Narrative Shadows and Pared-down Palettes with Luke Brookes

By applying a cinematic eye to his designs, Luke Brookes lights his images to dramatic effect, using colour to draw the eye and pull focus onto the narrative elements of his work.

Lighting is a tool Luke uses to define his aesthetic as much as his personable drawing style and his adept use of pared-down palettes.

He skilfully uses shadows in his illustrations to add weight and atmosphere but sometimes also as key components of the visual narrative.

He talks us through the way in which this approach to his work became so important and about some of the techniques he has developed over time.

“Hey, I’m Luke Brookes I’m an illustrator from a small market town in the UK. I specialise in editorial work but I have created illustrations for books, advertising, packaging—anything and everything!”

“My work combines a strong graphic, narrative-driven style with dramatic lighting and a restricted colour palette giving rise to vivid, graphic compositions that boast a futuristic aesthetic.”

“I always knew I wanted to be an illustrator, more importantly to tell stories through my art.”

“The narrative is so important to me,  I’m really inspired by movies, great cinematography inspires so much of my work and I always approach a composition as if I were directing a movie.” 

“My process has changed a bit over the years but I usually start with quickly sketched thumbnail drawings to solidify an idea and composition.”

“I try not to be to fussy with how polished the image is at this stage, it’s more like I’m thinking out loud on the paper.”

“Once I’m settled, I then work up a more realised rough which I then scan and work over on the computer.”

“I tend to apply all colour and texture digitally, using my Wacom tablet and Photoshop, mainly for ease of use and how much I tend to tinker and switch colours around.”

“I always work with a limited palette, usually around 4-5 colours. I love how this makes me really consider where each colour is going to be put down.”

“I have to think about how colours interact and how this will alter the lighting and composition of the piece. I find colour so interesting, I often spend just as much time deciding what colours to use as creating the artwork itself!” 

I always try to research my subject matter as much as possible before starting a project.”

“Not only is this vital to create a piece of compelling artwork but it is also a great way of me finding out new things and learning about subject matters that I sometimes didn’t even know existed.”

“That’s the beauty of what I do, the subject matters vary so much that with each piece of new work I learn something new.”

All images © Luke Brookes

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