How to give old reference drawings new life

Illustrations of a female figure by Anna Hollinrake
(Image credit: Anna Hollinrake)

When I paid a visit to the Legion of Honor museum in San Francisco, I wasn’t prepared for the abject beauty and craftsmanship on display at Guo Pei’s Couture Fantasy exhibit. So much so that I spent three hours moving from piece to piece, drawing frantically until my iPad died. I wanted to do a fully fledged illustration inspired by what I’d seen, but crucially they weren’t my designs. However, it wasn’t like I was lacking in reference. One search into my Google Photos led to a wealth of potential directions with personal experience, I just needed a solid shove to actually use them.

In this tutorial, I’ll be going through my thinking and painting process for Midsummer Tournament of the Well, directly inspired by one of Guo Pei’s incredible designs. I’ve worked as an artist in games and animation for almost nine years, and recently founded my own games studio Electric Saint, but my process is still ever changing and developing, so I hope you can find something useful, or at least commiserate as I repaint a leg for the fifth time.

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Anna is a concept and environment artist at Climax Studios, specialising in designing for VR, low poly modelling, talking about mental health in games, and excessive whimsy.