Kelly Smith: How does she do it?

My second illustrator is Kelly Smith, to recap on her background click here to read my previous research post: Kelly Smith: Modern Femininity. Smith has a soft tone to her work, she manages to capture true detail but still maintain a graceful flair. It is clear that Smith uses traditional methods such as sketching by hand and water-colour but she refines this in Photoshop to give it that clean-cut professional finish. Her illustrator profile explains:

Kelly Smith’s approach is mainly traditional, with 90 per cent of the work completed using a graphite pencil. She then scans the drawing in, adding colour and tweaking the image using Photoshop.

On her website Smith adds that when creating a fashion illustration, she likes to make a mood board of images that capture the essence of what she wants to portray in her illustration, she then makes a collage of images to shape the character of her drawing. This could mean using a photograph of a face that she wants to sketch while adding in close up images of flowers or those whimsical antlers:

Image taken from: 07/01/15

Blogger Bea Cabrera highlights on her blog Obsessive Coffee Disorder, that Kelly Smith sketches her fashion illustrations by hand, shading lightly with a range of graphite pencils to achieve defined features, she then scans this into the computer without any colour. As mentioned earlier Smith states on her website that she adds a touch of colour to her pieces on Photoshop but for water coloured images Bea Cabrera points out that she adds water-colour to the original sketch and scans this in also, then on Photoshop she takes the scan of the uncoloured sketch and layers it over the water-colour sketch on Photoshop. I love this idea as it is a great way to add colour but still maintain the original shading and fine lines.

Image taken from:
Image taken from: 07/01/2014

Kelly Smith finishes by tweaking the layered image on Photoshop and adjusting the Curve setting to get the desired finish. I really find this technique inspiring and it has opened my eyes to the mystery behind the seamless finish Smith’s illustrations have. I hope you have found this as insightful as I have! Over the next few posts I will try to create some of Kelly Smith’s pieces to learn her technique with the intention of using both illustrators techniques to inspire my own illustrative creation.

Feel free to share your thoughts on this drawing technique…

Emma ♥


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