Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I Want My Fuel TV!


Fuel TV
Eyerus + Visual Communication Studio (the agency)


In homage to early-80s montage-style TV Guide covers, this art is the cover for a faux TV Guide-style publication promoting network programing and personalities found on Fuel TV.


Create something wild and wacky, with as many visual detours as possible, and a kitschy 70s vibe. Include personalities of 3 of their main shows: Captain and Casey of The Captain and Casey Show, James "Bubba" Stewart of Bubba's World, and Laban Phiedas and Ted Newsome of American Misfits.

Also include the network's 6 core action sports: snowboarding, bmx, motocross, surfing, wakeboarding, and skateboarding.


Research I spent some time digging into Fuel.tv, the client's website, learning what makes the network tick. I also went through each represented show's vast photo galleries to pluck potential reference.

Compositing Time to start laying things down and see what kind of grayscale compositions I could flesh out. Montage illustrations are a different breed of animal. Of course, basic principles of 2D black and white composition come into play -- value, weight, shape, movement, and space -- but other challenges, inherent to the montage, present themselves...

Space One can't simply slap figures and objects onto a montage illustration without forethought to their relationship to each other in space as well as their light source, otherwise one has a recipe for a disparate cut-out mess. The twist -- figures now become the landscape, and not only need to work together in space, but also define it.

There are 2 planes of reality, here. First, the large background figures. They provide weight and define overall movement, due to their large size, shape, and visual importance (both to the network and to the crux of this illustration's story).

The second plane of reality lies with the smaller figures, in front. Since they are of a relative size, they need to all work together, perspectively -- larger in front, smaller in back, and with a consistent vanishing point and light source. If they don't work together or relate to one another in some decipherable way, we'll have confusion.

In a montage, there are already lots of elements with which to cause potential confusion, if not planned carefully. Without a believable sense of space, the viewer is guaranteed to be confused. Unintended confusion equals an unsuccessful illustration.


My first sketches were sparse. I mistakenly thought the 6 core sports could be hinted at without including all.

The client liked the direction, but wanted to be sure to include all 6 sports.

A preferred composition was chosen and I added the missing sports.

This was a step forward, but I needed to up the humor and wackiness quotient to properly reflect the sensibility of the network as well as the concept of the cover. Think 70s kitsch -- Cannonball Run.

Real close, but lose Mr. Stewart's Rick James 'do and put the gals in "Token Hotties" shirts (integral to one of their shows).

Done and done. Here is the approved sketch.

Now, step-by-step through the final. But, first...


In addition to a 5 in. x 7.5 in. periodical cover, the art would be used as a 5 ft. tall poster for a client presentation. I produced the illustration with that large final output size in mind, creating the underpainting on a sheet of 30 in. x 40 in. gessoed illustration board, scanning at a high dpi, and finalizing the art at about 4 ft. W x 6 ft. H at the dpi required for the printing device.

The final "underpainting."

Scanned and tidied up with values complete.


Quality people make it easy to go the extra mile. My client is happy, which, in turn, makes me very happy. When coupled with the art's fun subject matter and uniqueness to much of my portfolio, this turned out to be one of my favorite illustrations I've done.

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...

Very nice to see the process on this one. You pulled it off! How do you make your initial sketches? Were they the scanned reference photos assembled in Photoshop with a few effects applied? It makes sense to do it this way to save time and effort.

Allan Burch said...

Thanks, Mark. My sketches, in this instance, are essentially what you describe. Doing them digitally does save time and still allows me to clearly communicate every design decision -- composition and value patterns chief among them.

I'm glad you liked seeing the process.

pve design said...

Just happened upon your work today and it is amazing.
I want some of your fuel!!!

Allan Burch said...

Thank you, pve! And, thanks for checking out my work.

David Hohn said...

I'm finding this a bit late but . . . Excellent image! Loved reading about and looking at your process for this image.

Allan Burch said...

Thanks, David! I appreciate your checking out my work. I'm glad you enjoyed the process, too.