Creating the designs requires both time and a lot of patience. The artist can observe the most intricate details and the ability to both see and feel how the finished design could look plays a major part in the creative process.
Drawing freehand, playing with perspective, creates a ‘fish-eye’ effect – a signature style of his artwork. Some designs can take just a week or two, for smaller-scale projects, but for something more complex, such as a wide panoramic cityscape, this can entail working for up to several months on it: even drawing each single building up to 20 or possibly 30 times to get it just right.
Before starting on a new design, the artist will research the area; using bird’s-eye view pictures, satellite images, city maps and books; walk around to get a feel for the area, the buildings, structures and space; then start to plan how he can translate all of this into art. He is very much a ‘big city’ person and just simply adores the hustle and bustle which helps him to capture the movement and energy of a city through a mix of colour, style and imagination.
For the majority of images the underlying layout and structure of the city is planned and drafted first, and on this layout the buildings are placed one next to another (all by hand sketching) until the image is completed. Some images, however, can grow organically without any planned layout, for example, the first panoramic view of ‘London Looking North’.
Once all the outlines are completed for the individual buildings they are traced as one contiguous line drawing and then scanned in to the computer to be colourised digitally. This enables the planning and creation of various colouring styles using the same drawings.
“When I first look at the blank paper I don't really know where to start! But then I just put pen to paper, take a look at the book, or the map, and just sketch what I see in my mind. I get a great buzz when I see the image growing on the paper in front of me and I enjoy every single minute of it.” (Hartwig Braun)
The following images show the process in more detail. Notice the layers of tracing paper stacked on top of each other and the use of different colours and pen thicknesses to slowly build up each stage of the design:
Once the artist is happy with the individual details, perspective and look of the last drafts for each section, he uses a thin black pen to create a final contiguous line drawing and a final draft for the entire design, to be scanned in and colourised digitally: