My name is Rodney Pike
and I’m a humorous Illustrator from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I was asked to write a little something and share some of my expertise and knowledge about what I do for a living.
Well, I’m not sure how much of an expert I am but I am very passionate about my art and about Photoshop as my chosen software. I also use a 21″ Cintiq Wacom which really makes life easy and is a great compliment to Photoshop which is where I live for the most part. My opinions and experiences are a bit one sided because I am a photomanipulator using Photoshop as opposed to some photographers who may use Lightroom or other editing software. I’m more accustomed to using Camera Raw for my initial adjustments.
So, a little about what I do:
I am a humorous illustrator, photo-manipulator and most recently a digital painter specializing in photo-manipulated caricature illustration. Some of my clients include FHM Magazine, Tennis Magazine, The Village Voice Magazine, Elite Magazine, The Sun, Cater News Agency, New Coast Productions and Catchphrase Entertainment as well as several smaller publications.
I am a member of the NAPP and ISCA. I’m currently learning digital painting and incorporating it into my manipulations more and more while studying the finer points of Photoshop CS6 Extended. I only started doing this a couple of years ago, so I have a heap to learn.
Of course Photoshop is such a versatile piece of software and has in my opinion limitless potential and a lifetime of learning. CS6 and it’s much improved interface along with some crazy cool technology is right up my alley. I’m a logical thinker and CS6 is so much more logically laid out as far as the interface, it really makes learning easier and much more fun.
I didn’t start with Photoshop CS and a Cintiq though.
In October of 2010, after having laid my art down for nearly 30 years (all traditional), I stumbled across a Photoshop contest on the internet. I entered a contest and loved it. I entered another and another and before I knew it I was consumed and had entered many contests not yet realizing I had finally found my medium.
After a couple months of contests and practicing with Photoshop 7, a mouse, and a $500 PC, I discovered some very talented caricature artists and decided why not try it with photographs. Nobody was doing this at the time and it seemed I had stumbled into an untapped niche, but also my niche. Photo-manipulated caricature illustration seemed to be my thing.
After experimenting with these manipulated caricatures for only a couple of months, I was contacted by FHM Magazine and offered a 5 piece commission during a time that I was doing this for fun and had not even conceived of making money at it, and yet the fortunate turn of events afforded me the ability to buy a 21” Cintiq, a brand new iMac, and all-new software. Well, one job led to another ultimately offering me an opportunity to launch a career and live my life long dream of being an illustrator like my idol, Norman Rockwell.
Many have asked me about my techniques
and process in Photoshop and more specifically caricaturing photographs and incorporating them into my illustrations. Strangely enough, I have no process or set procedures to how I end up with an illustration or even a simple caricature study for that matter.
I simply take a face into Photoshop and start working without a clue as to where I’m going with it. My main tools for doing caricatures are the warp tool and puppet warp, occasionally tweaking small bits with the liquify filter. I just sort of let each piece lead me and I do what feels right. I know that’s not a real good answer but it’s what works for me. I am always learning, changing, improving and developing techniques for my work so any set procedures would only serve to hold me back.
There are times that I start with a blank canvas and a face with no clue as to how I’m going to exaggerate it or what the final price will be. I often spend days, even weeks on a piece that turns into a complex situational illustration and have no clue how I got there. I know this is not great material for an article especially if a reader is looking to learn from it so the best way I know to show you how I do what I do is to actually show you. I recently did a webinar for RetouchPRO Live and can be found here: RetouchPRO LIVE “Caricature” with Rodney Pike
Screenshot from my Wacom Cintiq during the retouching process
For those out there using Photoshop as your chosen editing software, I encourage beginners to study and explore all that Photoshop has to offer.
It’s a daunting task, but your work will be so much better for it. I also encourage the use of “proper tutorials” that teach the correct ways to get started with the basics and things like nondestructive editing, Camera Raw, smart objects, etc. I’m a smart object nut. I often have nested smart objects because I’m always changing my mind along the way and it’s simple to go back and edit any aspect of your files with smart objects.
Be careful when using tutorials
to learn as there are a lot of bad ones out there. Starting off on the right foot can save you lots of time and effort trying to unlearn bad habits as I did in the beginning. I started as a chopper doing Photoshop contests and just winging it. Well, I developed some very bad habits and totally neglected some great features, even in some of the earlier versions of Photoshop that have totally changed the way I do things and in some cases drastically increased my productivity and speed while improving tremendously the quality of my work.
Learn all that you can about Camera Raw, masking, channels, nondestructive editing, actions, etc.
Everyone seems to be in search of the perfect mask out there and purchasing all sorts of software to accomplish what Photoshop already does and does very well. Photoshop’s “Refine Edge” is in my opinion the closest anyone has come to the perfect mask and it’s been there. We just need to practice and learn how to fine tune it.
The quick select tool, refine edge and sometimes channels have reduced my old chopper’s technique of mask selection literally from hours to seconds and the results are 100 times better. Those are just a few examples. We all have so much to learn. It’s all there, we just need to practice!
I’m often asked in interviews what I would say to someone who aspires to do what I am fortunate enough to do for a living. My thinking is really quite simple.
I believe that talent is nothing more than the shear desire to achieve an artistic goal. The only limit to your success in art or anything you aspire to achieve in life is the limit that you put upon yourself by your own doubt. I don’t set goals, I believe goals are limits. I try to set milestones, moving from one to another continually striving to improve and get to the next level.
Why put a limit on yourself?
Aim to be the best,
believe you can be the best and work with passion to be the best (without doubting), and, I think if you want it bad enough, you will achieve it. I have a personal belief about my own work.
This may or may not be for you: When I finish a piece, it is history. I never revisit old work. I take what I’ve learned and move forward striving to make the next one even better. Why waste your time repairing old work? The best is still inside you. When I’m asked what work of mine is my favorite I tell them; “I haven’t created it yet”. Surround yourself with people and things that inspire you, stay positive and work your ass off.
There is a quote that I love:
“The question is not how far. The question is, do you possess the constitution, the depth of faith, to go as far as is needed?” ~ Unknown author.
My Links and Contact info:
Social Media Links:
Blogs & Links:
Photigy Live with Rodney Pike