Drawing to a Beautiful Conclusion

A brief note before we begin: This is the second of a two part blog post about the creation and completion of an illustration and design project that I recently completed with my Uncle; a musician and songwriter. If you haven’t already read the previous post, I recommend that you check it out first, then come back to this one so that you’ll get a better sense of continuity.

Summary: In the previous post I talked about the beginnings and the initial thoughts and concepts behind this illustration. We left off in that post at the first round of thumbnails. This post will follow up by talking about revisions, rough comps, and the resulting phases of this process, ending with the exciting final product!

Moving On to the Roughs:

Understandably after sending off thumbnails of dancing birds, the project concept came back to what was originally what my Uncle had requested; something a more realistic and human based. I think it’s worth openly stating that ultimately any project is about me providing an image that speaks to the clients needs, and is not all about self gratification. I will just have to wait for another occasion to paint dancing birds. Happily I went back to the drawing board and began work anew, and came up with some dancers that were more in line with what the client was envisioning. Here I was working with a little reference from the movie “Heaven’s Gate.

The Final Drawing

A note on process here; it is at this time that I started to adopt this way of sketching on regular old paper, and just adding pieces at the drawing develops. I find that this way of working really allows me to let go and to not be so precious with the drawings because they’re just on typing paper or whatever.

After the approval of this sketch, I worked up some very rough color sketches. For reference and inspiration, I was looking a lot at the watercolors of J.M.W. Turner. In an effort to connect and communicate the tonal qualities that I originally responded to, I began delving into the abstract color fields in his paintings.

Design Elements:

As the drawing and overall illustration began to take shape, I also need to start considering the overall design of the CD packaging. Here again, I wanted to stay on point with the qualities that had originally stood out to me: delicate, relaxed rolling, lyrical, and warm. Elements such as the type face, and the framing of the image needed to reflect these ideas.

Initially, I thought I wanted to go with this wood grained border around the image. I thought it gave a really good sense of the type of music that it was representing, but of course… in the end everything changes.

Project Wrap-Up:

After many weeks of work, the painting began to take shape and all the elements began to come together. During the process of painting the final image, I really enjoyed getting out my big brushes and laying in wash after wash of colors for the background. It’s not often enough that I allow myself the opportunity to just slosh color washes around on the page, after this experience however, I may allow myself more chances to do just that. I feel that the large washes really give a nice atmosphere to the piece.

"The Beverly Waltz" 18x18" watercolor

To wrap up the whole project, I began to put this painting together with the initial designs, and after conversations with my Uncle, the final design began to emerge. It was at this point that I was glad that I’d left a fair amount of white-space to put the type in. Though I kept the original typeface, I integrated the woodgrain border into the actual type it’s self; sort of like the inlay that one might find in a guitar neck.

The Final Cover Design
The Final Insert Design

Isolating part of the painting for the insert was fun too. I spend so much of my time with my nose about 6 inches away from the paper, that it’s pretty gratifying to show off a smaller more intimate selection from the painting. Also, the flow of the dress was another of the key elements that my Uncle tuned in to early on in the process, so it was nice to highlight it a bit.

The Final Design for the Back of the CD Case

In developing the back of the case, I happened to have a picture of my Uncle playing guitar at our wedding. With some layering in Photoshop, I was able to bring the swashes of color into the picture to help it cohere with the rest of the design. With those final elements in place, it was time to coordinate with the printer, and to send the files off.

Presto-bango-bongo!, after a few short weeks of waiting, the final product arrived on my doorstep!

The Final Product!


I’m glad that you took some extra time with me reading this set of posts. This project is one of those times when there’s a real harmony between art and family. I will also say that if you’d like to order a copy of the CD, please drop me a line through the contact page, and I will put you in contact with Ed. As this is really a family affair, the album isn’t available for download, it’s just simple CD’s. And I’ll add to that, it’s a pretty good one to have too! Get yours today!

As ever, I respond well to enthusiasm. If you liked this, please share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. I’m also interested in continuing a dialoge with you, did you liked this step by step granular view of the process? Did you like this two part format? Let me know by posting below. The last thing, sign up for my new news letter, the Bowes Art Gazette with the sign-up form at the right of this post.

4 Responses to Drawing to a Beautiful Conclusion

  1. These two process posts were just great. Thanks for sharing the thought process that went into such a wonderful outcome. I always learn so much. And shows just how much goes into getting an image just right for your client. I’ll contact you too for a copy of a CD. Bluegrass and CSN is right up my musical alley.

  2. Thanks Donna! I’m so happy to hear that you’re getting some good stuff from these posts. I will happily pass your info along to my Uncle to get a CD!


  3. The two part series was great and the final result something to be proud of. I hope to the the bluebird man in some other project soon 🙂

  4. Yes, the Birdman wasn’t too far down the production pipeline. My most recent promotional image has a giant blue bird-man-muse creature in it!

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