V dye J - Veronica Dye Johnson, Illustrator

Eating the Oreo Filling First – My Process

Rose Elf - Maiden detail by V Dye J

Eating the Oreo Filling First – My Process

I have a confession. I draw the most interesting bits first: 1) heads 2) hands 3) feet. If the kneecaps are visible, I draw those next. I get very bored with expanses of arms and legs, unless they’re covered in tattoos or wrinkles or scars or moles. And, although I love the look of intricately folded drapery, I get really, really tired rendering it. I just love drawing the human form and am impatient with the rest.

Side note: If you commission me to do a landscape, you will find craggy faces in the rock cliffs – I just can’t help myself, everything becomes a face to me.

I’m currently illustrating Hans Christian Andersen’s grotesque tale “The Rose Elf.” I chose this story because it’s about a bereft maiden burying her lover’s head in a flower pot. I mean, could there be a more fun illustration? But before the burial scene, the maiden has to make the grisly discovery of her lover’s head in the forest – so that’s the image I started with.

Since I’m a very draw-only-what-I-can-see artist, I require models. I recently found PoseSpace.com where I can purchase 360 degrees of high res photos of a nude model for less than $5 a pose. I’m sure all my family and friends are thrilled to death to be off the modeling-hook. (Now, I never made my relations pose nude, but I have constrained them to don bear costumes and other outlandish accessories.)

Once I have my models (virtually or in-person), I do a rough sketch.

Rose Elf prelim sketch by V Dye J

Rose Elf prelim sketch

Then I block out some color. As you can see, I originally considered including a pop of orange.

Rose Elf color blocking by V Dye J

Rose Elf color blocking

True to form, I spent the next several hours working on the maiden’s face and hood.

Rose Elf - Maiden detail by V Dye J

Maiden detail

Then moved on to the man’s rumpled head.

Rose Elf both heads by V Dye J

Rose Elf both heads

As you can see, I IGNORE EVERYTHING and work up my favorite spots to completion. I’m sure quite a few professionals advise against this, but there’s not too much danger for me since I work digitally.

So here’s where I am now, with my least favorite part to go:

Rose Elf WIP by V Dye J

Rose Elf as of this blog post

Will I ever learn to save the best for last? Probably not. :/

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