Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Scratchboard illustrations can be very effective
Above are a couple of very rough composition sketches done for a small ad illustration for the Dearborn Inn.
The finished illustration was done on scratchboard, a good choice as a strong image is needed in a small ad like this.
Here is the final ad, the wand was shortened so the illustration would be a little larger. Below is the art director's layout that I had to work from for the next ad which depicts Chicken in a Basket.
The finished art, again rendered on scratchboard. The complex basketweave was easier to do using scratchboard than it would have been if I had rendered it with a pen.
I've often mentioned that I've done many samples to promote my work to ad agency art directors, it was, and still is an essential part of the business. These illustrations were done for Bob Shepperly, the Creative Director on the Buick and Opel accounts at McCann Erickson in New York. I wanted to show Bob how a strong, effective image can be achieved with the scratchboard technique, especially for newspaper ads. The sample was well received but the agency decided against this direction. I still think this type of art would have made a very effective ad campaign.
I knew Bob from his years in Detroit at McCann Erickson. When he moved to New York he used to fly Bill Wallace, a graphic designer, and I in to produce the comp layouts for his proposed ad campaigns. We worked as a team, Bill would design the ads and I would do the marker renderings. Often we would be there for two or three weeks at a time as there were several art directors that we were working with. On one occasion the agency even flew us back to Detroit for the Thanksgiving holiday, then flew us back to continue working. Our wives usually accompanied us, it was a nice vacation for them and we also enjoyed dining at some great restaurants after many hours at the drawing board.
These illustrations were part of a group done for an Esso ad. The art director wanted me to simulate old woodcuts, a perfect subject for scratchboard. In fact, working in this technique is very much like doing an actual woodcut as you scrape into the board surface with a special tool. I don't remember the art director or which ad agency this was done for, but this was one of the many assignments I was receiving from New York ad agencies.
Another sample illustration I did for my reps to present to art directors. The scratchboard medium was very strong for line work. I think that art done today using this technique would still be quite unique for newspaper ads.