Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Full Page Editorial Illustration Assignment

Wondercon This Weekend!

I've been incredibly busy with life and work. Many thanks to the fine people who have visited the blog in my absence and a special note of gratitude to those who took the time to leave comments, I'll make sure to reply before I leave to catch my plane.

I'm heading to San Francisco to attend Wondercon at the Moscone Convention Center downtown, if you are in the area please do drop by and say hello, as usual, a good time awaits us this Friday Feb 10th, Saturday & Sunday, this is my first convention of the year (first of many I hope) so it's pretty special. I'll be sharing a table in the 'Artist Alley' area with my friend Howard Shum, if you're not sure of our location, check the show's program we're listed under Howard Shum & Alberto Ruiz. Hope to se you there.

Back To Business

This was another great project for me because the art director granted me complete freedom to do my thing. I'm only showing you the jobs which gave me the most satisfaction and the ones in which I was allowed the liberty to create, most jobs are not like this, be prepared to struggle :) I stopped doing work for these guys only because it was hell getting paid, other than that they were the nicest people to work with.

First actual email:

"What's up Alberto? Hope all is well.

Here is a draft of the story that was supposed to run in the last issue. We
were not able to run it then because it was not submited on time. Please
call me if your interested in doing this.

Best regards,
So & So (not actual name)

DOWN BUT NOT OUT: Terrorisms Triple-Border Sanctuary.
"A dangerous greenhouse where poisonous roots are developing."
Miguel Angel Toma, SIDE

Since the demise of two of the world‚s more supportive regimes, that of the
Taliban in Afghanistan and the dictatorship of Saddaam Hussein, which
finally drew to its inevitable close with his recent capture, Islamic
terrorism‚s traditional sources of income and harbour are dissipating.
Islamic terrorism is being forced to adapt and adopt new channels of revenue
and new havens within which to scheme. A recent example of this, which is
rapidly attracting attention away from the long-established hotspots of
Central Asia, the Sudan etc., is the infiltration of known terrorist cells
into the region known as the triple border in South America. This area
provides such groups with both the desired seclusion, due to the wild
inhospitality of the Patagonian desert, and the means to fund their
organisations, due to the rampant smuggling and increasing narcotic
trafficking which pass over the three borders. . . . .

Just like in the previous assignment, I googled images of the Al Queda flag, some M-16 rifles or similar weapons, terrorists/militant pics and some inspirational images as well to get me in the mood.

As soon as I read the article I knew what I wanted to do, to understand better the assignment and not insult a whole race of people, I investigated the various terrorist organizations, how they came about, how they differ from one another, etc. it was truly fascinating I must say, I think I spent way more time researching than drawing the damn thing

From: Brandstudio Inc.
Date: Wed, 24 Mar 2004 14:08:13 -0500
Subject: Re: Three borders illustration

So & So,

Here's a low res composite of the illustration, instead of the dark
terror inspired stuff I opted for a cheerful "wish you were here" art
deco vacation postcard to convey the message of the area being a
virtual paradise for the terrorists, the arabic writing is actually the symbol
for Al Queda, everything's being re-drawn in Adobe Illustrator so it will look cleaner, sharper and a bit more angular. I'm scanning a page from an actual map of the area to give it
more authenticity.

Unless you have major objections I'm moving forward with the concept and
I'll have it in your hands on the 26th.

I manipulated some pics to create this quick composite in photoshop. It's a mystery how an atrocious comp such as this gets the green light, but who's complaining? :)

This rough helped a great deal in figuring out the color palette and placement of the elements to be drawn from scratch in Adobe Illustrator.

"AWESOME!!!! I love it!

Go with it.

I started by drawing the somewhat sinister figure with the pen tool. I used one of Adobe Illustrator's default brushes for the pattern for his headpiece.

I drew the leaves individually and masked a bitmap pattern into each one.

The typeface was changed to 'Eclat", a font created by the great Doyald Young.

The 'depth' of the background was achieved by overlapping shapes filled with gradients using different transparency blends for each shape, set at arbitrary percentages, mostly trial and error.

3 Borders

After I finished the Illustration it ocurred to me to kill some of the brightness of the figure's head dress, and give the whole thing a 'time-worn' look.

I scanned a page from an old book, place it in its own layer, right above the finished illustration and set the transparency to "darken"

I liked the results but I wanted it a bit dirtier so I duplicated the 'yellow page' layer and set the transparency blend to burn.

3 Borders

I'll see you in San Francisco.



John Beatty said...

Nicely done! Love the "step-by-step!"

Tell Howard I said "hi" in Cali!

...see you in a few weeks...


Process Junkie said...

Thanks, John! I'll give him your regards. I'll see you in Orlando.

Virginia Valle said...

Beautiful Alberto :),en la noche te leo ,q esto se ve interesante . Te cuidas!!

Chrissie A said...

Fabulous work! And it's such a treat to see the process as well as the finished piece.

St John Street said...

Your a machince and it's always the hot shit love the new page in draw great info

manucha said...

For one who does not do the kind of art that you do, it's been a good way for me to understand and learn more about this process of creativity with an unusual concept (perceptions/approaches). Fasinating.
Thanks for sharing the details.

