(This is a guest post by my super cool friend Mike Ferris. Mike is a recent graduate from the University of Central Missouri with degrees in Commercial Art Illustration and Studio Art Printmaking. He is currently working and living in Kansas City, Mo. He finds that travel, looking at other artists, and working with other artists is essential to growth, improvement, and happiness when creating his own work. And he has a mysterious love for candy cigarettes.)
1. For any project I take on, I do thumbnails, sketches, research, etc. to get an idea of a final composition. I look at all of my major influences like Dan Grzeca, Graham Francoise, Gustave Klimt... research is key.
2. I have my final sketch down, after doing a few small character studies. I liked the guy with the buildings on his back, so I did a really small black and white study and pasted him in my sketchbook for reference. Im very interested in the idea that humans have a need to collect, build, travel etc. especially when it comes to cities.
3. The next step in my process takes a bit of patience and stamina. To get to my final illustration, I ink up a piece of what is called CLAYBORD. It is a hard board coated with some sort of clay, but it is soft enough that if you scratch it, it will come off. So I ink it up, then take a piece of graphite paper, put it on the inked board (graphite side face down), and draw on the top of it. What this is doing is transferring the drawing over to the inked board, giving you a key to scratch out.
4. The final scratched image.
6. The final illustration is going to be screen printed, so I keep in mind that when designing in photoshop, I need to keep the colors in separate layers. This is a 3 color print. So I have to have at least 3 layers, with each color having it's own layer.
7. Each layer will be printed out of what is called a transparency printer, in a super thick black coat. This is used to expose a screen covered in light sensitive photo-emulsion. The screen is exposed with UV light, and the black layer blocks the light, keeping the emulsion underneath soft. After the exposure is complete, the screen is taken to a washout booth, and washed with a hose. The soft emulsion will wash out, and this creates a stencil that is used to push ink through.
9. 2 colors are down, one more to print. PRINTING ACTION
10. And the print is done. Always sign and edition your prints!! And this is my process to get from idea to completion. Do research, sketch a ton, look at other artists, and practice practice practice.