A process

Final illustration

I have a project (Ok, I have many) but this one has been eating at me for a while now. Usually, a project can be as simple as shredding a mountain of bills and confidential documents that has been piling up since early 2015 or it can be something like writing a novel or making a series of illustrations. There is a continuum between those two.

Recently, I ran into this model:

managing change

I immediately recognized where I am. I’m down there with the false starts. Every single project that I embark on gets derailed by the new shiny thing. And this has been going on with my art practice more than I care to admit. But the project that I have in my mind is deeply personal. It’s where all my taste, culture, aesthetic and personal philosophy meet. This isn’t a project that I want to start and leave  under the pile (though my life is a series of piles).

I need a an Action Plan.

Here is where I sort of regret not studying something related to art where they teach you process, workflow, phases and the need for sketching, revising and constant refinement. So what does an independent learner do? Listen to a lot of established artists. Watch them carefully, understand that one illustration might take days and accept that.
Nobody makes a masterpiece in 30 minutes (well maybe some people do.. or some people decide that a certain doodle is a masterpiece… who knows..) but most working artists have a process that starts, in a possibly shitty manner and they build it up until they are satisfied.

I want to share the result trying to discover a process for myself. By experimenting and gathering many notes I’ve taken from different classes, different interviews, videos and books. The resulting illustration is not a masterpiece but it’s a building block for what that personal project needs to become a reality.


I know that I want to be able to illustrate interior scenes and for that I need a minimum understanding of perspective. I also need to be able to draw a proportionate accurate human figure. So instead of overwhelming myself with perspective for fine artists, I went for perspective for comic book artists.

Initial Drawing
Initial Drawing

The drawing was tiny. It happens usually when I am intimidated about something I try things in very small scale.


I thought I might try the Lecture Lab techniques but the elements were too complex to trace and clean up in illustrator so I stuck with Photoshop. I scanned my tiny drawing and blew it up to 600 dpi.

I retraced the drawing using my tablet and a simple PS brush. Then I sort of did a value study. My notes say: where are the darks? Oh well.



I took my lightpad and inked the places where I would like color. I experimented with Sumi ink in a brushpen. My notes say: argh! No control of brush whatsoever and palpable impatience.



Spent hours wrangling Photoshop because as noted above, my brush pen was inexact, but I was quite pleased with the textures I managed to get. Then I printed some copies to understand how colors print better… my printer is a cheap old thing so colors are not the best.

printing Five

This is the “final” illustration.

Final illustration
Final illustration

As I see it, it is so simple, but it was a mashup of things that I’ve learned during the last year including:

  • Gesture drawing
  • Color (with Sabina)
  • Perspective
  • And tons of Photoshop tutorials.

If I wanted to invest more time, probably I would draw some additional decorative elements, like pattern or wall art, or maybe  a dog.

I will rework this in watercolor and possibly colored pencils. Just because.

Do you have a workflow? Do you revise, sketch, re-sketch and work on a piece for a long time?

By Luisa Fernanda

Artist, Illustrator, Cruelty-Free Advocate. Notion Geek.