Battlefield 5 Illustration
Updated: Dec 19, 2019
So... This is something that has been requested by several people, as well as being something that I have been putting off for some time now. A blog about how I create my illustrations. Like pretty much every illustrator and artist out there I would rather spend my time creating new work, not discussing old work. But people have asked so here goes nothing.
In this blog I am going to explain the process I go through to create my work, but more specifically my recent Battlefield 5 illustration. For those of you that don't know, Battlefield 5 is a computer game for PC, PS4 and XBOX.
Every drawing i create starts the same way, I go to a coffee shop or pub with my notebook and start doodling ideas, just to see what I can get down on a page. For my BF5 illustration I already had a rough concept in my head, which was based upon my experiences playing the beta of the game, mainly on the Rotterdam map called Devastation. So I was mainly doodling different elements I could incorporate rather than a full image. Once I have a few ideas of what I would like to include, I will work out the layout. What size I'm going to work at, where the different elements are going to be positioned, which areas are going to be dark/light etc.
Once I have finalised a layout I will cut heavy duty board to the required size, then it is time to start sketching. The first thing I always do is draw a 1cm border around the edge of the board, This is personal preference, I find I have less pen control when working on an edge. It also helps to check that I have cut the board straight! I will then add a vertical guideline down the centre and horizontal guidelines for the various elements I am incorporating into the illustration. Once that is complete I will gather all my reference material, which in this case was World War 2 history books, The World At War box set and reference photos I took at the Royal Armouries in Leeds. Then I will start drawing.
This part normally takes about 15 - 20 hours. I like to invest extra time at this stage because I find it makes the pen work easier. This is also the last chance I have to alter the design, so once I have finished sketching I will leave it for 24 hours so I can come back to it with fresh eyes to make sure I am happy with it. This obviously changes if I am working for a client or to a deadline, It's not very often you can leave work for that length of time.
Once I am happy with the sketch (or the client is) I will outline the drawing in pen. For this illustration all the line work was drawn using 0.1mm, 0.2mm and 0.3mm Staedtler Pigment Liners. These are my go to pens, they are easy to find, relatively cheap and easy to use. Although I have been finding the 0.5mm and thicker dry out quite quick when you use them on board. This is normally the quickest part of the process, and I will generally have the line work on an illustration finished within 10 hours.
Now It is time for the fun part... the stippling! I always start with the part which is going to take the longest, so for this one it was the German soldier. I prefer working on the most time consuming part first because once it is finished it makes the rest seem very achievable. On this illustration I used a mixture of 0.05mm, 0.1mm, 0.2mm and 0.3mm stippling. I varied the width depending on what I was drawing. So for the metal I would use the finer pens to create a smoother look. And the clothes and gas mask which are heavy fabric I used the thicker pens to create a coarser look, with a bit of 0.1mm to smooth out the shadow gradients. I will then repeat this process on every element, taking into account the material it is made from, light and shadows.
From finishing the line work to finishing the illustration the process can take anywhere from 20 hours to 100 hours. If I make a mistake I either have to incorporate it or start again. Once I have finished the mark making, that's it. I don't scan it and Photoshop mistakes or smudges out, I don't re-work line width or shading, I leave it. That is because I made the conscious decision about 8 years ago to move away from computer generated graphics to traditional drawing and I want to keep the imperfections. I don't want to take everything unwanted out because that means the viewer is going to struggle to see the process behind the work, as well as the unique signatures different pen artists have. If I am working for a client it is job dependent, but I will always try to leave a drawing as natural as possible.
Well.... That's it I reckon. I'm done talking about myself, I hope that wasn't too shit, maybe even useful. I promise to keep these blogs as infrequent as possible. I am now off to the pub for a pint to stop myself worrying about how self-centred I have sounded.