Archive for the ‘Process Shots’ Category

A few years ago my wife and I saw Philip Seymour Hoffman perform in,”Death of a Salesman”,on Broadway. The entire cast was unbelievable, but I particularly remember being affected by the final scene, which was a heated emotional exchange between Mr. Hoffman and Andrew Garfield. To say it was intense, would be an understatement. I was almost uncomfortable watching it unfold, but still I sat on the edge of my seat hanging on to every yelling word that was mingled in with tears of rage. I was beyond moved. After the performance, when the entire cast met on stage, held hands and bowed, Mr. Hoffman and Mr. Garfield were both still breathing heavy and in tears. At that moment I realized what an emotional toll a performance like this must take on the soul. I wondered what event in their lives did they bring up in their minds to draw such concentrated pain, anger and grief from. The experience stuck with me.


First rough sketch and color study I did.

When I learned of Mr. Hoffman’s passing in early February, I have to admit, it came as a shock. The nature of how he died gave me a slight idea of where he drew his emotion from during his performances. He was obviously struggling with his own demons and I imagine that he brought personal issues to the forefront of his mind that ate him away slowly.


This was the final drawing that I did followed by another color sketch. I wasn’t feeling confident about the likeness, so I did the color sketches just to make sure I was moving in the right path.

Anyway, I won’t even try to rationalize or pretend that I understand him as a person, because we never met. I can only say that he was an artist, and I’m sad that we lost one of our own. Watching him perform live was inspiring.

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I wanted the portrait to be understated. Nothing over the top. I just wanted to capture the emotion in his face.


Here’s to you Mr. Hoffman.


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A few months ago I walked into my creative director’s office at Siempre Mujer Magazine, where I work as the photo editor. She was in the middle of doing stock research for a story she was designing. If you don’t know, stock research is the process of finding pre-existing art to use for publication. Anyway, she wasn’t having much luck in finding a suitable image, so she asked if I’d be interested in doing an illustration for the article. Being that I’m the photo editor at the magazine, this really isn’t something I do too often for them, but I found the topic of the article interesting, which was why meditation and good eating is good for a healthy heart in women. I also thought it would be a good idea for me to add a womens’ focussed piece to my portfolio, since it lacks those kinds of works.  The illustration was slated to run as a FULL PAGE, which was also an added incentive to do the assignment. I immediately saw a few images in my head, so I sketched them out really quickly. (See the sketches below.) When I do sketches for assignments or personal projects, I always try to think up at least three different concepts, to help fully explore the topic. I try to keep the drawing very loose and rough. This helps me to not commit to any one idea too soon.  When presenting my sketches to clients, this technique also helps to move the discussion forward quickly because I’m giving them options. Clients LOVE options.  Here’s a little side note. I’m an illustrator and I’m a photo editor, so I have the unique opportunity to place myself in the shoes of the client/art buyer and the artist. Having a foot in both worlds really gives me valuable insight into each one. Anyway, I digress.


SKETCH #1: For this idea I wanted to create a light atmospheric mood, by showing heart shaped balloons rising into the sky. The main character grasping the balloon affectionately is symbolic of her taking care and loving her heart.

SKETCH#2: For this idea I wanted to evoke a sense of power, which stems from a healthy heart. I was planning to make the heart look like an ornate tattoo design. I added flowers to the composition to represent life and the beauty of living.

SKETCH#3: For this idea I wanted to make the role of the woman be a super hero, her heart being her super power deflecting off danger.

The creative director and editor-in-chief approved SKETCH #1. They also requested that I do a RUN-OVER image to accompany the main FULL PAGE illustration. RUN-OVER illustrations usually appear much smaller than the main piece and they usually echo the idea of it.  So, I drew up this tighter sketch along with an idea for the RUN-OVER illustration, which was a bowl of salad floating on a heart shaped balloon.


At this point I had to show the tighter sketches to my creative director to get approval to move to the final illustration. Once I got her blessing, it was time to get busy.  My illustration technique is made up of a combination of  traditional and digital techniques. I printed the sketch onto a clean sheet of water color paper and then I inked it using waterproof india ink and a brush.