UrbanBarbarian said...

Love the step by step. You are indeed a true maestro! I look forward to your blog daily!

Tim Szabo said...

Fun blog! Great variety. I think I'll bookmark this one.

Sandra Khoo said...

Great piece this! ^^ It really does look like a tropical vacation postcard stuck on an old comic page...sumthin' like that.

Widarchitect said...

The step by step is great and the finished piece brilliant!

FrogDaddy said...

everyday i link up to this site and every day i let out a large, grateful exhale that i don't have to pay for
access to this wonderfully informative blog....amazing tutorial professor, i'll bring an apple to the next class.

Charles said...

NIce work, buddy!!! Hope you have
a blast at WonderCon.


Lesley said...

Brilliant post! I really enjoyed reading about how you got from the brief to the finished piece. Truely fascinating! Thanks for sharing!


right on for sharing your process you junkie. hope you and howard have am awesome time at wondercon. wish i could be there, i miss my hometown. but hey theres always comic-con, you coming out to san diego this year?

william wray said...

You do break it down, so well.

-b- said...

i cant believe you would use your art for such an unknowledgable article. the only people that believe that terror organizations existed in iraq pre-u.s. invasion are bush supporters. the rest of the world disagrees--not as a matter of opinion, but fact. after seeing your artwork for this article, i think this is my last visit to your site. there is already enough govt propaganda forced on the u.s. people for me to have to endure it affecting comics.

Process Junkie said...

Thank you all for the nice comments!!

-b- Gore Vidal said "The war on Terror is like the war on dandruff" I believe that, I'm not happy about having my civil rights violated in order to facilitate the "War on Terror" I'm not that gullible to buy into that whole WMD crap reasoning to go to war, even if it were true because there are other ways to keep these tyrans in check, but I still believe (and this is MY OPINION) that Sadam was capable of that and more and that includes supporting scum, do I know for a fact that he supported terrorists? NO and neither do you. I don't think the writer said there were terrorist organizations operating in Iraq, (you should read the entire article) but rather that the Sadam regime supported them, that could have happened in many ways shapes or forms, we will never get to know the precise facts. I was just illustrating this man's opinion, which I happened to find interesting, do I have to subscribe to all of his theories in order to illustrate the point he's making regarding terrorist cells in South America? I don't think so. This is a sensitive subject so I opted to show in my illustration the part of the story that made more sense to me, and that is the triple border as a potential heaven for known terrorists organizations, period! I don't give a shit whether Sadam supported terrorists or not, that is not what my drawing says, I was not making a political statement. I am not a politician. The article was written by an individual, the magazine stated clearly that this is his opinion and not "the truth" , do I know all the facts? no, do you,-b-? I don't think so!

I believe no one knows all the facts, excluding the main participants and they are not going to tell us, there's so much bullshit and spins from all sides and political games being played every second, I did not approve of going to war, if that's what you are accusing me of and no, I don't buy into the Bush regime's warmonging ideology, I don't approve of the troops being there and I don't support them because that was a choice they made, no one forced them to go, I do feel terribly sad for them because they were lied to into dying for an unworthy cause, does that mean I'm against America? no, it means I'm agaisnt american goverment policies, furthermore I believe this whole thing (not unlike most american military interventions) is about protecting American interests as it always has been and will continue to be until the end of time, I don't think I've offended anyone (including lovely Sadam) You don't want to come to my blog, well, that's the beauty of it, you don't have to, but i think you got it all wrong.

Thanks for expressing YOUR opinion, no hard feelings.


Anonymous said...


I came across your site and this blog entry.

It's a wonderful piece on a purely aesthetic standpoint, but it does have a painful racist perspective. A good part of what makes it so bad is that you seem completely oblivious to the fact that the image of the ugly arab has permeated your psyche.

It hurts the same way every Halloween at my little son's school there always seems to be a kid who is dressed up as an armed arab villain. That image is so pervasive in America and it's sad to see it here in the body of work of a very talented young artist.

Thanks for reading,


Process Junkie said...

That is true, it is an ugly icon, not uglier than the black pimp, the drunken indian or the lazy mexican; ignorant people will always see the stereotype and the uglyness in anything/anyone who seems different, different is threatening to most people.

Racist? I don't have one racist bone in my black/latino body, I can see why this affects you, but this article deals with middle eastern individuals of arabic persuasion, my representation is that of an iconic nature, it is quite unfortunate and I feel sad to know that you find my work to be racist, but that's not the intention, that was just the subject matter being depicted.

Had the story been different, say, about a Irish terrorist group or a neo nazi organization or Jewish paramilitary group or about Colombian drug dealers I would have done the same, I am a satirist and a visual artist I deal with icons, cliches and symbols, and I don't discriminate, the truth is, there are evil people of all nationalities, including blacks, whites, latinos, jews and arabs, my drawing is not treating all arabs as terrorists but a mere reflection of what the article is about.

I can only defend the drawing knowing that in my heart I harbor no ill feelings towards any race or people , I reserve my hate for individuals.

Thanks for your comments.