Posted by: Kathy Temean | June 4, 2016

Illustrator Saturday – Tim Bowers – Process

Tim Bowers discusses creating the artwork for
Granville’s Hot Licks Bluesfest Poster (2014).

bowers-bluesfest 14 startingprocess1

2014 idea sketches with the last two years artwork in the background.

I found some really cool reference photos and started working with those, keeping as far from the exact photo as I could (I don’t want to get a letter from some photographer’s copyright attorney). I kept getting nowhere. The sketches were dull, something was missing. I wasn’t getting what I wanted. It was driving me crazy. There were some “O.K.” designs but this is the Hot Licks Bluesfest…O.K. wouldn’t cut it!

Then, I realized that I was too focused on the reference photos. I kept forcing the poster design to conform to the pictures. They were preventing me from finding a great solution to the poster design.

I put everything away and started over, trying to capture an overall energy in the composition. After I got a descent design, I could find or construct some photo reference to support it. Plus, this wasn’t suppose to be a Johnny Winter or Rory Block poster. It’s a Hot Licks Bluesfest poster. Although I like to include something that relates to the headliner, it isn’t a portrait.

bowers-bluesfest 14 startingprocess2

Thumbnail (idea) sketches approx. 1.5 x 2.5 inches.

Finally! I started to see something that I liked. The sketch on the left seemed a little too country.  It’s the Blues-fest…not Country-fest.

bowers-bluesfest 14 process3

Note to self: Remember to keep it simple. Focus on big shapes instead of detail. Detail will come later.

Then, from the thumbnail sketch, I enlarged the design and blocked in the shapes.

bowers-bluesfest 14 sketch process5

Sketches were done on tracing paper so that I could refine the drawing and add more detail on each layer.

Then it started to feel right. It had some energy. It had some burn and despair…it’s the Blues, baby.  And, I could finally stop singin’ the Blues Poster Blues.

bowers-bluesfest 14 sk

Final sketch, ready to submit for approval. The space along the left side is for sponsor logos.

So, I’m back on track…ready to get to it! Now, I start the final artwork.

bowers-bluesfest 14 process1

First, I blocked in the shapes over my drawing with acrylic washes (skin areas and guitar) and painted in the shapes that I know were going to be very dark, almost black (sky, shirt and shoes).

bowers-bluesfest 14 process2

Then, I started to add detail to the character’s face, trying to capture the moon lighting.

bowers-bluesfest 14 process4

From the face, I kept working outward, adding more detail to the hands and guitar. I kept the light source in mind and decided where and how it would hit each part of the image.

bowers-bluesfest 14 process5

You could still see some of my pencil drawing under the acrylic washed areas.

bowers-bluesfest 14 process6

After the hands and guitar were mostly completed with detail, I started to work out the affect of a second light source. The words- “HOT LICKS”(in bright orange-red) will be placed along the backside of the character.

bowers-bluesfest 14 process7

Here, you can see the warm light hitting the hands, guitar neck and body, etc.

bowers-bluesfest 14 process8

When most of the image was finished, I went back to the top area and added some stars and stylized steam, rising from the image.

bowers-bluesfest 14 process10

Small detail was added, sweat on the player’s face and warm light on the underside of his hat and ear. I love adding little touches like that to a piece…kind of an afterthought but it works.

14 bluesfest final art sm

Here is the finished poster with the type.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Wow! fabulous perspective, Tim!


  2. Super linework…I love the final sketch as much as the finished poster!


  3. Definitely brought that energy!


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