Sketch cards are always a fun project to work on, they’re nice little accessible pieces that are easy for people to put up on their desks at work or give away to friends in cards etc. I like them because there’s a challenge to get what you want in a very small space and often you have to just focus on the character up front and centre.
Mark commissioned the following sets through Etsy and it was quite a bit of fun because Mark has ordered from me before and has some requests. First of all, they were proper sets of three, with two main characters plus a third object that would go between them to be balanced. I like this presentation thinking because when you frame them they come up really neatly. Not that random cards don’t look good together, the Marvel ones I did aren’t connected at all yet look awesome laid out together.
The second directive I was given was that the Beauty and the Beast cards were to be based on the cartoon and not the live action remake. Cartoons always present a little exercise in overcoming the original illustrator’s style of drawing. I did offer in this case to draw in Disney style as that can sometimes be a fun challenge in itself but I was graciously declined on the offer which, to be honest, is the best. You want something unique.
So here are the three main phases of the work.
Sketch card pencils
The pencils are the rough guide for me, though with sketch cards I admit the end product does often reflect the pencils a lot closer than one of my bigger pieces. There’s just not enough space to allow myself to go off an inking tangent so I try and keep the pencils pretty tight. Bill and Ted were pretty straightforward once I worked out what pose I was going to put them in. They’re probably in a narrow pose for their usual arm lengths so I just adapted the angle slightly. The phone box looks more interesting from the side when there’s no one in it so I went with that, knowing I’d be adding the electrical elements later.
Bill and Ted were pretty straightforward once I worked out what pose I was going to put them in. They’re probably in a narrow pose for their usual arm lengths so I just adapted the angle slightly. The phone box looks more interesting from the side when there’s no one in it so I went with that, knowing I’d be adding the electrical elements later.
Beauty and the Beast I’m not so familiar with, if I’m being completely open I don’t think I’ve actually ever watched the film, or the live action one for that matter. Knowing that the recipient of the cards is a big fan I was a little daunted by the whole thing. I drew Belle’s card several times and whilst I had a pretty good idea what the beast looks like it was a whole other undertaking to draw him in my style. Both cards were left with plenty of inking wriggle room.
Sketch cards ink lines
So lots did get cleaned up in the ink lines especially for Beauty and the Beast, I also chose this point to connect them, the Bill and Ted cards were always going to be able to be connected but I decided to stretch the beast’s sleeve over to the middle card to link those as well. I added the lightning into the phone box card and used that as a great way to connect the cards and hopefully add a neat effect when the colour was added.
LOL I also only just realised when looking at these photos I didn’t sign the phone box card. I’ll probably have to go back and sign the back of it now before I pop it in the mail. There’s a couple of other lines that got added in the colouring phase as well, Belle’s collarbone and the lapels and vest on the beast.
Completed sketch cards
So when you start painting the cards that’s where you realise you’ve missed certain lines or details. Also one of the decisions I usually have to make is whether I paint black or use a sharpee instead. For the Bill and Ted set I knew if the black was inked it would appear really heavy compared to the other two cards so I just painted it black to take the edge off it. I then wanted the background to be pretty light with very little detail but I felt I had to include a Circle K. The lightning effect from the film is yellow and red and to achieve this I used a gold yellow Copic marker and a prismacolor red pencil. I also used prismacolor on Bill’s shirt. On Ted’s shirt, I used paint and pencil to give the impression of the design.
The background of the Beauty and the Beast cards was paramount to the cards because they had a certain simple elegance to them (well not the beast obviously). Purple seemed to be the colour of magic in the film so I went with a purple/orange background that worked out better than I thought it would about halfway through. There’s nothing worse than getting to this stage and fucking it all up with a really poor background choice.
The rose is Copic markers to stand out on the page, as is the gold trim on the beast, no copics apart from her flesh tone for Belle. I admittedly drew myself into a corner colour wise for the beast and had to make some choices over what browns and where. I don’t think I’d change him though.
I had some last minute additions as I mentioned before, his vest and lapels were added on the fly and I filled in some lines on Belle.
So that the lifecycle of two sketch cards sets, different in tone but with the same basic structure. One pushed me out of my comfort zone and the other was a joy to revisit the universe.
Let me know if you liked this look behind the curtain or if you have any questions throw them in the comments or over on social media, always happy to talk about my drawings.
If you’d like your own sketch card commission, they come in three packs over on the Etsy store.