Then I scanned my drawing into the computer so I could start the coloring process in PHOTOSHOP.


These are progress shots I took while working on the piece. Naturally there’s a lot of back and fourth during this process such as figuring out colors and in this case, I changed a few elements in the characters face, hair and the clouds in the bottom right corner. I also added a set of buddhist prayer beads to the main character’s wrist, which is a tiny detail that I thought would re-enforce the idea of meditation, which this piece is ultimately about.

Finally, the piece was finished and I delivered it to the client aka my boss.



Here’s how the story turned out in the end.



Thanks for looking!


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Distractions can come from all corners. They can easily absorb all of my focus and lead me down the wrong path, leaving me lost and bewildered. The trick is to distinguish the bad distractions from the good ones. Yes, I believe there are good distractions and like the bad ones they can also leave me lost and bewildered. However, this is when I remind myself that it’s fine to be confused and unsure every now and then, because being in this state of mind can often lead to unexpected idea’s. Unexpected ideas will eventually lead to new and untraveled paths, which in turn will lead to better development of the self.


Development takes time. I’ve always known it, but I’m not sure if I really understood the premise behind it. In this specific case, I’m referring to the development of self in the creation of art. It really is a slow process that is never truly complete. At least it shouldn’t be. My interests are ever evolving, jumping to new techniques and back stepping to older ones with new eyes and continuing to move forward from there.


I have to admit, I’ve had a interesting ride so far. I appreciate the place where I’m at in my career because its a place where I never expected to be. When I was in college, my one and only plan was to become a freelance illustrator, but somehow I found myself in the second career of a photo editor. Two very different paths, that I’m trying to mend together into one complete career. This is always a challenge, but it’s one that needs to be met because it’s mine. Of course, I didn’t always feel this way. When I was younger, my job as a photo editor was only a means to make money and I didn’t care for the practice at all. It was a “distraction” from what I really wanted to do, but slowly it turned into one of those good distractions. Amongst many things, it has taught me to collaborate with others and to not be so singular in my world. And for that, I’m thankful.




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One thing that most of my friends know about me is that I’m an early riser, but what they don’t know is that this practice didn’t start out as a natural habit. Truth be told I would love to sleep in just as much as the next guy, but because of the demands of my job I needed to find the time to be able to focus on my own work. I needed to find a time to nourish my talents, which aren’t very natural to me at all. I’ve had to work very hard to get to the point where I am, and I’m still working. Never quite satisfied, but truly happy in the profession I’ve chosen for my self. Now a days most of my work is self motivated, peppered with interesting assignments, which I’m truly grateful for. Anyway, as I write this I can’t help but think about how valuable our time is. Depending on how we use it, it can move slow or it can move fast. I for one often feel like there isn’t enough time in the day, as most of us feel I’m sure, so what we choose to invest it in can easily take priority and define us to a certain extent. Hopefully, we get to spend that precious time on the things in life that matter. Family and friends being at the top of the list, followed by our passions that motivate us to push through the everyday, in my opinion.


My need to find precious time to work has led me to become an early riser. A lover of the twilight air and morning quiet. A trait that my wife prays I keep whenever we have kids so she can sleep in. Now there’s an interesting thought indeed.

Above is one of my latest illustrations, “Holy Children of The Valeda”, based on true events. Thank you Marcos Chin and Yuko Shimizu for your input on this piece.


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Last night I refined this sketch a little more. I’m trying to form a abstract figure from the flowers, leaves, vines and branches. An alien creature seems to be emerging.

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I’ve been developing this image in my head all week. Today, I’m trying to get it out on paper and make sense of it. Good times. I’m drawing textures that I haven’t experimented with before. Very meditative and relaxing.

At first I thought this was going to be a purely decorative piece, but a deeper interpretation is coming to me slowly. I can’t wait to start inking this one.

Happy Saturday everyone.


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This is sort of a continuation from a previous post titled, “A Cultural Kind Of Beauty”. I wanted to share a few process shots of me working on this piece as well as the colored final.

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This is my thumb nail sketch that I worked from. I scanned it, enlarged it and printed it on an 11×17 piece of paper.

