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“Surrender” is this week’s topic for the Illustration Friday challenge – and I’m finished in the nick of time! This was my first attempt at a fully digital painting in many years; I usually start with a hand drawn base sketch at the very least. This was excellent practice with the Wacom graphics tablet and Photoshop. The illustration was completed in a little over two hours. I would have liked to have worked up the smoke and fire more, but I set myself a strict time limit for this one. Basically I traced around a reference image of an Elvis helicopter to get the shape right and then reduced the transparency of the photographic clipping to 20% as a guide to shading/colours, painting with the standard brush tools on the layer above. The time consuming part was selecting all the colours and building form using the dodge, burn and smudge tools. I had to resist the urge to be literal and instead put colours in places I didn’t expect them (ie. using pinks, light blues and greens to create shading). Of course I wouldn’t hesitate to use these colours were I painting on a canvas, but I find myself being more risk adverse in the digital space, which is odd, given the flexibility one has to press undo. I guess I am still more comfortable with a real brush instead of a pressure-sensitive tablet pen. One of my bad habits is that most of my illustrations are figurative, so in the future I will be focusing on the built environment, landscapes and machinery whenever I can. We sometimes see these fantastic helicopters in action during the Victorian fire season. With luck, we won’t be spotting any this year!



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