Rod Hunt Describes the Process for His Vast and Intricate Worlds

Posted at 6 pm on September 9, 2012 by

Posted in: Pencil Illustration, Technology, Tutorials

Former Chairman of the Association of Illustrators, Rod Hunt continues to engage in the art and design community as a regular lecturer on self promotion and the business of illustration both in the UK and internationally. Rod’s illustrations have been seen across the board in design, print and advertising, and most recently as part of the designs for the Royal Mail’s Olympic and Paralympic Stamp Presentation Packs.

They’re rich with detail but, although populated with what seems like entire cities of little people, each character has had the same attention given to their individual story.

With worlds as vast as they are miniature, it’s almost impossible to comprehend where you’d start. Luckily, Rod’s more than happy to give us an insight into how he creates these immense scenes. He talks about the drawing process, the materials and tech he uses, as well as providing a whole load of sketches to mull over. Enjoy!

Olympic & Paralympic Stamp Presentation Pack side one.

Olympic & Paralympic Stamp Presentation Pack side two.

Everything starts in an A5 sketchbook with very rough & throwaway compositions to work out the overall page layout & where text will be placed. At this stage I purposely draw with a biro so that I can’t erase anything, keeping away from detail to keep the ideas flowing.

Compositionally, it’s important to have flow through the piece, leading the eye on a journey.

The piece has to work as a whole & not look like the sum of its parts or be disjointed. It’s important not to be seduced into the detail too soon & lose sight of the overall goal. I also need to give myself enough thinking & doodling time at the beginning of a project before producing a finished rough drawing. That’s where the real hard work is done & is the foundation of a great piece of work.

After I’m happy with the very rough compositions & idea, I moved onto creating a detailed, fully finished pencil rough, drawing with a 2B pencil on heavyweight cartridge paper usually at A3, but some of my detailed map roughs I have to draw at A1. It’s at this point I work out the amount of detail in the piece.

With some of my detailed pieces the old adage “less is more” might not initially seem to apply to my work, but it’s far from chucking loads of stuff in & hoping it holds together. If I keep adding more stuff, it doesn’t automatically make it a better piece. In lots of ways it’s like having 20 illustrations in one, each small part telling a story in itself, which then forms a larger story.

The roughs are then scanned & used as a guide in a background layer in Adobe Illustrator to produce the final artwork.

After using a normal Wacom tablet for quite a long time I decided to invest in a Wacom Cintiq to help with the work flow & speed things up. It was a pretty wise investment as drawing directly onto the screen made things much more natural & intuitive. I tend to use Illustrator as a straight drawing tool & use effects sparingly, aiming to keep the hands on feel with my work, despite producing the final artwork on the computer.

At the end of the day, the computer should just be seen another way of making a mark on a page. Everything is broken down into many layers so I can keep track of all the detail & make things easily editable for myself.


© Rod Hunt, 2012