Tabula Rasa—meaning “Blank Slate”—is a new series in which we dive into the planning stages of a creative project by showing the early sketches and outlines from creators, comparing those to the finished product, and hearing from the creators themselves on how the project came to life. Read past installments here.
“For this piece, I was trying to build an image for a children’s book. My wife and I had our first kid about a year ago, so I was trying to come up with something that he might like, and colors are an obvious choice for a one-year-old.
“First, I just wanted to get the idea down—get a rough shape, proportions, and a super loose style. I knew I wanted a bird riding a fire truck, and it evolved from there.”
“Next I started roughing in the color. Here’s where I start figuring out the hues I want to use—I wanted the cardinal to be a slightly different red than the truck, I figured out what tone of blue for the windshield, etc.. I use masking layers in photoshop to block in colors and shape, then lock in that layer and add highlights and more details.
“This piece is all digital, from initial sketch to final piece. I didn’t start illustrating on the computer for a long time—I really didn’t mess with digital work until my final year in college. Up until that point it had been primarily pencil and watercolor.”
“I draw inspiration from comic book artists, designers, and lately in motion graphics. Movies and TV inform a lot of my work too—I’m working on a series revolving around Jurassic Park at the moment.
“In high school, I didn’t really color anything, so I got my roots in stencil work and shading, which I still use today. For a long time, I was doing everything with really fine-point mechanical pencils—something like 0.5mm graphite—which leads to a lot of detail. That’s where I like to play: in the details, getting down into the small parts.
“In the past few years, as I’ve gotten into color and scheme and expanding my scope, I’ve become more comfortable with “happy mistakes.” That’s hard for me, because I’m a very technical artist, but I’m starting to work from large to small—starting with the overall shape and moving down into the details. And with that, I’m able to focus more on areas that really deserve the detail, and not worry as much about the places that people don’t really pay attention to. Understanding that not many people are going to be pouring over every inch of the image has helped my work, I think, and made me more comfortable with not having to have details in every single small space.”
See more of Jake’s work on his website JakePageDraws.com