Kollective Learning Ep 05 : BONUS : Lunar New Year Card

General / 15 February 2018


Hello there!

It's the holiday season for those of us celebrating the Lunar New Year tradition; So I apologize for lack of a blog update. This episode is more of a bonus where I highlight my thought process when it came to composing my annual Lunar new Year painting.

please note that this is not a step by step per se to creating an illustration. there are already numerous great works that highlight this on Artstation alone. What i aim to share is key check points in my painting- and what I was looking to achieve at each stage. They are not chronological when I was working on it- but these points were constantly in my head as I was creating the artwork.


01 - Idea sketch


I generally keep my sketches extremely loose- as it's really more for an experiment and reference point for my painting. I tend to do extremely rough and quick drafts like this for personal paintings. However before I even grabbed my pen- i spent a few days "sketching" in my head. imagining compositions, ideas and layouts. I knew I wanted to have the subject matter be that of a Boy and his dog- as the year 2018 is believed by the Chinese to be the year of the Earth Element Dog. 


02 - Planning Composition


I love centre compositions- and use them often in my work. It's very much a personal preference- but I find them very simple and effective. The diamond composition tool is a simple way of finding you main focus of the composition. In this case I had the boy and his giant goofy dog- along with the secondary element of the STOP sign which carried the meaning of the illustration.

Another thing I enjoy playing with composition is creating frames within frames. I found an easy way to pull this off by repeating the background arches into the distance. This not only helps with depth- but in reinforces the main subject framing


03 - Value Structure


With my simple single point perspective and straight ahead composition, i could structure a simple depth driven backlight value structure to the painting. Establishing this early is great to keep your color values in check- as well as your knowing where to address the level of detail. Once again- my goal was simplicity.

Under your Photoshop settings- there is an option called "Threshold" (Image > Adjustments > Threshold) which is a great way to check how your values are working together at any phase of the painting.

04 - Color Structure


I knew that I wanted the color red to be the main color in this piece- as it was the traditional color of the Lunar New Year celebrations. it's important to establish your main color early- Either for storytelling purposes or just for sheer preference; it simplifies the decision process much much earlier.  Beyond this, it also reminds you to maintain the full purity of the said main color- and all the other colors you introduce should only serve to balance the painting and not interfere with the main color.


05) Storytelling


Regardless of how simple the message is- it's great to put as much care as you can to visually indicate the story behind the picture. In this Illustration- the main message is blatantly obvious as the boy is actually writing the words down! However what i was looking to hint was also a quiet rebelliousness and just the innocent connection of a child and their pet. A small bonus on the environment was also the visual cue that the structures on the left are from a modern setting vs the structures on the right is a more traditional architecture. 

And that's really it!

once again- thank you very much for reading; and I hope you've found it interesting and informative!

Happy Lunar New Year! 

新年快樂!