Thumbnail, Sketch, Ink, Final: Hard Hat Area

I thought it'd be neat to periodically share a piece's process from its earliest stages to its completion. I recently finished "Hard Hat Area"; my goal for this project was to visually explore a topic that's appealing to children, but that I've had little experience drawing--vehicles & construction equipment. For whatever reason I didn't expect this task to be fun, but I was wrong; I had a blast working with the more boxy shapes and mechanical details this piece required. I also realized that the best way to approach the vehicles would be to treat them as characters too, giving them as much as personality as possible.     

The thumbnails for "Hard Hat Area" were oriented vertically in the beginning. The first one was problematic because it would have rapidly resulted in a head on dump truck-bulldozer collision. The second is much closer to the layout of the final piece. 

First rough sketch of the dump truck. At this stage the driver was some sort of lizard and he looked bored, probably from driving all day.

First rough sketch of the bulldozer. This version is a lot longer than what appears in both the thumbnail and the final piece. I actually really love this dozer design; for the final, I modified it for compositional reasons, making it more compact. But the next time I draw a bulldozer it'll be more like this one, for sure.    

Sketch of a vehicle that wasn't included in the final piece. 

Ink drawing of the dump truck. After refining the sketch of this vehicle I dropped it on a light pad and inked it on a fresh sheet using brush pens & Microns. I prefer this truck's driver much more than the lizard. He's a real no nonsense guy. 

Ink drawing of the bulldozer. This is a much more compact design than in the sketch. It's tighter, a bit more stylized, and fits the space better than the prior design would have. I also think it has a "younger" look than the dozer in the sketch above, which is appropriate, because I envision this to be an image for a very young audience. 

Detail of final piece. 

Detail of final piece. 

Final colored dump truck. I used some new textures and brushes on this, opting for a soft billow of stinky exhaust spewing from both vehicles, rather than the bubbly clouds that appear in the thumbnails. I overlaid a texture to give the entire piece a bit of a grittier, rougher feel. 

Detail of final piece.

Detail of final piece.

I also used a custom Photoshop brush to depict the dust and dirt flying everywhere. But that didn't stop that bear from indulging in an entire slice of Brie cheese right in the middle of the work site.  

Final piece. 

I drew, inked & colored the background elements & secondary characters separately from the vehicles; this helped me play with the piece's composition digitally (it was actually at this later stage in the process that I decided to orient the piece horizontally). I like the versatility of this process; it allows me to make modifications easily when required and really experiment with the piece's overall look and feel.