As the name suggests, photorealism is a form of art that seeks to create the appearance that the illustration is actually a photo. Also, as you might guess, this art form is very difficult.
I genuinely thought this would be the most difficult thing I will ever do, and it probably will be but more importantly, this is the greatest growing experience I have ever had.
This illustration, as any illustration, began with finding photo references and sketching. Here is just a small sample of the sketches I started with and the main reference photo I used
These sketches gave me a basic idea of what I would be doing. What the face would look like, what they hands would look like, the details that I would have to make photorealistic. Sketching them was easy, the photorealistic part, not so much.
Trust the Process
The process for this illustration was as simple as, take it step by step. It was amazing to see that as I made tons of little seemingly insignificant changes that the watch began to take shape. Here is an example of the watch without any depth added to it, the basic illustration if you will.
The basis of any good illustration is having a solid foundation to work off of. That’s what I did with this. Here’s the finished product (don’t worry, I’ll go into all the specifics soon).
How I got from draft to final was a long, straining process. From gradients to gaussian blurs to blends to the shape builder, this watch has it all.
The first main step I took was adding depth to the face. Between conveniently placed highlights and shadows using MANY gradients and blurring said gradients, it went pretty smoothly. I found that the more I made tiny changes to each and every gradient, the watch face came alive.
The next step was finding the right way to blend everything together. For the most part I used the “screen” blending option for highlights, “multiply” for shadows and “overlay” for anything in between. This process of creating gradients, blurring them and blending them was repeated for almost every aspect of the watch to create depth.
The Finishing Touches
The last step I took that really brought this watch to a whole new level was the attention to detail. Making sure that the stitching looked realistic or adding just the right lines to create the appearance of an edge. This part was the most tedious for sure but made all the difference in the world.
The thing that I learned the most from creating this watch was a simple, yet powerful lesson. I CAN DO HARD THINGS. It’s hard to be patient enough with myself to spend who know’s how long fixing one line so it looks enough like an edge. It’s hard to walk away from a project that I’ve run out of creative juice on and return later when I’m ready. It’s hard to spend hours and hours and hours on one project. However, it’s easy to look at the finished product and feel a strong sense of pride in what I’ve done.