Step 11
Repeat steps 7 through 10 on a new layer I call ‘Renee’. In some images, you may want to balance the colours by reusing the same tones in different figures. Since I liked the contrasting warm and cool tones, I did not worry about colour balancing on this image.

Step 12
Create a new layer – call it ‘Background’. Look at the larger shapes of colour behind the foreground figures and define their outlines loosely. Too much detail in the background will be a distraction from the figures. You simply want a patchwork of colour to suggest an environment.

Step 13
Once the whole image is filled in, create a new ‘Correction Below’ layer at the very bottom to quickly fill in any gaps in the image. Use colours from the upper layers and draw with large blobs. Don’t worry about being too artistic here – you’re just filling space.

Step 14
Clean up your illustration by creating a new ‘Correction Above’ layer on top of everything but the ‘Inks’ layer. Unlock the Reference layer and drag the image out to the side to compare it side-by-side.

Simplify your colour schemes and shapes. Zoom in to the image and cover over any unwanted ugly spurs in the shapes. Manipulate the shapes in all the layers with the direct-selection tool until you’re satisfied with the results.

Who: Aaron ‘Ren’ Sacco
Austin-based Sacco is experienced in fine art, illustration, animation, murals and graphic design. He specializes in detailed representional art, such as portraiture, where likeness is important, and has a passion for abstract expressionist painting and drawing.

Software: Adobe Illustrator
Time to complete: Five hours