Posted April 6, 2016 by Kerry McFall
The March 2016 issue of ZooNooZ magazine from the San Diego Zoo had a hypnotic photo of a tiger cub on the cover. It combined the warm fuzzies of a kitten stalking its prey with the full-on predatory intensity of a major carnivore in its brilliant green eyes – I couldn’t leave it out on the coffee table, it followed me around the room. When I finally was able to make a sketch based on it, I was pleased with the soft fur effect that came from using a damp sponge to apply the watercolor, but I couldn’t decide if I liked the grey outlines or not. I felt like I captured a good portrayal of the coming pounce, and I liked the little bit of license that I took with the shapes of stripes and whiskers, but the colors were too tame… my inner voice said, “Stop messing with it before you wreck it!”. So I did, until I needed to turn it into a birthday card for a teenage boy.
This particular teenager I haven’t been able to be with in person for too many years, but I know from Facebook and Skype that he is the epitome of “warm fuzzy” adolescence rushing into the sharp-edged intensity of approaching adulthood. Taking the image of the sketch into Photoshop was the solution: mess around all I want, but don’t change the sketch itself. So above is the “final final”, which primarily used a combination of the Cutout tool and the Poster Edge tool. (There’s no way I could re-create the sequence that actually got me to this result, it’s kind of like foostering around on the Internet – I have no idea how I got somewhere… ) There was then that inevitable moment when the voice said, “Ooh, what if you filled in the white part of the background with black instead?”…Nah. I’m ready to move on to my next challenge: lettuce. No eyes, no motion, no fur, no threat!
Working with this in Photoshop was a great idea. That way you still have the softness of the original sketch. I like your idea of using it as a card.