Fine Homebuilding 254, November 2015
- Executive Art Director: Robert Goodfellow
- Deputy Art Director: Rodney Diaz
Yes Martha, its Made of Rocks!
I created these illustrations for an article about the manufacturing and use of Mineral Wool insulation. The process starts with melting the rocks in a furnace and pouring the molten lava on the spinning cylinders of the centrifuge. This part of the operation works much like a cotton candy machine. Interestingly, I found the best reference through the web on a “How its Made” factory video. Of course the factories that make this stuff are enormous and I was forced to scale things down to clarify the process.
Rough Sketches Start the Illustration Process
My usual method is to start by making rough sketches. I don’t render these with any degree of polish which would only get in the way of the revision process. Besides being unnecessary, people are reluctant to make suggestions for revisions if they think the work is almost done. Above is my first rough sketch. I used this to clarify the individual stages of the process and to kick start the discussion with the art director on what to show and what not to show. We were also exploring how everything would fit into the page design.
Below is a more developed sketch. After doing additional research I made a number of changes to the manufacturing equipment. In a drawing like this its impractical to be completely realistic so I focused on conveying the function of each piece of equipment. To use as much of the space as we could, we decided to extend the illustration vertically by bleeding the furnace off the top of the page. This is actually how these factories are set up, with the furnace on the upper floors. The real centrifuge is actually smaller than shown. Since this is at the heart of the story I scaled it larger to show how it works. Considering the size of the illustration this was about as far as I could go with sizing the elements before they would become incomprehensible.
News: Collaboration with Art Direction Pays Off
I created four additional illustrations to be used on another spread that show the applications for the use of Mineral wool in home building. My illustration problem was how to vignette the fully rendered wall sections to the black page. On a white page simply fading the drawings at their edges works fine, but looks dreadful on black. The solution was to create a graphic white line drawing using an architectural style. I used this to vignette the drawings and it also helped to create stylistic unity to the factory drawing. I used Adobe Illustrator to build the white line work and placed this in Photoshop where I painted in the realistic colored parts seen in the circles. I worked closely with art director Rodney Diaz to design the illustrations and properly position and scale them to fit the page.
I provided a single high resolution Photoshop psd file with a transparent background so that it could be placed with accuracy and adjustments to the background color could be made in their pre-press process. Rodney built and photographed the cute house made from Mineral wool boards. While the illustrations play a secondary role, I was very gratified to participate in this project. Art Director Rodney Diaz created an elegant design solution to a challenging project.