Windy City

A illustrative design completed in Adobe Photoshop.

I started with a pencil and pen drawing on a paper sketchpad. I then photographed it and placed it in a 8000 by 5000 pixel photoshop document to smooth out the line work a little more.
I laid down these initial lines in Photoshop with an Intuos 3 in a thin, pencil-style brush of my own making.
 
I've been toying with the new Cintiq, but it has a lot of faults and quirks that are making me think perhaps a Yiynova might be a better investment. What do you think?
I then made a new brush, using textures and opacity to create a brush with a realisting, tapering line to draw thicker outlines on another layer.
 
I like stylized illustrations over hyper-realistic images. I like to differentiate my illustration clearly from my photography.
Next up I imported a background I had previously created out of vectors in Adobe Illustrator. I wanted to use the sky, but replace the beach with my city.
I like to make my compositions like Ridley Scott's now-famous 75 layer cake theory. I especially like to fill the air with particles to suggest depth and, in this case, the movement of the wind.
 
I decided to fill the foreground, middle distance and background of the image with the figure, the sakura and the city skyline respectively.
 
The beauty that could be achieved by filling the air with floating particles or lights of some kind was first suggested to me by the video game The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and the movies "Dreams" by Akira Kurosawa.
Next up, I drew in my city shape with an angular brush, then filled in that skyline with a city texture I created.
 
I drew some fog into the cityscape and thinned out the contrast of the layers as they receded to suggest depth and distance.
Next I added the sun, lens flare and the ledge of the structure on which the figure is standing. The grotesque-like ledge was inspired by the eagles on the Chrysler Building in New York.
 
I decided to blur the background and the sakura in the middle distance, to suggest a camera lens. I kept the sakura petals in the foreground sharp.
Next I added highlights to the main figure and some anime-style wind/dust streaks. Things like this used to delight when I was a kid. Although I don't find much that is stimulating or interesting in Japanese animation today, but I still have fond memories of the movies of my youth and I like to add a sprinkling of the style to my images.
 
I added some motion blur to the wind streak behind the figure and to the sakura petals in the foreground. I made sure the end of the ledge was starting to lose contrast, thinned out the fog settling over the city and curved the landscape to suggest a wide-angled lens.
 
These things are all subjective, but I find as long as my images don't become generic and formulaic anime templates, then I enjoy showing a little Japanese influence. The color scheme was suggested by the movie "Tekkon Kinkreet", one of my favourite anime movies.
As a photographer, I often like to play around with adjustments, blended layers and other applications after I've completed an illustration to see if I can find any interesting ideas I hadn't yet thought of. There's something very satisfying about a lucky accident when creating an image.
 
In this case it was finding the right black and white mode in Fotor for Mac, which gave me an alternative version that I found interesting.
 
I hope you like the final image. When I uploaded some drafts to G+ a couple of people said they prefered the dark pencil and ink illustration to the final version. I found the opinion interesting and was wondering if anyone else felt the same way. It's not the style I was aiming for in the image, and I was certain of the color range I wanted, but I was interested in how prevalent that opinion was.
 
If you have any thoughts either way, I'd be very interested to hear them, so get in touch here and let me know.
 
Thanks,
 
Andy

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