On my desk this week: Easter Bunny Basket by Whipper Snapper Designs

I wonder what Kate Upton looks like when she rolls out of bed in the morning.

That's an odd sentence to start a blog post...

but I do wonder about supermodels. It's kind'a hard to tell what's real and what's cosmetics. They always seem put together; they're au courant, even when headed to the gym or dragging garbage cans to the curb.

Remember though, it's easy to look fresh and beautiful when you have a team of stylists following you around.

Let's call it supermodel syndrome, we totally buy the lie of celebrity perfection. But I'll just bet that Kate is a complete wreck in front of her bathroom mirror at 6am. Just like you. Especially like me.

I've noticed that my students have a touch of supermodel syndrome when they look at my samples for class projects. What they see is all the pretty stuff- lovely blending, no smoodges, no wonky eyes... all the details seem just right.

But seriously guys, the project didn't roll out of bed looking that way.

By the time I put a project in front of students, I've worked up a sweat doing the following:

  1. Eliminated 2-3 similar stamp images that didn't quite feel right.
  2. Spent a week mentally planning the image (in the car or shower, doing dishes...)
  3. Weeded through color palette options looking for the best colors.
  4. Stamped and digitized the image. Cleaned up lines, redrawing unclear areas. Re-sizing so that I have the perfect amount of space to color.
  5. Quick colored at least 4 mini color studies, looking for where colors look best.
  6. Colored the full sized image at least once before changing something major (the palette, the technique, or worse- scrapping part of the lesson).
  7. Colored another 2-3 images perfecting the revised plan.
  8. Scrapped at least one image because I totally screwed something up (oopsies, marker ooze, coffee stain, sneezed...)
  9. Finalized the best image, then colored a second to sell as a store sample.

Remember this process when you're looking at an artist's blog or portfolio. What you are seeing is the final product, not the flaming-hot-mess stages.

So in the spirit of keepin' it honest, Each Wednesday, I'll post a shot of what's on my desk and a scan of the project in its inglorious current state. I'll show you exactly what's going wrong or right.

On my desk: April 8, 2015- project sample for a live class on April 22nd.

What should you notice about this scan?

First off, absolutely nothing on this image is finished.

See the two experiment swatches? I colored a bit of the basket and realized I didn't like what was a sandy brown blend. So I played around with two more combos. It's better to stop and change your plans than to stubbornly continue with something that clearly isn't working.

See how the basket handle doesn't meet the main basket? That's because I masked off the feet. They're sitting down below. I'll piece them back later using wiggle-springs from Art Impressions. I filled in the masked area with simple grass. I won't waste time adding any more detail to the new grass where the feet will eventually sit.

Just for kicks, here's the back side. I'm using Copic X-Press It cardstock, so this shows you how much ink I tend to use.

The other thing I want you to note is just how incredibly bland this image is right now. I very rarely make anything that's 100% Copic. I always turn to multiliners, pencils, gel pens, or other media to add texture and amp up the dimension. You will never duplicate this style of coloring without adding post-marker details. Yes, markers are seriously cool but it's that top layer of pencil texture that provides the magic. 

Okay, so there's my current project with all the warts on display. Just like Kate with her cadre of stylists, it'll look much better after some time at the hair salon and a whole lot of makeup.

Remember this when you're sitting there, completely underwhelmed by your own current project. You're looking at your first attempt to color the stamp while I've been primping my supermodel stamp for a month. Now you've seen my project without her make up on and frankly, she's not all that impressive yet. 

All marker projects go through an flaming-hot-mess stage. ALL of them. Even the supermodels.

Pssttt... click here for a taste of what this bunny will look like when finished. Different color basket but all the same techniques.