Before the prevalence of the internet, and websites like Muddy Colors, before instructional DVDs or live-streaming was a thing, there were surprisingly few ways for aspiring artists to get their hands on instructional material from contemporary illustrators. If you wanted to learn an artist’s technique, you had to hope they taught somewhere and then travel to go study under them. That was about it. I can’t express enough how difficult it was to come across the type of information we now take for granted on a daily basis.
It’s for this very reason that ‘Step-By-Step Graphics’ magazine was a godsend for countless illustrators early in their careers. Step-By-Step Graphics was a magazine dedicated to art process and tutorials from some of the best artists in the industry. If you wanted to learn how to airbrush, or use pastels, or how to oil paint like Bernie Fuchs back in the 80s and 90s, this magazine was the way you did it.
Decades later, Step By Step still has some of the best art tutorials ever documented, many from artists who have no other tutorials out there. Because of this, there are a lot of illustrators that revere this magazine, collecting and scanning pages for posterity. Matt Dicke is one such person, and was generous enough scan his personal copies and upload them for benefit of other artists.
Below is a collection of scans from the issue Step by Step documenting the inimitable Thomas Blackshear‘s ‘Gouache Wash’ and ‘Pick Out’ technique.
Amazingly, someone ended up recording Thomas Blackshear doing this workflow (along with the similar Fuchs-style pick out) and put it up on Gumroad. The price looks a little steep at first for a digital download (I believe it clocks in at about 45 bucks for a 2 hour demo) but it's worth it for anyone interested in this technique and needs to see it in action if the still photos and text description isn't helping get the knowledge across (and having both at hand to reference just makes everything better.)
Thanks the the nod. I find with illustration, that with so much work done for magazines, the content is very fleeting. Here one month and gone the next. I am glad there are blogs like Muddy Colors, Gurney Journey and Todays Inspiration, that not only share this information but also archive the illustrations for future generations. We are all standing on the shoulders of giants and these techniques and foundations of painting will always be important. So thanks for the share and here is a link to the video Andrew mentioned above. https://gumroad.com/l/VftEr I would also recommend the David Grove Book for any interested in this technique http://norfolkpress.com/david-grove-an-illustrated-life-david-grove/
I've heard of step by step magazine. Are any of these put together as a compendium?
I REALLY wish they were, but as far as I know, they are not.
Thanks for the heads up! I've never heard of this video until now.
Thanks for the links, Matt. And the time you spent scanning all of those pages. It really is like finding ancient, buried treasure. I'm particularly excited about the Robert Heindel write up. What a genius!
Yes! I'm sorry Anthony, I forgot that it was you specifically that put those videos together and I wasn't able to double check it earlier. Thank you again for recording those, they really are great little insights into this working method.
you can find old copies on ebay, i was lucky that the university i work at had bound copies and i just cherry picked the articles i was interested in for my records. I think one reason there was never a collection of demos was rights from all the artist but also they were bought by another company and changed to just STEP magazine and became very designed and lost all the illustration articles. and folded in like a year or 2.
Hey Dan your welcome. It is always fun to find hidden treasure like this. There are a lot of these old illustration techniques and tips emerging from the greats as people want to find alternatives to all digital! Have you seen Robert McGinnis documentary or the Marshall Arisman one? while they are documentaries they have short bits on how they work and they always blow me away. How McGinnis used the projector and “traced” altered his photo crafting the look of his McGinnis woman on the board was really amazing.
Where can one access the McGinnis documentary?
I don’t believe it’s currently “in print.” There’s a short promotional video on YouTube: search for “Robert McGinnis: Painting the Last Rose of Summer.”
consider me a new fan of thomas blackshear -wow!!
several years ago as a college student i had always felt stuck and couldn't finish anything past a pencil drawing as i was mostly trained that way…i've never considered snooping the internet until this year! instagram and muddy colors have really helped regarding the continuation of my art education, hah!
How exciting to discover Blackshear for the first time! I'm jealous. 😉
Yes, Anthony Thaxton, you did a wonderful job with these videos. I downloaded two and I found and continue to find they are well worth the money. You and Thomas are very generous to share this knowledge!
Hi Rachel, if you haven't already, try to locate the Society of Illustrators LA, Call for Entries poster from the early 90's. Thomas Blackshear did a poster that cvontinues to blow me away even all these years later. To know that he was in his early twenties at that time is even more amazing. I'll try to locate it and post it.
Just wondering if I'm missing pages 94 to 95 in the scans I see up? From the text on page 92, it appears the article continues to page 94 or maybe 95? (I don't want to miss any of the processes. ) : )
It may have been an ad.
I found the sequence in order. Nothing is missing. Thanks for the response.
Thank you, Glenda Rogers! I'm glad they were helpful to you. Thomas really is amazing, and he's a great person also. We're working on some other projects, and I'll share those with you guys when completed. Andrew, this is a SUPER blog! Glad to have found it. Keep up the great work