It was an honor to be asked by Neon Pig Creative to create the cover illustration for the annual Colorado Fun magazine, a state-wide guide to Colorado entertainment and events.
Even better was the fact that Neon Pig gave me the creative freedom to pick the content and style I thought would work best. They gave me a list of some of the articles that would be featured in the magazine, including the cover story about the annual Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo held at the historic Norris Penrose Event Center.
As fate would have it, the illustration I delivered contained elements that matched perfectly with stories I didn’t even know would be included in the magazine.
A lot of credit goes to Neon Pig Creative for trusting me to deliver a solid illustration that they could craft the rest of the cover around.
A lot of the success for this project came from the fact that I had a clear vision in mind from the beginning. With so much freedom to work with, I decided I was going to do a flat geometric illustration in Adobe Illustrator, and use Adobe Photoshop to add some splatter texture. I had some clear style inspiration, which you can see in the below image. I also started out with a small test object - the boot. Once I knew the style would work on one element, I knew I could apply it to every element I created.
You can also see the evolution from my sketch, to the flat vector version, to the textured final version. I know that calling that initial scribble a “sketch” is being generous, but I wasn’t gifted with drawing skills. I need a computer to bring my vision to life, and I own that. But I’m glad I had the vision in my head, and knew how to use my computer to bring it to life.
The process of creating the illustration involved creating the basic shapes in Adobe Illustrator, and then layer separating them so that each shape I might need to add texture to was on its own layer. This was important because to texture the shapes in Photoshop, you need to easily be able to select the shape so the texture stays within the bounds of that shape. That means keeping each shape on its own layer so that you can easily command+click a layer in photoshop and a selection will automatically be drawn around that individual shape, ensuring any splatter brush applied stays within the bounds of that shape.
Once in Photoshop, I used the Memento shader brushes from Pixel Buddha to apply highlight and shadow texture throughout, which really brings the illustration to life and adds some needed depth to the elements.
I started with the base four colors - Red, Purple, yellow, and teal. I then picked a series of lighter and darker shades for them each, knowing that I would need to add textured highlights and shadows on top of each color. I eventually added in a few complementary colors as needed, and a few more levels of highlight and shadow color.
This was one project where I thought the colors initially picked worked really well, so they essentially stayed the same throughout the design process, which usually is not the case.
I hope a peak into the process of creating this cover was interesting and informative. It’s always intriguing how different art is created, and it was fun to delve into the process a little bit. Thanks again to Neon Pig, and make sure you go pick up a a free copy of Colorado Fun magazine before next year’s version hits the shelves!