I recently completed a really interesting commission for the Radio Times to design the livery pages for Good Friday, Easter Day and Easter Monday. Also required were three decorative Easter eggs to be used for an Easter Egg hunt within the magazine itself. The format set for these images make it a unique proposition when planning the artwork. The illustration has to work within a landscape strip format which will be tightly cropped when printed, it has to sit in-between the typography present and have a starting point of the RT colour coded background. So before pencil is even applied to paper there are set of constraints to adhere to which add to the challenge.
A theme of 'family' was discussed, possibly the idea of 'returning home' - so I set about combining the idea of a pair of birds (roughly based on green woodpeckers) traveling through the first two images, to arrive at a nest in the third, combined with references for the relative subject of each day. After the overall concept was approved, I set about sketching out rough after rough until the designs took shape.
Good Friday was the first image sketched out - working around a strong sunrise in the centre and gathering storm clouds above the crosses on the lhs, balanced with the birds in silhouette crossing the scene on the rhs.
Easter Day shows the birds closer up, flying to their nest and passing over a bright spring landscape with a selection of spring flowers to their nest.
Easter Monday shows the birds closer still with the chicks in the nest having recently hatched.
Although the three images look relatively simple in composition, the number of roughs to get to this stage were many - re-draw after re-draw playing with the character scale and placement, and how the negative space envelopes around each item in the composition. Once roughs were approved, the finished images were rendered in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, most of the construction work initially completed in Illustrator, with mood and atmosphere added in PS.
Despite the challenge of the format and the many hours spent refining the designs, this was a cracking commission from start to finish - love the challenge of the tight format! If you want to check out the printed images, the Radio Times Easter edition is out today.
Shown are close ups of the three original images as rendered with the full bleed. At least 8mm off the top and bottom will be lost when cropped for print as can be seen in the two proofs, so a very tight design is required to fit the space.