Illustrator Stacey Thomas mixes real models with digital painting for her charmingly whimsical pieces

Photoshop meets traditional model-making in the work of this talented up-and-coming artist.

You know Digital Arts always likes a rising star, and one new name to add to the list is the UK's Stacey Thomas, an illustrator who has a deft touch when it comes to making nicely whimsical and colourful pieces that come from a multi-media production process.

"The first step for me is always to start handling the materials, for example balsa wood and coloured paper," Stacey tells DA by email. "I don’t do a lot of preparatory sketches, maybe just a couple of thumbnails to work out the basic form because I know that once I begin making the model, things will take shape in ways I wasn’t necessarily expecting. It’s best to be spontaneous, and to let the materials guide the process."

"The next thing to do is to photograph the model - this is the point where I have to start thinking about how to create a balanced image, rather than just leaving the model floating in space.

"I’ll play around with different coloured backdrops, taking photos from various angles, until I find the composition that shows the model to its best advantage.

Once Stacey has a photo she's happy with, she opens up Photoshop to begin editing it, cutting out details she doesn't want e.g. the strings holding up the plastic smoke in the boat image. "I then draw in new details," she continues, "like fish jumping out of the water. I try to make every adjustment on a different layer, so it’s easy to go back and change things if I need to."

"When I’m drawing onto a photo, I don’t worry about making the drawing photorealistic. It just needs to be the same kind of style as the model, and the same colour scheme, so that there’s a consistency across the whole image.

"The blur tool is really useful for sending parts of the drawing out of focus, so that they match the photo around them.""

Check out more of Stacey's charming work on her official site.

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