Sketches to Final


I thought it might be interesting, for a change of pace, to post both a finished illustration and the sketches that led up to it for a typical assignment. I usually treat my rough sketches in a very offhand manner, most of them getting tossed in the trash bin after the job is completed. Sometimes, if I’m particularly fond of a sketch that didn’t get chosen, I’ll tuck it away in a file folder and go back to it later on my own.

This particular assignment for the Wall Street Journal came in on Friday around noon, and I sent off a trio of ideas an hour or so later. This was a story about bond fund investors who have managed to ‘hide’ from the bad markets over the past few months. I personally liked the sketch with the two fellows cowering behind a stump while a giant ‘beast’ passes by (I had ‘bear’ sort of in mind, but didn’t want to commit in case the symbolism didn’t quite apply), and my least favorite was the guy with the umbrella (he looks like he’s taking a dump, now that I look at it more closely). I usually use a ‘pencil’ tool when doing my sketches, and this is a fairly recent change (6 months or so) from ‘scratchboard tool’ sketches that I’d done since ’97. I can get a little more subtlety with this tool than I was before, but the drawback, is that sometimes I have a harder time translating the effects I get with the pencil into the more hard edged ‘scratchboard style’ for the finish. (the tops of the pillars are a good example, if you compare the sketch to the finish).

I heard back from the client just before 2. He like the ‘guys hiding behind the pillars’, but he also liked the ‘big bear’ in the other sketch, so he wanted to see a couple more sketches before I went to finish, adding ‘bears’ to the ‘pillar’ sketch, and another idea he had with investors hiding in a ‘bear’s shadow’. I had a ‘cello play date’ at 2, so I told him I’d get those to him when I got back around 3.

I got the ok on the revised ‘pillars’ sketch around 3:30, and finished up the illustration by around 4:30. I believe this illustration appears in the weekend edition of the paper (they usually accompany a chart of some sort).