Kelly Thompson: W.I.P Iii

It's always exciting when someone asks you to do a cover, particularly as an illustrator because many editors are a little cautious about it often choosing to stick to tried and true photography. Last month I was approached by Little White Lies Magazine (UK) to illustrate Cate Blanchett for their Woody Allen edition - I was provided with a mock up showing the style of my work that the magazine liked which is always very helpful, along with the following brief:

The idea:

We require quite a charming portrait of Cate that could be seen as quite perfect or beautiful, but then add some element to the portrait afterwards that suggests her signs of inner (mental) struggle and anxiety. Throughout the film, Cate is quite a mess, popping pills and swilling vodka non-stop with Mascara running down her face and marks down her cheek where her tears have eaten away at her foundation. We would like it if she looks relatively normal/happy (a reflection of her former self), but her eyes are welling up with tears and the hint of mascara beginning to roll down her face.

Colours: Please work in colour but quite muted/pale tones just like in your example. Cate has beautiful blonde hair so that could be emphasised a little. As well as her blue eyes and gold earrings.

Positioning: As far as the positioning, you can zoom out a little and show more of the top of her head and shoulders. She wears some nice fancy tops and cardigans in the movie, maybe it would be nice to catch a glimpse of one!


About the film:

A life crisis causes a socialite to head to San Francisco, where she reconnects with her sister. Blue Jasmine is quite a harrowing film, at times sad and depressing but strangely uplifting and funny at times, proving that money doesn't buy you happiness and that anytime something, or someone can pull the rug from under your feet. From the outside Jasmine looks beautiful, classically dressed in high-end fashion and talks the high society way but just on the surface there are cracks beginning to appear. Deep cracks that lead her to a nervous breakdown.

I was also provided with some various references of Cate in the film.


From here I worked up my first illustration draft, as I have mentioned in my previous posts it is always important to create your own references to avoid any copyright issues, and so I pieced together a few different photos of Cate to work from and get what I needed. I decided to throw reference to her drug dependency by featuring a light wallpaper in the background made up of pill containers, and for this draft I also included a little bit of colour just so the client had an idea of what I was thinking about for the palette. The client then decided that they wanted a full wallpaper pattern including the following elements:

- Lemon twist link

- Sunglasses

- Diamond Ring

- Mini (Stoli) Vodka Bottle link

- Pill bottle/s


At this point I then re-negotiated my fee as I had originally only priced for a portrait, not a selection of secondary elements. The client removed the sunglasses and the ring from the required elements and increased the budget to include the wallpaper.

From here I altered the hair and started to colour, I was working on two other projects at the same time so I had to do a bit of juggling. I hadn't managed to work up the wallpaper elements yet, but had started to colour so I showed the client some colour options so they had something to view as I worked on the wallpaper. I asked the client if they preferred a coloured or uncoloured shirt.


The client preferred the shirt uncoloured and then mentioned that they had liked my very original sketch (I had photographed it not scanned it), they liked how much more textured the paper had looked and asked if I could boost the the curves to bring out the texture some more. They had also done a poll around the office to see if anyone recognised her as of the office people had thought it was Angelina Jolie (??? WTF) and so they asked if I could emphasize some of the smaller details that make Cate, Cate. At this point I went back to my original refs to study her face some more. Cate has very distinguishable cheeks so I contoured her some more, added more shadows and boosted the curves to make it more contrasty.

The client liked this new version a lot more, and the office all agreed I had achieved a much better likeness. They just asked if I could adjust her hair colour a little more. I then worked on the additional wallpaper elements they had requested and resupplied the image for them to view.


Once the client viewed the image with the wallpaper they then decided they preferred her with a plain background as the wallpaper was a little distracting (don't worry I still get paid for it). The wallpaper was pulled from the cover, the illustration was approved and here is the final cover as it appears on the current issue of Little White Lies Magazine. All in all a very nice fluid job to work on and always exciting to be a cover girl!