Sunday, March 24, 2013

Becky Kramer's Brother poster - process

When 90's cover band Becky Kramer's Brother asked me to draw a poster for their upcoming April 5 show, I was actually really excited. Even though it was just a favor for friends, I wanted to treat it like my first professional job.

I started like every other artist I follow starts any of their pieces: I did thumbnails. Well, FIRST I wrote down all my ideas, then I sent them two versions each of the two ideas I was most excited about - a three-wolf-moon situation with their heads, and them with their instruments in front of, or in, the 'Friends' fountain.

This exercise doubled as 'practice digital painting before you actually have to digitally paint something'

They picked the lower right version since it seemed most clearly 90s-ish.

I armed myself with some reference photos and my trusty Beginner's Guide to Digital Painting book and got to work (although I actually did my first sketches on paper - true to size).

photo refs

(The two bottom photos are by my boyfriend Dave - he is a great photographer!)
11x17 fountain on paper

This was my first mistake and by far my worst - NOT COMPLETING THE SKETCHES before scanning them in. I thought, "I'll have to go over them again in Photoshop anyway, might as well do the cleanup versions in there." Then I learned that freehand linework in Photoshop is INCREDIBLY hard unless you have a Cintiq.

While I was working on this I came across a phrase that someone's art teacher used to say - "Don't make turd sandwiches." You can make the most beautiful sandwich in the world, use the freshest bread and best heirloom tomatoes and Grey Poupon and what have you, but it's still gonna be a turd sandwich if you started with a turd. Likewise you can spend 20 hours rendering and painting, but if it's a bad drawing after 2 hours it's going to be a bad drawing after 20 hours. The next time I make a digital painting, I'm going to get it RIGHT on paper first.

So I finally took everything into Photoshop and proceeded to work in chunks for the next two weeks. I exported a JPEG at the end of each day.

Mar 10 - linework and BASIC values

Mar 11 - probably spent the longest on this stage, this was about 6 hours

I sent them that and told them that if they wanted any changes, now would be the time to tell me. They asked for some houses in the background and for Steve's bass to be slung across his back.

Mar 12

Mar 13

Mar 15

Mar 18

Mar 19

Color is something I realized I know NOTHING about (despite having read the amazing Color and Light). It made me really want to take a painting class where they show you how to actually recognize and choose colors.

I sent this colorized version to them and asked for their feedback and for a couple of days to give my eyes a rest. They asked for their trademark neon shirts, since it was looking a little dark, and for the drum kit to have cymbals.

The finalized poster.

(Text was done by the amazing Thadd Williams, who has a much better graphic design sense than I)

At this point I can only see the things that are wrong with it - but the band is happy, and that makes me happy. I learned from it, and that means it was not a waste. And if it gets any attention for the band, that's even better.

Something else that helped me with this process - I finally bit the bullet and bought a couple of CGMA workshops online. The one that helped me the most was Digital Painting with Erik D. Martin - I picked up a lot about layer organization and painting process. I also learned about the LOCK TRANSPARENT PIXELS option in Photoshop, which was a lifesaver.

Now it's back to regular old daily sketches! Until BKB needs another poster that is...

© Gina Florio 2013


  1. That turned out awesome! Their poses are so dynamic. The Friends reference is great too, nothing says the 90s better than Friends!

  2. This is so great Gina! It looks like a ton of work and it came out so well!! And the Friends reference is hilarious, it's the first thing I thought when I saw it on facebook hahah!

    1. Thanks Kelly! People getting the reference was one of the things I was most worried about...

  3. Congratulation, you were clearly out of your comfort zone but you delivered like a champ! You must have learned a ton along the way.