THE YEAR IN OBJECTS
Being asked to create illustrations for a spread in Vanity Fair was one of the most exciting, scariest questions of my life. The deadlines were tight but the ideas were good and the people were smart and enthusiastic and supportive.
Being asked to reprise the series for a second year was incredibly gratifying. I honestly got the sense that this was my team’s favorite project of the year.
The idea was based on the British Museum’s History of the World in 100 Objects exhibit, but took things in a darkly funny direction.
I was relatively new to 3D modeling, and it was this project that taught me most of what I now know. Having strong Photoshop skills was vitally important, because I would only have to get the modeling to a point where I could fly it in and fine-tune the colors and shadows and surfaces.
Making this illustration, I learned a great deal about the construction of a car boot – something I had never previously considered. I thought about distressing it once it was built, but figured the NBA would probably spring for a brand new model.
When this project began, the writers had drawn up only a partial list of images they had locked down. They weren’t sure how to illustrate this concept, so the idea for this one came from me. The modeling was relatively straightforward, with color corrections in Photoshop.
I thought I had completed this one when I got an email asking me if it would be better if, instead of the shiny new shuttle I had created, it might make more sense to have it look rusty and abandoned. They were 100% correct.
This one was tedious. Sometimes there is no shortcut – you simply have to clone that flower two hundred times and get to arranging. One unexpected takeaway: it’s very difficult to get a pyramid to cast a usable shadow.
This one was a straight Photoshop job; no 3D modeling involved. It was a challenge on their end to come up with a suitable concept for this horrific story and I think they nailed it. And I’m really proud of that disgusting fish juice I added.
This was the one I was working on right up until the deadline. Lilac is a color I hadn’t given much thought to, and trying to create a realistic approximation of a shiny coat of lilac paint on smooth wood was a huge challenge. Add to that the challenge of realistic diamonds.
I tried out several color combinations for this, but ultimately yellow and pink was the perfect look. It needed some balance so I threw in the smily face charm as a bonus object.
This illustration was created only in Photoshop, no modeling. I always think it’s the projects that require the biggest array of your skills and abilities that are the most fun and gratifying. Turning a photo of a brand new chair into this took everything I had.
And this time around, it was this illustration that I was working on until the very last minute. It was helpful to have portraiture to fall back on to create the final effect with the painted faces. But man, was it a lot of work.