Call Girl Process

Hey all, I thought I’d post a process journal for my latest piece, Call Girl

I started with a sketch, which I did in my moleskine notebook with a pencil, with Jo’s photo up on my wife’s laptop. I scanned it, desaturated it to take out the yellow of the paper, and played with the levels to bring it to this:

Next up I added some colours. Originally I had it all much darker and bolder with solid cyan and magenta, but it just didn’t feel right, so I pulled the colours right back to this. You can see the colours were really rough at this point.. this was more to establish the palette than anything else, so I needed to be able to sit back and quickly mess around with it.

I got that to a point I was happy with, so I did quite a bit of cleaning up of both the colours and the lines. This gave me a base I was happy to work from:

Next up I added a little extra colour in there. This was just to give it a little more character, and bring out the features a bit. I tried having much more variation, but the more I put into it the more I lost the original clean style I was after.

The next step was to add a wash of shadow. I tried a few variations around my pallet, purple, magenta.. I really liked the way the cyan looked, but it was too cold and too contrasting to the skin and hair, so in the end I went with a darker magenta. This was set to multiply and then the opacity was pulled right back. Doing the shadow as a colour rather than black really helped bring the elements of the illustration together by giving them all the uniform pinkish wash.

Normally I’d stop working on a piece around here, but to go with the rough pencils I really wanted a bit more texture over the colours.. so I did a quick search online for free watercolour textures, found one I liked and dropped it over the top. It was desaturated, then set to multiply as well and the opacity was pulled right back. There was a bit of tweaking to get it all right.

At this point I felt like while the colours all worked, I had lost the contrast of the cyan. The whole thing was just a little bit too washed out, and needed something extra.. so I made a layer of full cyan and dropped it over the top of everything, then set the layer to “color” so it all went blue. Next I added a layer mask so I could then selectively add the touches of blue. There was a fair bit of trial and error to get it glowing in some parts and just a touch in others, and this was the final result.

So there it is, the evolution of this piece. It was a few hours of work with lots of trial and error but I’m actually pretty happy with the result. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.


  • Lisadee Lisa Defazio
    Lisadee Lisa D...about 4 years ago

    love seeing this Damien

  • Thanks Lisa. I know I appreciate it when I see these sorts of journals demystifying the process of the piece, so it’s only fair I share mine too.

    – Damien Mason

  • matthewdunnart
    matthewdunnartabout 4 years ago

    Fantastic! I’m a sucker for seeing an artist process :-) Thanks for posting it up man.

  • I really love your process journals too. It’s so hard to deconstruct the final image so it’s great to see the steps along the way.

    – Damien Mason

  • vampvamp
    vampvampabout 4 years ago

    awesome dude….
    tell all your secrets, evil laugh

  • I hid the key in an egg which I hid in a duck which I hid in a dragon which I shrunk down to the size of a pea and squashed between the pages of “Return to Oz” by L Frank Baum. Unfortunately the next time I opened the book the pea was gone.

    – Damien Mason

  • vampvamp
    vampvampabout 4 years ago

    cause i found it that’s why! dont’ tell all your secrets! LOL

  • I should have known it was you when I found the saucy photo ripped out of a 50s men’s magazine you left as your calling card! Plus it said “vampvamp was ’ere” just inside the cover.

    – Damien Mason

  • Soxy Fleming
    Soxy Flemingabout 4 years ago

    you haven’t told all your secrets ( I can tell because I have lots of questions)
    your pencil scan looks good for starters…I always find pencil scans have some bits too dark and some too light and I adjust and adjust … and then give up! I’ll study this some more…

  • Hmm.. I do tend to sharpen up my pencil and go over the core lines again once I’m happy with shapes, so maybe that helps. It defines the image a bit more.. so it could mean a bit more work before scanning. The big problem I have once it’s scanned is the colour of the paper (which is a bit yellow) translating to a grey in the bg.. so I have to lighten it up, without losing the lines. That’s where the levels option in Photoshop is so good, I can pull the white up brighter, the blacks a bit darker, and move the middle line around to get it to the tone I’m after. I also found once I had set the pencils to multiply I played around with the opacity, and actually duplicated the layer so it was a bit darker – I had two copies of the pencil lines both set to multiply.

    – Damien Mason

  • © Karin  Taylor
    © Karin Taylorabout 4 years ago

    Thx for sharing your secrets with us :)
    good tip about desaturating!

  • I think the desaturation tool is awesome.. you can play with textures from anywhere and not have to worry about the colours influencing your work. You know Karin I’d love to see a journal like this from you.. your stuff is always so visually rich and complex, it’d be great to see how it evolved.

    – Damien Mason

  • vampvamp
    vampvampabout 4 years ago

    i put the teeny weeny pea under my bizillion mattresses to see if i was a real vampire! :)

  • What was the consensus? Are you a real vampire? Do you get to marry the prince? Do you have to spin a barn full of gold into thread?

    – Damien Mason

  • Kristy Spring-Brown
    Kristy Spring-...about 4 years ago

    Wow! Damien this was fantastic to read. I realised how much I am still a learner. Thanks for the tips. Your image worked out really well in the end. The watercolour texture really gave it that uniqueness as well as the blue highlights.

  • Yeah I’m still learning too. Already I’m looking at this one and thinking about what I might do differently.. still, there’s no going back, I have to look forward to the next piece :)

    – Damien Mason

  • vampvamp
    vampvampabout 4 years ago

    i have to spin my prince in a web & drain him….

  • Paul McClintock
    Paul McClintockabout 4 years ago

    You’re quite methodical and thought out. I tend to just go blah and keep adding until I’m happy. Usually this results in a very large file with far too many layers. The final step in the process for me is usually deleting a whole lot of useless layers and cleaning it all up. I probably waste a lot of time doing it this way.

  • Well, there was a lot of adding and then deleting of layers as I went.. but yeah, I’m trying to move more towards laying down all the base colours to get the basic palette working before I start refining everything. Previously my colour choices have been pretty bad because I wouldn’t think about the whole picture.

    The original sketch was pretty methodical too to be honest.. lots of tiny measurements and comparing everything to everything else ie. the length of the arm compared to the small of the back or the shapes in the negative space. I do like to do rougher life drawing but I think you need a big sheet of paper, an easel and charcoal to be able to do that properly.

    – Damien Mason