Process post: Illustrating for Pandodaily

[Last winter I was interviewed to be featured in an online magazine. I was asked to write a couple of process posts. I recently found out the feature was cancelled, so I'm sharing them here. Below is the "process post" I wrote about illustrating this article for Pandodaily.]
My job as a full time illustrator at Pandodaily is a unique challenge. I'm usually online by 9:30 AM. I do some some warm-up sketching as I have my coffee and find images for our morning stories. By eleven or so, our writers have filled out the schedule, so I know which article(s) I'm going to illustrate that day. Sometimes I have 40 minutes to draw something. Sometimes I have 5 hours. Every day is different.

On this day, Sarah sent me a message around noon to tell me she was writing a post about the debate around whether women can "have it all" - a family and a career. She was still working on it, but I read what she had so far - It was enough to get an idea of her main point. I began to sketch around 1pm, and the story was going to be published at 5PM.

Sarah's article reminded me of an idea I'd had in my head for a while - of a magician cutting a woman in half to symbolize how a woman is divided between work and family. I did some rough sketching to see how it might look. I decided the concept was successful.

Next I did a small but detailed draft, with all the major elements I wanted to include. The border and the little phrases in the corners just came naturally as I was drawing. I had just read the wonderful Hall of Best Knowledge by Ray Fenwick, and you can directly see his influence in this illustration. I'm fairly shameless about integrating what I like into my work (related reading: Steal Like an Artist). I enlarged my sketch in the photocopier.  I wanted to have more control of the detail in my final draft because I would be using a brush and ink.

Then I put the photocopy on my light board. On a thicker piece of paper, I traced the lines more carefully with a pencil and worked out the details more carefully. I inked using 2 small brushes - one for lines and one to fill in black space. 

When it was partially inked I was pretty tired of looking at it, so I paused to look at it through my kaleidoscope. There it was - already a masterpiece. I congratulated myself.

When it was fully inked, I erased the pencil lines, making sure to blow away the eraser dust in a loud, sputtering manner to irritate my office-mates. Once it was scanned, I opened it in photoshop. With the lines on a separate layer, I played around with some colors and textures.

I struggle with coloring, so I usually save images that have color palettes I like, and steal them for myself. Mostly I use stuff I find on flickr - lots of vintage ads and old timey children's book illustrations. For this one I stole a bright red color from a chinese match box someone posted on flickr. I like this screenshot because I love that it looks like there's blood on the saw.

It was about 4:45 when I started to color the illustration. I told my editor that I would need a little extra time - he said that was fine. By the time it was all done, it was about 5:25. I uploaded the image into wordpress and hit publish myself. Immediate gratification!

Nobody even looked at it before it was published. I could have drawn anything. I could have just written the word "fuck" and scanned it and nobody would have stopped me. But I didn't. And that's why I'm the art director. 

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