Sunday, October 18, 2009



I didn't see you come in. How have you been?

Is that so?

Well, I'll be...

Long time, no blog, you might be saying if you happen to follow these posts with any regularity.

If you don't, then, welcome! I invite you to browse around. Hopefully, you'll find something you like. If so, please drop me a line. I'd love to help with your next project.

As you might have guessed, I've been quite busy with commissioned projects, which is a good thing. But, it's come at the expense of my blogging habit. I apologize for the lapse in posts.

Let's talk about some art.

This is Melodie.

I am so very fortunate to say Melodie is one of my amazing models. One Sunday afternoon, Melodie came over and participated in a photo session. Of the many, many remarkable shots she allowed me, this one beckoned me.

During the summer of 2009, the Allan Burch Illustration model reserve was born. Basically, this is a group of very nice and very generous folks who have expressed interest in helping to model for my illustration needs.

Between its conception and birth, a call for models was posted on Craig's List. After vetting the voluminous replies, I've now come away with a healthy group of models on my team who continue to be giving with their time and energies toward enthusiastically participating in my work.

I am extra-energized by the fact my model and I are collaborating in the creative process toward something special. It's beyond just me...and that's a very good thing.

This is a personal piece, part of a series I'm producing. It's intended to have more of a fine-art flair.

I like this shot because of her elegant, iconic, yet full-of-attitude storytelling pose, coupled with unique vantage point and dramatic shadows. It was an un-posed, pose; a position she happened to take in between other shots. These unguarded moments can be some of the best kinds of poses, I think. There is an inherent beauty in the lines, attitude, and energy of the human form in those moments where she or he isn't trying to be picturesque.

In the photo, she was standing against a white backdrop. In the illustration, she should stay against a wall of some sort to keep the dramatic shadows in the picture. I thought this might also be a good opportunity to utilize pattern -- as a storytelling device, a design element, a textural contrast, and a subtle, yet intricate, secondary point of interest.

I'm kind of into patterning, at the moment. It's a nice, controlled, complex textural contrast to my simplified approach to shape and form. It makes for a nice foil to my picture's protagonist.

I've also been tinkering with a more complex color palette -- utilizing cooler temperatures in the shadows to help create a sense of space and to help direct the viewer's eye. I'll talk more about this in future posts.

My thanks to Melodie for helping to bring this illustration to fruition.

Allan Burch is an award-winning illustrator and portrait artist, providing solutions for editorial, book, advertising, and institutional projects.
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blueblood said...

I love to hear how you use models in your work – just like the "classic" illustrators of time past. When you do a celebrity portrait, however, what tricks do you use to change up your image enough from the reference photo so the AP won't come after you. Referencing the latest in Shepard Fairey's case at the link below.
Keep up the great work!

Allan Burch said...

Hi Mark,'re asking me to reveal my secrets! Okay, but don't tell.

I read your post, and have to say the 10% or x% rule is not applicable. The way it is determined in court, as I understand it, is by showing the 2 images to people and whether or not they think the work in question is directly derived from its source photo. Besides, how does one determine 10%?

I utilize a number of tricks. For my Billie Joe Armstrong piece, I found a face shot that was generic enough and looked like any number of BJA face shots out there. I plopped that on a different body shot and, I think, added the tie. I also employed some distortion.

One of the keys is to not start with a reference that is semi-well-known or unusual enough that it's recognizable as its source photo.

Sometimes, I'll combine heads and my own body or another model's body that I'll shoot myself.

If I find an unusual, interesting, recognizable photo that I just have to use, I'll re-stage it and shoot it, myself.

Sometimes, a client will provide reference that they've purchased the rights to, so I'm free-and-clear, like with my Ray Charles piece.

It is tricky, and there are places to look that give you less-obvious shots, as a starting point. But, you'll have to email me to get me to share that info. I can't reveal all my tricks. ;)

I hope that helps!

Rupali Shirke said...

amazing work. the angle you have adapted to looks difficult. The background pattern that you have made also looks amazingly difficult.

color scheme you have applied is also indelibly good.

Allan Burch said...

Thanks Rupali!