my blueprint for the poster building process.
Next, I grabbed a set of Micron pens and a fine point Sharpie and started to draw the zombie’s head. A majority of people might start with pencil and work up to markers — committing to the artwork is a big step —but I’ve always been comfortable skipping pencil all together.
Each body part was drawn individually (and on separate sheets of paper), so I would have more control of the final art as it was scanned into the computer. After the head was done, I worked my way to his hands, neck and body — continuing to reference the original sketch as well as shots of my own hands.
The smooth, shiny intestine-like ‘Fontoween’ had to have a different feel than his rough, sketchy skin. Figuring out exactly how the word would work was one of my favorite parts of this project — it’s not often that my creative challenge for the day includes illustrating words out of a string of innards.
Using a sheet of vellum, I sketched the letters over the drawings of the zombie’s body, working it in through his hands and mouth. It was very important to me that I incorporated his hands, which eventually were utilized to form the ‘F’ and the ‘W’. Working with the twists, turns, and loops of the intestines, I created the other letter shapes.
After all of the illustrations were done, I scanned the artwork at 300 dpi and adjusted the levels for maximum contrast. I was left with a black outline of all of the artwork; using the pen tool, I blocked in the shapes and shadows and started to add different color layers to bring the walking dead to life.
Then, once all of the colors were done and trapping was accounted for, I went in with Photoshop brushes to give the artwork a slightly distressed look.
Finally, as the finishing touch, I put a bird on it.