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Becky Cloonan’s Thought Bubble 2011 Logo Design Process

For 2011′s festival logo we wanted something a bit special, so we went to illustrator extraordinaire Becky Cloonan, who hit it out of the park. Becky provided us with a variety of rough sketches focusing on literary characters with a tweaked comics theme, but as soon as we saw her take on Snow White we knew that was the one for us. Below is Becky’s step-by-step process of how she went about creating the finished piece.

(All information below can be found at Becky’s Blog.)

I’ve spent the last few weeks working on an illustration for this year’s Thought Bubble festival in Leeds, England. While I was working out all the details, I remembered a few people asking me if I wouldn’t mind showing my process a bit, so I tried to take some snapshots of the picture at various stages of completion.

I’ll walk you guys through it.

After doing a few thumbnails and narrowing the ideas down, I did some pencils. At this stage they were still pretty rough, but tight enough to work over. I knew I would be inking the figures, and painting over the background in photoshop so I didn’t bother tightening the trees up much.


Then I did some color tests- this step is usually pretty important for me, because it will lay the foundation for the rest of my color work. The colors for this came easily, which was a bit of a surprise. Usually I struggle with colors, but these were pretty straightforward.

Then I went ahead and threw some ink on Snow White and the Wicked Witch, like usual- with a brush and some ink. Pretty straightforward.

After that I worked on painting the background. I call it painting, I guess even though I work in Photoshop I end up approaching it as though I was working on canvas. I start with an underpainting of the basic colors I want to use, selecting from my roughs when it suits me. Then I build it up and move objects into the foreground and background when appropriate.

Now I lay on the figures! They were relatively simple to color, I only used one or two shades to lighten and darken the flat colors. My main objective was to get Snow White to stand out- Originally my idea was to have her be completely black and white, but it just didn’t feel finished. So I added red, since I had the idea to add some to the background, and it really grounded the center of the image, and made her pop out without making her look completely removed from her environment.

Also notice on the witch, I colored the linework so the only black you see in the picture is on Snow White. This way the witch and the comics fall into the background a bit.

I wasn’t sure about the sapling on the left that I had drawn in my original sketch, but I decided that area was pretty empty and needed a little somethin somethin to pull it together more. I also added the tree behind the witch to fill the space and add another vertical. These were all pieces of my original idea that I had deemed excessive, but thought to bring them back in the end. I guess you should always just go with your gut! I tend to over-think things, and second-guess myself if I work on something for a while, not really a good habit I guess. Anyway this is the final version!


And here is a close-up: