First let me mention I have never used Illustrator to this extent so I was very proud of myself when coming up with the designs for these icons and changing them to how they were now. I decided to make icons based off of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) because it is a tradition in my family to dress up and decorate and honor those that have passed. I have always loved creating new designs every year on my aunts or cousins faces and having to pick out matching head pieces, so it was really cool to be able to put that into actual software and create that intricacy of those designs while also simplifying it. I wanted to make 2 men and woman skulls that had matching headdresses/hats and also matching candles for each because I felt both were the most important aspects that tied to the skulls.
In my sketches I mainly focused on the structure of the face because a lot of the references I looked at online had different shapes like a mushroom skull, skull with prominent cheeks, or basic square jaw shape. In these I kind of combined some of them to see how I wanted the face as well as started drawing some designs on the eyes and forehead to have an idea of what main designs I wanted to flow throughout the matching candles and headdresses. I also started playing around with the candles and different shapes as well as whether I wanted them on a plate or in a holder. A lot of these were loosely sketched because I had a lot of ideas flowing and wanted to get every idea and aspect I had down to have an rough start going into Illustrator. I also played around with how detailed I wanted with the hats and headdresses and whether I wanted them to be super busy or minimal.
I started off with the women skulls and wanted to keep the forehead and and chin very busy because that it how faces usually are decorated while keeping the cheeks with some design and not too busy. I also wanted to do a side headdress and full headdress with plenty of flowers and colors because they usually are pretty busy and overcrowded. From having such a busy face and headpiece I wanted to keep the candles as plain as possible while also relating to the skulls. After posting these I received some good critiques that mentioned too much white space and a lot of noise near the top of the skulls as well as too many edges and too many colors. After a lot of editing and playing around with strokes and designs I added some color to the faces and created the male faces and matching hats and candles.
Here are my finished icons I am super happy with them and it has definitely gotten me ready to celebrate for the holiday!