Gary Scott Beatty

My Working Methods

by James E. Lyle

James Lyle illustrates for clients as varied as Weekly Reader, Zenescope Entertainment and Todd Rundgren. See his work at JamesLyle.net.

Folks often ask exactly how I work, so I thought I'd share a little of my methods with anyone who cares to look on for a minute or two.

In this particular case I am working on a logo for a camp for disabled children. The client wanted a superhero pose based on her son, who the camp will be named after. "Flying Z Ranch". Since the art and type have to work together I used a lot of computer assist in the preliminary stages. I don't always do this, but pretty often my work will follow similar lines.

First step: Pencils. In this case, I created a figure in Poser ® 4 ( a helpful program that I often use rather than the expense of hiring a model ) and imported the pose into Photoshop ® where I designed the type. I needed to make sure the figure and type worked together. The challenge here was to make the figure look like the actual person while still giving it that "heroic" look that the client wanted.

Second step: Inks. After the client approved my pencil rough, I made a photocopy of the pencils ( to darken them slightly, depending on the needs of the piece, I may also enlarge or reduce the artwork at this stage ) and taped this copy to the back of a piece of series 500 Strathmore Bristol Board ( by far my preferred medium for ink work). Then I began redrawing the outlines of the figure in ink ( Koh-i-noor Universal ink ), taking care to make pleasing curves in those outlines. I also outlined the areas that I would be filling in with a brush later, and indicated those areas to be filled in with an "x".

Third step: "Spotting" in black areas. I switched light sources from the light table to the drawing lamp I keep on my right and with a brush ( a #6 watercolor brush is my favorite ) I began filling in the areas that I had previously indicated with an "x". At this point I probably ad-libbed a little with the black areas. I often do this unconsciously, finding an area that needs more dark than I had previously thought. So I add a little black ink here and there, unexpectedly.

Fourth step: After making sure that I had a good clean outline around the figure, and double checking to make sure all the black areas were filled in properly, I took the art across the room to my scanner and placed it on the scanner bed. Since this piece was going to be used for various purposes by the client, I needed to put it into as many computer formats as possible, plus I needed to add the type that I'd previously designed in Photoshop®.

Final step: Using the trusty iMac, I flattened the final logo artwork saved it as various TIFFs, GIFs, JPEGS, in both Mac and PC versions, so the client would be able to take the CD-ROM I burned and use the artwork at printers, for webpages and in e-mails with no problem.

And here's the final logo. A good cause, a chance to do something where somebody wears a cape...it was fun all around!

©James E. Lyle



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HOW DO THEY DO IT?

How do They Do It? is a feature on Comic Artists Direct that explores the nuts and bolts of the creative process. Check out the below articles!

James Lyle demonstrates his working methods from start to finish on an illustrated logo project.

Gary draws, inks, colors and lays out a cover illustration for On the Shore magazine here.

James Lyle talks about brainstorming for ideas here.

Check out Gary's article here for ways to keep your writing ideas fresh and different.

Gary's step by step article on lettering for comics is here.


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