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From time to time I get asked how I create my Fire Engineering illustrations. Well, I thought I'd take this month's theme and show you the drawing process.

Every drawing that I do typically starts in my small sketchbook that I carry everywhere. If you seen me at FDIC, you've seen me with this little black book. This is my idea book - where all the things that are bouncing around in my crazy brain get scribbled out before they drive me insane!! Below is the original thumbnail for Coffee Monster.

After I decide to proceed with the illustration (many ideas are stuck in idea-book purgatory), I flesh out the idea a little more and the artwork begins to take shape. This typically starts on an 8.5x11" piece of paper. You can now start to see distinguishing signs of form and movement.

I scan this sketch into the computer and begin tweaking the image to fit the standard size format that I use for my Drawn By Fire artwork and make any subtle changes. I then print the sketch onto 11x17" paper and take to my drawing table. Once there, I will place it under a heavy duty drawing paper and flip on the lightbox built into my table. I first draw out the images in pencil, then ink in the characters and shading. Below is the original ink drawing. This gets scanned and opened in PhotoShop for painting.

Once in PhotoShop I begin painting in the separate elements. One of the funny things about going digital is that you keep habits from when you painted by hand. I still work left to right, top to bottom so I don't smear the work. Creature of habit!!

Something that I most always do is erase the hand written letters to be replaced with a font that I created. This keeps everything clean and consistent, not to mention that I'm a terrible letterer! I admire the cartoonists who can letter, I simply do not have the patience.

Below, more elements are painted with the background for this particular piece painted in last.


The finished illustration below took approximately 18 hours from thumbnail drawing to finished painting. Hope this sheds a little light on the crazy process I call work:)

Click link below to see more of Paul's work or to order prints:


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