1. The Project Brief
Commissions begin with a project brief from the client. Here is an example of one:
A political cartoon of a toy train looking like it's going to jump the tracks with Jeb Bush and Rick Scott in conductor uniforms, Obama in the fuel car, people partying in the third car, and Bill Clinton in the last car with a flag that says "Common Core". The engine car should say "Common Core Express" and the third car should say "Florida GOP".
The client does not see this part, but it is critical to any project. Every project requires different amounts of research depending on the subject matter. For the brief above, I searched for some images of each of the characters involved and toy trains.
3. Thumbnail Roughs
I will do some rough sketches to find a composition and layout that works. Sometimes the client does not need to see this, but it can be a good way to make sure the layout is on track before spending time on a more finished sketch. For this brief I only did one rough sketch.
4. The Sketch
After the rough sketch, the client decided to remove Bill Clinton from the image and wanted children yelling "HELP" in the last train car. I proceed by creating a finished sketch. The sketch still has a rough quality to it and some parts may not be as fleshed out as others.
The client will usually just see the final artwork after the sketch is approved but here I will show you the entire process which starts with applying inks.
6. Flat Colors
Base colors are applied. Usually they are not so bright but toy trains have bold, bright colors.
7. Finished Art
Shadows, highlights, text, and other effects are added to complete the artwork. In this piece there are not any highlights or many effects but they still give the piece it's finished look.
A preview is sent to the client. They love it! Then the final artwork is sent to them.