Viewpoint School is a long, thin campus, situated on a valley floor. A football field wouldn't fit across it. This Google Earth shot including the suggestion of topography, has been carefully selected to show the best view of the campus. Three of the four main buildings in the center area are presently under construction, and will have to be added. But the important promenades and other features both existing and future, have all been accounted for in this point of view. The elevation is perfect--everything will show up just fine.
The only problem will be the oversized foreground due to perspective. The football program is overshadowing the academic program--not that the kids would complain, but maybe the parents would care a little. So this natural, correct perspective will have to be altered in such a way that the campus still looks like the campus, and the academic program gets a fair share of the space.
Time to break all the rules.
This shows these major compositional adjustments. I've also applied all this to the layout being used for the primary usage--a brochure. This shows where the gutter (center fold) will lie, and the rough shape of the illustration perimeter. The vignetting is typical of my aerials, and the colors have been quickly saturated to feel like my work. This image is a combination of an existing campus map and the Google Earth shot. Things have been pushed, prodded and lovingly caressed into this state rapidly, with absolutely no attention to detail. In this way the success of the composition is assured, but it wouldn't be any great loss if the whole thing was rejected. In this case the graphic designer, the school development office, the headmaster--everyone involved concurred and approved this quick but crucial step. I think of it as a thumbnail where all the major stuff comes together.
The next step is to establish the "footprints" of the buildings. Most of them are represented, but the new buildings will have to be added using architectural plans and diagrams. Here is the basic "footprint" plan. Again, a little more labor intensive, but still quick and very crucial, this step establishes a solid foundation for the illustration.
Out of these "footprints" I will "grow" each of the buildings using the many ground shots I gathered during my visit, and renderings of the future buildings. Some tweaking is going on with the football field still, the art director thinks it doesn't have enough perspective--picky, picky, picky. On the other hand this is where all this stuff needs to be addressed, and as it turns out he was dead on correct. By this time the tweaks are very minor.
The preliminary rough is the first glimpse of how the illustration will hang together. In addition to the actual buildings in position, the hills around the campus are being suggested. This is what makes this campus unique, and was on the wish list of things to show in this piece. These hills are most famous in that all the old westerns were filmed here. Hollywood is not that far away. I thought that was very cool indeed.
The bulk of the work on the illustration takes place here. This is the detail rough where all the details are shown correctly. More tweaks to the football and softball fields. We'll get there. I'm also beginning to think about the pen and ink work, and how to "render" it all down so that everything is there or implied without coloring the whole thing black (this original meaning of "rendering" as applied to art--a simplification process). There is so much detail to be dealt with, but all must be believable and pleasing to the eye. Also some of the trees are moving and getting shorter or disappearing altogether for the sake of clarity.
This is the final illustration underway. The pen and ink work is all in place, featuring a duotone pen and ink effort in black, and then brown ink, a sort of grasailles translation into the ink media. I feel it is the perfect underwork for coloring, in that all the primaries are already represented. A colored black ink drawing seems inadequate, and does not feel right to me. Sometimes I increase the effect by rubbing burnt umber pastel onto the surface and then using an eraser to knock out highlights. This step increases the drama, and does all sorts of neat things to the color, as one might expect. I elected not to do that here; too much going on to keep it all under control. Went right to the coloring--very sharp Prismacolor pencil points.
|The Viewpoint School, Santa Monica Hills, California (click to enlarge)|
And finally, the illustration complete. Six weeks, a really cool trip, lots of friendly banter, instinct, art and lovin life. Had a blast start to finish, I hope that shows.