Vered Eliezri Ganchrow

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From Sketch to Illustration

Work processes and thoughts from my creation process in commissioned works

Every illustration originates from a blank page.

Actually, the illustration begins earlier.

What happens before the sketch even materialises?

A lot. Hours of dreaming, world wars, the rise and fall of a kingdom, aimless media surfing, soul talks, rituals of preparing coffee and pastries to hone concentration and a lot of staring into space. But at the end there is no escape and the pencil has to express itself.

Taking hold of the pencil before sketching is a special moment.

I choose, consciously or not, a direction and move the pencil over the paper in the air. Sometimes even twice before the pencil lands and makes contact. The sketch begins its journey into the world. Thoughts emerge on the page; in the sketch.
A sketch is just a sketch. It is not decisive or unequivocal. Always open. Flexible.

A sketch easily accepts any change, turn or update. Most sketches are abandoned, thrown away or transferred to another page if they make it to the next stage.

I really love the sketching stage. Everything is open, lines searching where they belong. Lines with several layers thicken and find their dominant presence. The sketch is secret. It is mine. Usually I don’t show it to anyone until it is developed and I see where it is going.

The sketch that makes it to the next level begins a deliberation. From this point until the final illustration there are several stages. There isn’t one set path in this process, luckily. The process is not formulated. Every time the transition occurs differently.

שונית האלמוגים -1

Sketch for a sign commissioned by the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority for the coral reef in
the Eilat Coral Beach Nature Reserve.

The initial sketch is a movement, a composition, almost without details. If it lends itself to development – details entail. In this case- details of the schools of fish, specification of the types of corals, and even some colour.

שונית האלמוגים -2

Detailed sketch in colour for the coral reef sign

Now we can move to the execution, once the commissioner of the job approves and gives pointers. In this example, the type of fish and schools of fish in the coral reef are chosen.

I look at photos of the fish requested by the commissioners of the sign. I learn everything I can from the images and information about coral reefs and specifically those in Eilat. Studying the required content is necessary and the more – the better.

I put the illustration into a state of clean lines. Sometimes I work with the sketch underlying the illustration.

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Outlines on a layer above the sketch

Now the sketch can be removed. It has fulfilled its function.

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Full outlined 

Then the stage of grey tones begins – choosing the intensity of the hues. Lastly – I transfer it to colour.

At this point, I really want to feel the colorfulness. But I hold back. I satisfy my need by just adding the sea blue background…

I colour the reef in monochrome, mostly to sense the light and darkness. Than illustrate the fish strait in colour.

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Light and shadow decision making

The transition to colour happens both in the palette and in the lines.

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The illustration in coloured lines

I add shadows and light reflections. To do this I decide on the source of light -in this case from above and slightly to the right.

שונית האלמוגים -8

Illustration for a sign commissioned by the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority for the coral reef in the Eilat Coral Beach Nature Reserve.

The illustration journeys on to print. The sign undergoes layout and graphic design with added informational text in three languages.

I colour with more pigment saturation since the appearance in print is not like the one on-screen. The physical pigments are opaque and lack luminescence. They are made of matter and not “light” so the print version is usually more “opaque” and dark. I know this from experience, but of course, I went to the factory to see the test of the signs and approve the colours.

The sign that you have seen so far is on the right side of the photo. The sign is currently in the Eilat Coral Beach Nature Reserve. All rights reserved to the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

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