The Making of: Digital Love and Heartbreak

Justin Perkins


One of the things I like most about my illustration assignments is that I have the opportunity to face challenges that get me out of my creative comfort zone. My first assignment from North American Review did just that. Once I read the story “I Thought You Might Want To Hear About It” by Brian Hyer I knew it was going to be a challenge for me, conceptually (in a good way).

Most of the time when reading stories, ideas for images come almost immediately, but although I enjoyed reading this story nothing came to mind the first time I read it. I had to stop and read it more carefully. In the end I was taking notes and highlighting important things until I had enough information to achieve my goal of giving the viewer a piece of the story and making it interesting while keeping the same mood the story has overall.

After I went over the story and pulled out what I wanted to emphasize in the artwork, the brainstorming process became a lot easier. After I had a thumbnail I liked, I gathered the reference materials I needed and did a more refined sketch on 3 layers of tracing paper that I scanned and put on Photoshop to finish planning out the color and lighting of the illustration.

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When doing the final artwork I used acetate to separate the individual layers. For this piece I started with a gouache painting of the main character sitting at his desk at school. On the acetate, I added drawings of different elements in the story (the smart phone he uses to send messages to women online and the police shield from his run in with the law). After the original artwork was done I altered some of the colors and touched up some areas in Photoshop, then I was ready to send it in.

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Justin Perkins graduated from College for Creative Studies. A freelance illustrator and designer, he teaches art in Detriot. Justin’s first illustration for North American Review appeared in issue 298.4.