ANIMAL’s feature Artist’s Notebook asks artists to show us their original “idea sketch” next to a finished artwork or project. For this edition, Nathan Doverspike explains how he created his “New York Island” map.

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When researching the history of New York I created a mind map of all the possible objects I could add in the illustration. I drew super rough sketches of everything I thought I might add in the illustration so I would have a nice visual reference I could pull from.

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I started the illustration by lightly sketching the silhouettes of objects with a pencil on a 22”X28” sheet of watercolor paper. All I was worried about at this point in the process was the space relationship of objects in the image. After I was content with the placement of all the objects I then started penciling in the details. Then I inked the line work with a watercolor brush and India ink.

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Everything was hand drawn with a brush and ink. I have been using this medium for about five years. Here is a detail shot of the line work. To achieve a gradient I use a Micron marker to stipple.

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The whole illustration is inked and ready to be colored. Working with ink has a lot of risk involved, because if I screw up there is almost no way to fix it. Even though there is a lot of risk, inking is the most enjoyable part of the process for me because I love the way a brush looks and feels gliding across the paper.

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Transition from black and white to color.

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I color all of my illustrations in Adobe Photoshop. The program allows me to experiment with multiple colors before I commit to a final color pallet. I work with flat colors, rarely using gradients.

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Here’s the final illustration, which the artist is currently trying to fund on Kickstarter.

Some more background on the project:

After the unexpected success with the Pittsburgh illustration my teachers at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh encouraged me to explore more cities and illustrate them. In 2014, I visited New York and became obsessed with the idea of capturing the essence of the city in one picture. After I graduated at the end of 2014, I spent one month researching the history of the city and three months illustrating the image. The illustration was hand drawn with a brush and ink then colored digitally. The illustration consists of the buildings, pop culture, and history of New York from the past, present, and future.

(Images: Nathan Doverspike)