Yuko Shimazu Yuko Shimazu Yuko Shimizu

Award winning Japanese illustrator based in New York City and instructor at School of Visual Arts.

posting on Facebook realtime (and talking to strangers while I work).

One time a friend jokingly said that I have a ‘full time position at Facebook’. What she meant was, that I was on it a lot. Yeah, OK, true. Especially when my studio-mates or neighbors are away and I am the only one on the floor. I need some social life.

I have a private page that I only accept people I personally know as ‘friends’, where  I mainly talk about non-work. And, there is this public page where anyone can join and post or comment. Initially I was a bit skeptical. I felt it was a bit too arrogant, or something like that. But the more I do, the more I like it.

I get e-mails from total strangers often. Asking for questions or favors, and sometimes messages can be long and take time to read them all. It can be a bit heavy and charged, and often I don’t have enough time to write a nice answer back. So, I put them aside, and end up never having time to write back. But with Facebook, everything is short and quick, and I can jump into conversation short and quick too.

I like watching other artists’ process. It is like peeking into the back stage. So, I want to do the same on my page too. However, often, there is non-disclosure agreement, or I have to be careful what I can show and not show because the clients have the first publishing right.
Some clients can be a bit easy on artists though, like DC Comics whom I have been working monthly for close to four years. They usually put the finished art up on the web the day after I submitted it.

So, here came my first experiment to put every step on FB  real time, from sketch to the final.
Some of you may have already seen them all, but I thought it was nice to keep the record here. And it was really fun communicating with strangers while I kept working and making progress. 

1) July 17 (Tuesday)
sketching Tuesday morning… cover for The Unwritten’s latest issue #43. We usually starts earlier in the month, but I was busy as well as the team was at ComiCon the weekend before.
Editor Shelly Bond’s memo was: “I think Tom should be on the cover, since we haven’t had him in a while, and besides, Tom has a new scruffy look, which is very attractive. But I also would love to see your drawing of unicorn too” .

2) July 20 (Friday)
Sketch got accepted in a day or so. I was finishing up other projects. Starting to ink this one as final.

3) same morning, trace the sketch onto watercolor paper and started penciling. My pencil underdrawings are usually so much looser, but this one is all about his face, so I go into details. Paper is TH Saunders Waterford cold press, pencil for underdrawing is usually HB so it is light and erases easily. (pencil for sketches are usually 3B to get the drawing down quickly)

4) same afternoon around 3PM. This is what I wrote on FB:
Face is pretty much done inking. Now I can take a late lunch break before a conference call at 4PM (with another client).
I usually don’t use photos for face, but this is such big part of the image, I decided to downloaded whole bunch of photos of men looking up for reference. Though, it doesn’t look like any particular one of the photos at the end. (just small details count, like how the eye balls sits, etc. )
india ink is from Dr. Ph. Martins Black Star Matt. Brush is a Japanese calligraphy brush. (more details on my supplies on FAQ page)

5) July 23 (Monday)
I worked till late on Friday, and took the weekend off to spend with a house-guest from Paris. Back to drawing table again. Close! The hands are of Victorian ladies. Used fantastic Fashion book from Taschen as reference and inspiration to get all the details in. when it is all about simple and graphic composition, balance between bold composition and intricate small details becomes the key. It cannot be too much about the details, or too much just about compositions.

6) July 24 (Tuesday)
One week from the sketches got started was the deadline day. I jump started on coloring the night before, and got most of the color scheme and details done. With fresh eyes, more into minor details, then to graphic design laying out all the text and logo. (I have been doing most of designs since issue #28)  Color is entirely done on Photoshop CS5.5.  Very long and complicated process. I often get asked things like ‘how do you color the lines?’ or ‘how do you put textures?’ But really, there is no one simple answer to those questions. Many different ways to color different part of a drawing. Hours and hours, and hours, of work.

7) same day in the afternoon.  Tadaaaaaa! It’s DONE. I had spent way too much time laying the text out, but finally I was happy.  I wanted the text to to sort of flow up the water with the bubbles. Editors let me do a lot smaller title treatment, and the title is fading out…

As you can see, this issue won’t come out for a while, but other issues keep coming out every month.
Thanks for reading! And, hey, talk to you on Facebook?