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  • Writer's pictureKevin Roeckl

Louie portrait in progress 6

Sometimes these “in progress” posts are photos I take with my phone while working. Other times I scan the artwork to make a jpg. The client Dean asked what I mean by “scan” the artwork. Here's my answer:

You’ve probably seen scanners that you can buy to use with a computer. It has a flat glass surface, like a Xerox machine where you can put a piece of paper on the glass, close the lid, and the machine scans it to make a copy. Since I work on paper, I can put my original artwork on the scanner bed and scan it. It takes 8 separate scans to get the whole 20 x 26 inch portrait, which I then “stitch together” with Photoshop into one picture. That’s time-consuming so I don’t scan every day or while I’m working. In the meantime I take pics of my work in progress in the studio with my phone — you’ve seen those. But a phone doesn’t really capture the colors and the detail. I have a professional-quality scanner, and the scan captures every single little pencil stroke. Here’s a close-up to show you what I mean. It’s impossible to get this with a phone. You can even see how the golden-brown paper shows through the tiny gaps in the pencil strokes. That’s what will give this whole painting that "golden light” feeling that I want for Dean’s “Golden Morning Coffee with Louie” portrait.

Close-up of scanned colored pencil portrait of a Doberman

WHY do I scan my artwork?

I want to have a record of every artwork I create: a high-quality digital picture, which I can use for marketing, to show to potential clients, etc. I have a record of every artwork I’ve done in my entire career. I used to do that by photographing each artwork with my camera before it went off to the client or gallery. That was before the days of personal computers. After I got a computer I bought a high-end scanner and figured out how to scan the artwork in pieces and “stitch them together” with Photoshop. That gives me a much higher quality picture of the original artwork than I could ever get with a camera. There is only one original, and it has a beauty (in person) - a vibrancy and luminosity - that can never come across in a picture (scanned or photographed). But with a high-quality scanner I can get as close as possible.

The next picture

shows Louie's wrist, partially finished, a small piece of the scan. This shows the incredible detail I can get with my scanner. Every little pencil stroke, even the roughness of the paper that makes those white pencil strokes near the top look “broken up”. I press harder when I’m doing his fur. Those white strokes were just done lightly to show me where the white part of the blanket is when I was working on his chest.

Close-up of scanned colored pencil portrait, in progress

The reason I scan “in progress”

rather than only at the end is so I can share on social media and on my website and blog. Showing people the work in progress and talking about my technique has turned out to be the best way to connect with fans and potential clients. At first I didn’t think anyone would be interested in that. But my “in progress” posts have turned out to be quite popular. People really get pulled into the creative process. And the client loves being able to see their artwork taking shape day by day, instead of just waiting a month and me suddenly telling them, “It’s done.” So even though it’s a lot of work to scan them every few days, it’s worth it. I get a lot of enjoyment out of sharing my art with people, and the process I use to create it…I have such passion for what I do.

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