Having studied printmaking in college (woodcuts mostly), it was a thrill to get back into creating portraits. It took me a few to get back into the swing of things, but once I got back into it, I expanded my technique immeasurably.
The basic strategy of creating a traditional print is (very simply put) to map out areas of color, then create a composite of all the colors for a final product that comes alive.
Creating a portrait in Photoshop is similar in some ways, and everything I learned in college laid a foundation that I use to this day. What computer-based portraiture lacks in organic feel (lacking the woodgrain) it makes up for in speed and flexibility.
There has been no shortage of Salon stories for which this illustration would do the trick. I spent my down time over a few days to work this up, then waited a day or two until a big cover story came along about this pair.
With fun headlines come fun illustrations. And the headline for this story was “Steve Bannon, Bolshevik: Maybe Donald Trump’s alt-right Svengali really is a ‘Leninist.'”
When working on a portrait of a person who has either done something awful or been accused of doing something awful, one gets the opportunity to make some choices with colors and facial distortions that would otherwise be inappropriate.
The perfect type of face for a portrait using this technique – i.e. breaking the image down to banded areas of color. Wrinkles and crevices make for the most interesting facial landscapes, and emotional intensity goes a long way.
For whatever reason, Mark Zuckerberg was used to illustrate what felt like every other story on Salon for a little while. When a particularly interesting story came at me, I decided to blast out a fast illustration of him – probably done in under an hour.
For a story about how a concerted move was on to burnish George W. Bush’s legacy, I chose a photo of him to work from that featured a hazy lighting effect that tied in with the theme, and a facial expression that implies that he is soaking in adoration.
Every year Salon publishes a gift guide centered around characters from movies and television shows. It’s an incredibly fun project, though it is always a ton of work – a dozen or so portraits in addition to an original type treatment.