Profile and Process Peter James Field

Peter James Field graduated in 2005 from the University of Brighton with a degree in illustration. His clients include the BBC and many leading newspapers and magazines.

To generate ideas, Field will often start by juxtaposing different bits of reference material or pre-existing sketches and textures. “Very often I start with a collage, sometimes digital, sometimes analogue, which I then draw from using traditional materials. I also do lots of very straightforward naturalistic sketches from my own reference photos or, where possible, from direct observation.”

His work is completely hand-drawn, but digital processes figure highly. “When I scan the collaged reference material, I often make big changes to the contrast or colours of the original sketch before it’s suitable to send to a client,” he says. “Sometimes I spend many hours in Photoshop cleaning up and perfecting the appearance of a sketch. Often I also digitally combine several drawn elements or background textures.”

Working from reference pictures does have its drawbacks, he says. “Some sitters would be insulted to have their own personal uniqueness edited, whereas others may expect flattery as a matter of course. Asking before you start can save a lot of trouble later on.”