Thursday, October 10, 2013

Process: Jen Betton

My process always begins with thumbnails. Usually I do a bunch of them, very small and very rough. When I find one that works well for the story and is visually interesting, then I'll blow it up a little bit and work out the value structure.
Value study
Then I started collecting reference and working on a finished sketch. This included reference for the moon, clouds, night scenes, hot air balloons, kids, rope ladders, cities from above... in total I accumulated about 140 images for reference. I didn't use all of them, but the complexity of the scene and my inability to photograph the scene myself meant I collected a lot of images to work from.

I also used kneaded eraser to create a little mock-up of the kids in the balloon basket, to see what the lighting looked like. 
Kneaded eraser kids, in a cup – my no-frills maquette. 
I created the drawing on a number of different sheets of tracing paper, the kids and balloon separate from the city so I could move them around in photoshop and composite them.

I used a curved 3 pt perspective on the city – headache!!!
Finished drawing
Next step is color studies. 

After that I printed the drawing onto thin 500 strathmore board, and started to paint (I usually use the thick strathmore illustration board and transfer the drawing with graphite paper, but the city was detailed enough I decided to try printing it on a thinner sheet).

I started painting with a light colored watercolor wash to seal the drawing and provide a base tone. Sometimes I'll also paint some base values as well – as I did here, on the buildings. 

Then I'll usually start with the part of the painting that would be the easiest to screw up, so that if something goes wrong I can start over quickly. In this case, I needed to paint the big, loose wash that would cover the whole painting and define the sky. I would also need to lift the moon out of the wash before it dried, in order to keep it light. I could have used frisket, but I didn't want to risk getting a really crisp edge on the moon.

I put down the wash very loosely, very wet, with a wide, flat brush. I added splatters of purple and green with a toothbrush, light spots with a water bottle, and I lifted the moon out of the wash with a brush and a paper towel. 

Then I moved on to painting the town, basket, and kids. 

And added some colored pencil in the light areas. 

And a little photoshop, and done!

You can see more of Jen Betton's work at her website:
and more process work on her blog at
Twitter: @jenbetton

1 comment:

  1. Amazing job! Thank you for sharing this. Greetings from Perú. :)