Fireside Chats was an event where student body president, Melissa Westbrook, had an open forum with campus media agents such as Knight News, Central Florida Future, and Her Campus. This was an opportunity for media representatives and students to ask question regarding SGA’s goals and initiatives.
Melissa wanted an illustration that would represent the event in a friendly and approachable fashion. She came up with the idea of creating a cartoon version of herself to give the design a more colorful and approachable tone. She wanted the event to be considered something beyond just a “press conference,” but an event where everyone can feel comfortable asking questions about our organization.
The most important subject in the picture was obviously President Melissa Westbrook, so the first order of business was to tackle on what she should look like. Melissa provided photos of herself for reference, but also photos of Michelle Obama, a role model she really looks up to. She was really fond of her hairstyle and her dress and wanted to incorporate her likeness into her character. I drew our my vision of what Melissa would look like in that specific dress down to the matching heels and she was ecstatic about it. The original plan was to be able to see her entire body in the illustration. Unfortunately, when the podium was introduced, the heels were lost in the process, but the shape and color of dress was still able to show through the final illustration.
Originally, I wanted to use a rounded Fireside Chats logo with “President Westbook” following the circular path around. Melissa later decided she would rather see a more simplified seal instead of having this rounded logo. This worked out since it was must easier to transpose this new campaign-like pin design into the embossed seal of the podium.
The Digital Illustration
Once I sketched out objects, ideas, and mics, I scanned everything in and started placing my sketches around the artboards in Illustrator. This is when I busted out my Wacom Intuous 4 tablet and prepared my Illustrator calligraphy brushes to get down to business. I did all of my linework and text in Illustrator.
Once the lineart was set in place and the strokes expanded, I moved my illustration to Photoshop in layers. I did all of my coloring and texturing here, as well as resizing and recropping for the different print sizes and screen usages. With the coloring, I kept all of the lineart in its own layer. This lineart will remain untouched, and exists to separate one area of color to the next. Using the magic wand tool, I can select a blank area, expand the selection so that the selection overlaps the linework, then on a layer beneath the linework, I would apply a fill to that area, thus coloring it without damaging the lineart or leaving white pixels around the edges.
For shading, I used layers above the color layer with blending modes. For shadows, I used the multiply blending mode and painted over it with a low opacity brush to add soft shadows. Same thing for the highlights, but with a lighten, color dodge, or soft light blending mode.
Thank you for checking out my work! As always, comments and critiques are highly appreciated!