I was approached by design and photography agency Black Square in Stirling to work with them on a whisky label for the Meadowside Blending Co. The design for the label was handled entirely by the design agency but they wanted an artist to create a piece of art specifically for the label and in a certain kind of style. I was given an almost finalised version of the bottle label and asked to work in the required scene into the space left at the bottom of the design. A few changes and additions were suggested after the first round of roughs but from there I finished a much tighter pencil rough to help the client see exactly how it would look.
The style of the finished illustration was to be a very heavy and ‘dirty’ inked piece. To be clear you can often see in older books a style of illustration that has been printed and re-printed many times. The original art having long been lost the illustration would be printed again from a previous printing and detail would become muddied and heavy. Eventually after many years the re-printing of an illustration not from the original source would look very different from that original. Lines that where once clear and thin would have vanished or become joined together and detail would be lost. My plan was to ink the final illustration with a brush using heavy dark blacks and also lighter tones. Then once I scanned it in I would force the file to become a single colour, a monochrome, and the detailing found in the tonal work of the illustration would either darken up to solid black or disappear entirely just like the loss of detail suffered by those old illustrations being re-printed.
The tightened rough was approved and I worked up the final pencils before inking the piece. You’ll see from the example below how the washed tonal illustration was forced to become monochrome and how the detailing took on its own distinct re-printed look, as if the illustration was a lot older than it looked.
The new whisky was released by the Meadowside Blending Co just a few weeks ago and apparently the first batch has already sold out, a great success for the company and for Black Square. All the wonderful photography shots of the final bottle are by Black Square and it really does look splendid.