Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 27, 2011

Illustrator Saturday – Adam Hunter Peck

Adam Hunter Peck is an illustrator specializing in book covers, interiors, editorial, institutional, and game art. His favorite genres are fantasy, science fiction, and children’s book illustration, but he’s always up for a new challenge.

Adam’s clients include Pearson, Odyssey Magazine, Fairwood Press & Talebones Magazine, and his work has appeared in juried publications by the Society of Illustrators and Communication Arts.

Adam graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with honors.

Does the first picture below look familiar? It is another version of the illustration we used for our prompt.

Here is Adam with a little bit about his process:

When I’ve received and read an illustration brief, the first thing I do is begin sketching small thumbnails to explore composition ideas, either with a pencil or a Wacom tablet & Photoshop. Here I’m playing with perspective, silhouettes, lighting, color, and action. Once I’ve decided on a composition, I begin collecting photo references to learn more about the form and specifics of my subjects. This stage might give me interesting ideas for details to add later. Next I’ll begin a value sketch in Photoshop, blocking out the basics and gradually carving out details, much like the process of sculpting. With a solid greyscale foundation, I begin adding color and painting details.

Generally, I work exclusively digitally. I’ve found this to be optimal because it’s easy to transport, edit, and undo. When I do work physically, I paint with acrylics because it’s easy to paint over mistakes and change with layers.

Once I’ve been briefed by a client, I like to learn as much about the subject as possible. This includes asking questions, extensive research, or in the case of book illustrations, reading the book cover to cover. Being highly educated on the subject gives me more options to tell a compelling story with pictures. Once I’ve created a comprehensive color sketch, I’ll email it to the client and ask for approval, making it clear that I won’t continue until I’ve received their feedback; this is the most important exchange during the illustration process. When they give me the green light, I work until the illustration feels done, then email it and ask for feedback again. Any changes at this stage should be minor.

After graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design (illustration major), my first illustration jobs came from basement publishers who had little to offer but passionate visions for their pet projects; I considered this my stint in the minor leagues, which helped build my client list and my professional reputation. I continue to promote myself by emailing art directors of various publishing companies, entering competitions, and handing out branded postcards at conferences.

My secret weapon is my other half; my wife Courtney Autumn Martin is an incredible illustrator and invaluable critic. She gives me objective feedback throughout the entire process and pushes me to exceed adequate and stretch my illustration chops. As long as you’re comfortable accepting constructive criticism from someone close, I highly recommend partnering with a fellow illustrator or designer!

I’ve also learned a lot about illustration indirectly from my day job as a web designer. I utilize the same elements of design – composition, value, color, and typography – as another form of visual communication to capture and direct the audience’s eye. I would recommend all illustrators dive into other forms of art and design to inform new perspectives.

As the print industry continues to be transformed by the web, I believe it’s important to learn about the new ways that illustration can be used digitally. With the tremendous popularity in apps for smartphones and tablets, there are now wonderful opportunities for illustrators to join small web-publishing companies, or self-publish. Like the major shift in the news and music industries, it’s becoming easier than ever for an individual creator to bypass the burdensome bureaucracy of a complicated company and directly publish and market themself for free using social media, forums, and blogs.









Thank you Adam for sharing your illustrations and glimpse at your process. You can visit Adam at

Talk tomorrow,



  1. I will NEVER tire of your “Illustrator Saturday,” Kathy! This was SO enjoyable and informative. I absolutely love it.

    And thank you, Adam, for sharing 🙂 It’s amazing what a difference the color/lighting in the illustration for The Glass Forest is! This version pulls you in, but with a completely different emotion. The brightness through the trees brings to mind much different ideas.

    The one Kathy gave us–“The Dark Glass Forest”–was such a moving image, I was compelled to write a first page! I don’t know if mine will be critiqued here, but I’d be happy to send it to you if you’re interested to see what you inspired 🙂 I’m almost moved to write another first page due to the “bright” version! lol

    Thanks again, Kathy and Adam 🙂


  2. Wow, these are amazing! Thanks for sharing, Adam and Kathy.


  3. I love this post – such wonderful illustrations 🙂


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