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Then I traced the basic form and modeled it into this. (Above)

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When I finished my drawing, I traced it onto a sheet of Cold Press watercolor paper. Then I inked it with a matte ink.  I outlined the whole drawing with a Speedball inking nib and a small brush for larger areas.



Here’s the finished drawing, which I then scanned into photoshop. I honestly tend to go over board when I scan my drawings. I believe this drawing is about 10 inches wide, which is a decent size to start with, but I scan it at 1200 dpi, which nearly quadruples the size.

I adjust the blacks with levels, unsharp mask and threshold. Then I save it as a bitmap. It sounds more complicated than it is. I picked up the technique from the blog of a comic book page scanner technician. Very interesting to say the least.


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The coloring process usually involves many layers to achieve the desired look I want. It also involves a lot of back and fourth with the many color combinations and textures to pick from. I’ve been moving into a brighter color direction lately because it seems more inviting and fun. Just a personal preference at the moment.

My files can easily contain over 30 layers. Considering the size of my initial scan and the many layers above it, including varying textures, my files are usually at least a gigabyte and a half. So, they’re very large as I’m working on them. I do this in case I want to make a very large print of the piece somewhere down the line. Once I flatten the image the file decreases to a more manageable size, but I still keep my original photoshop document just incase I need to make any changes.



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Here’s the final!

Thanks for reading.



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I’m an Illustrator and I’m a Photo Editor. Rarely do the two worlds ever collide. In fact they’re very much separate. Only recently I’ve decided to start posting my work as a photo editor on my blog. I refrained from doing so in the past because I didn’t want to confuse what ever audience I had. However, now I believe showing this work rounds me out, and it’s a practice that not many illustrators can say they experience. With all that said, I actually got to work on a project  that believe it or not sent my two worlds crashing together. It all started with a call from my friend and wardrobe stylist Ise White, who I’ve collaborated  on many photo shoots with for Siempre Mujer Magazine. She asked me if I’d be interested in doing a project with a new magazine, where she worked as the Fashion Editor, titled “Relapse“.  She told me that I could do WHATEVER I wanted for a ten page fashion story for the books up coming art issue. Once we worked out a few details, I was on board. We both came up with the simple idea of shooting a model in her underwear with her hair pinned back. Then I’d draw in her hair and clothes. She paired me up with the Creative Director of the magazine, photographer Tyler Mitchell. After discussing a few ideas I sent him these rough story boards.


The next thing I knew, we were on a set, bringing this idea to life.



Tyler did an initial edit, getting rid of the shots that were totally unusable. Then he sent the rest to me and  I narrowed them down to the shots I thought would work best with the drawings I had planned. I decided the best way to get this done was to print the images out and draw my designs over them on tracing paper. Then I transferred those drawings on to watercolor paper, using my light box and inked them in. Finally, I colored them in photoshop.

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Here’s how the finals came together.


Photography by Tyler Mitchell. Art by David Cooper. Make up by Suzana Hallili. Model: Mila At MC2.

Thanks for looking. I hope you enjoyed the process!


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I’ve been working like crazy to complete my fashion project for Relapse Magazine shot by Tyler Lazer Mitchell. It’ll be a ten page story filled with colorful spreads and single pages.

The photos are amazing. The model is beautiful and inspiring. We shot her in her under wear and pinned her hair back leaving me space to draw in my own imagined hair and fashion. I cant wait to share it with you good folks that lend me your time by reading my ramblings.

I just scanned the last drawing and now I’m waiting for photomerge/photoshop to piece it together. Since the drawing is so large and I scanned it at a high DPI, photoshop is moving slowly. So, I thought i’d take the time to write this post. For some reason I started thinking about my equipment today. Particularly my scanner. I’ve had the same one for over ten years. I really need a larger one, but how can I replace such a good old friend?! Seriously though, it’s so small I had to scan this large drawing in about six sections. Not such a big deal. Just sayin’. Anyway, I tend to use my equipment until it can’t be used anymore. Upgrade only when necessary. Probably not the best of practices, but I’m a firm believer of the age old philosophy of, “if it ain’t broke…”.

Good day to ya,


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Good morning. It’s 6:17am and I’m trying to get some drawing done before work. Enjoy your day!


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