Illustration: Ian Curtis

If you don't know who Brian Sanders is, you'll probably first recognize his poster for the last season of Mad Men: 

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Sanders's incredible illustrations peppered all sorts of book covers, magazines, newspapers, movie posters, you name it. His work is very familiar to anyone who got school-issued books with his covers, or who ever read 60s magazines. Just incredible stuff: elements of collage in many compositions, but then he would do a traditional watercolour that would blow my mind. Gorgeous.

I never knew his name until the Mad Men poster was announced, and suddenly I had a name with the work. This led me to playing a new game: figuring out how he did it: pencil scribbles, washes, ink glops, gesso overlay? There was so much going on, but as an underlying fact, he works heavily in textures. 

I spent the summer experimenting with Sanders's ideas and moving away from straight up traditional drawing. While I certainly don't have his skill and precision, I did run with his idea that you can really play with texture to create hybrids of painting and drawing. Like a mad chemist, I mixed up paints and inks and powders to try something new.

The first was a portrait of, who else? Pee Wee Herman.


This was actually a pretty laboured process. I started by drawing the face in pencil, then took ink wash and filled it in, waited for it to dry, then scribbled on top of that. I also made layers of charcoal pencil on top of the wash, then smeared it with a Kleenex, then scribbled on top of that. It's a bit loosey-goosey, but I liked how it worked out.

Next I decided to do a portrait of one of the Doctor Whos, so here's Patrick Troughton, the Second Doctor.


Same thing. Mixes of washes, scribbles, charcoal, pencil, etc. This time, to create a sky that looked kind of painterly, I mixed some dried up white ink with water. It was very gloppy and wouldn't smear very easily, which ended up in some fun swirls. After everything dried, I went back over it and worked in the final scribbles with charcoal.

More recently, I started an illustration of Ian Curtis of Joy Division - very iconic image. 

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This time, instead of laying into the image with pencil layout, I immediately laid into it with my fountain pen. I then filled in the outline with pencil and ink wash, and smeared everything with a Kleenex. Then I erased bits with the kneaded eraser.

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The next step was filling in textures with a Tombo paint marker . I did that with some quick hash brushing, then I made an India ink wash and dripped the ever living hell out of it onto the paper. It curled the thin paper up considerably.

I waited for that to dry and then filled in the coat more darkly and added some shadow to the face.

I then photographed this, and worked on the illustration from here on out digitally with a couple of apps, and it ended up looking like this:

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So basically, I'd like to explore the possibilities of texture play that digital editing has to offer. I like doing hand-drawing and then finding new ways to make it relevant. As much as I admire people who do solely digital work, I find it difficult to work with a wacom tablet. So I'll just approach it like I always do, bridging the traditional with new technology. I like how this illustration came out. The process was fun to do, as well.