Get off the road for St. Poison Ivy! Vroom vroom!
Friends, you know I love a fellow redhead just about as much as I love a woman who can really, truly rock. That's why I'm so excited to present to you the third epic badass in my Lady Saints of Rock series, Poison Ivy from The Cramps. Impossible though it may be to capture every molecule of her amazingness in one humble piece, I strove to do her justice as I learn more and more about digital art.
Here's the result:
Unlike the other two pieces, I wanted this one to be simpler, flatter, and more iconic. I've learned in writing as I've learned in design, it's the details you leave out that make all the difference. (Depending on the project, I'd argue!) Staying simple is really hard when you have so many tempting adjectives — and digital tools — to choose from. And, as I have also learned through writing, simpler is often a lot harder, and more time consuming.
About the process:
When I hacked together my FrankenIvy tracing template in Photoshop, I should have taken note that her hands are entwined with her guitar in a way that would make logical layer structures in Illustrator a little challenging. I spent an afternoon walk or two strategizing the best way to keep her entire upper body on the same layer, but in the end, I realized it was impossible. (Try as I might to keep my layers tidy, there always seems to be something!)
My huge learning moment in creating this piece was in using the White Arrow tool to delete parts of a pre-existing stroke so I could repurpose the remainder (via Copy and Paste in Front) on other layers, or for adding more weight to portions of the drawing (like on the inside parts of her legs, for instance). This little trick allowed me to make copies of just the right parts of her hands and fingers so I could pop them (to the bane of my organizational tendencies) onto other layers, then arrange them as necessary.
Perhaps the most gratifying part of the process was creating Poison Ivy's fishnets (of course)! It ended up being incredibly easy, much to my pleasure. I created a quick diamond shape out of two triangles using the Shape Builder tool, and then I snapped copies all around the initial shape until it started to look like fishnets. Then I made a pattern swatch out of the group of shapes, and presto! Done and done. The magical part, however, was in discovering I could not only scale but transform (in this case, rotate) the pattern inside of the shape of her legs.
It was so fun and easy! Fishnets for everyone!!
I had a hard time letting some of the details go. Her hands gave me so much trouble (in the source image, she's wearing gloves) that, after hours of trial and error, I realized definitively that keeping them streamlined was the only answer. Same with the guitar and amp details — Ivy is already so much to look at, I couldn't bear detracting from her withering gaze. The only big exception I made to my "keep it simple" motto was adding white highlights to her dress to make it look like the patent leather in the source image. This is Poison Ivy after all. She may be a saint to me, but she's still got to be dressed like the baddest bitch in town.
For the color scheme, I knew I wanted to use red and black. What (ahem, *actual*) saint popped right into mind? Saint Theresa, of course!
All of my colors came directly from Saint T over here, save for the native Illustrator black, gray, and white. I'm pleased to say I limited my palette to three colors (red, yellow, and flesh) and grayscale. That is a first for the Lady Saints!
I hope Poison Ivy inspires you to dress up (or way, way down...), break out your favorite instrument, and rule the stage!
Thanks for reading!