Beauty is a Black Hole (video tutorial)

By March 31, 2010November 30th, 201114 Comments
Reading time: 2 minutes

I’ve released my first ever FEATURE LENGTH video tutorial! It’s a 2 HOUR, real-time walk-through of my creation of the illustration Beauty is a Black Hole, a dark and doomy record cover.

I share the intimate details of my illustration and design process in his two hour video tutorial “Wacom Illustration Techniques”. You’ll learn the process for manipulation and compilation of photos for reference, secrets of illustration with a Wacom tablet, and techniques for adding color and texture to finalize the piece.

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the final artwork

Photo manipulation

  • Setting up document
  • Finding reference photos
  • Combining references photos into cohesive composite reference.
  • Aligning the anatomy of a reference skull to a stock photo.
  • Using layer masks to clean up composite reference.

progress shot


Ideal brush settings for use with a Wacom.
Drawing the skull

  • Roughing in main outlines.
  • Adding illustrated hash lines and stipple dots to suggest shading.
  • Knowing the difference between anatomy & illustration.
  • See the entire skull drawn in real time.
  • Drawing more realistic teeth.
  • Interpreting detail from the dull areas of the reference photo.
  • Adding texture with illustration techniques.

progress shot

Drawing hair

  • Creating your own style from insufficient reference material.
  • “Chunking” areas of hair to frame the flow.
  • Subdividing the chunks to fill in the hair.
  • Controlling line density to suggest light & dark areas.
  • Drawing hair like a twisting tube.
  • Getting in the zone with the lines.

Beauty is a Black Hole detail shot

Adding type, texture, & color

Adding fill and texture

  • Filling the linework with a background color.
  • Adding “noise” with texture.
  • Blending in the artwork to the background with layer masks.
  • Creating noise textures with the “guess & check” method.
  • Adding positive & negative noise to the foreground & background to add cohesion.

progress shot

Adding type

  • Combining faces, weights, sizes & kerning for perfect type treatment.
  • Using Photoshop’s align & distribute functions.
  • Simulating ink bleed on the type.

Adding color

  • Experimenting with textures & layer blending modes.
  • Applying the global vintage color treatment.
  • Spot blurring to add visual interest.
  • Adding grain & sharpness with the high pass filter.

Beauty is a Black Hole detail shot

2 hour video tutorial from Jeff Finley

Purchase Video Tutorial

Art Print now available:

Beauty is a Black Hole by Go Media
Beauty is a Black Hole by Go Media

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