Photoshop Digital Illustration: The Rabbit and the Frog


a blast from the past

By Robert Conway

Well what can I say about this one? I may have been partying up a wee bit when I came up with this one in the year 2000. And of course if you read my posts you know that this thing took an insane amount of time to finish. This was just an experimental promo piece for when I thought it would be a cool thing to be a children’s book illustrator a plan in which I kind of grew out of when I started painting which I just find a much more enjoyable process. The subject matter of this piece is all up in the air, I never could think up a good enough story to match the artwork, now matter how long I thought about it the big idea never came, so there is no hidden meaning or anything just fill in the blanks yourself. Anyhow, I adapted this new illustration style right at the turn of the century when I got a digital camera and started to become preoccupied with gathering a library of digital textures to use in my artwork. So every where I went I would be photographing rocks, grass, cement anything I found interesting and as I have mentioned before I would make regular visits to New York’s American Museum of Natural History the texture capitol of the world.

With all the stuff going on in this composition I was left with a huge layered photoshop file and using a 1997 era Apple computer did not exactly speed up the process so lets put it this way every time I would hit save I would have to go and take a walk around the block. Also I topped out on my maximum number of for layers in a photoshop file even though I did a lot of layer merging to cut down file size when I made the last layer it was layer #360 so I knew right about there it was time to call it quits and go start working on something else. Hope you all enjoy.

March 7, 2014


25 thoughts on “Photoshop Digital Illustration: The Rabbit and the Frog

    • ha thank so much, I am very fond of this one, this is the most trippy thing I have ever come up with. and growing up as a little kid in the sixties I always thought that trippy was the highest accomplishment.

  1. Someday I would like to learn make stuff this quality digital. Right now all I have is black rollerball pen, paper, scan and color on gimp. For simple cartoons seems that’s all I need anyway at my age.

    • you know they have this cool paint program on the ipad called Procreate that I have been dying to check out, it is only six bucks and you can buy it on itunes. you can make really cool stuff with just your finger, sounds like fun and I don’t think it is too complicated to learn. nice to hear from you Carl.

  2. The frog really catches my eye followed by how textured this piece is. My eye keeps being drawn to the long grass/moss.
    I think this is wonderful and really fun!
    I’ve not experimented much with digital art, I figure get to grips with paint and pencil first.
    Your work here though does leave me curious about the possibilities.

    • thank you. I was very fortunate in that when Photoshop first came out that I had a friend at work that was exceptionally gifted in understanding the ways of the Macintosh and digital arts and he mentored me.

  3. This delighted me – and made me shiver, too. Maxing out the Photoshop layers! Eeek. I wonder how you’d work if you had an actual story to illustrate. Do you not do thumbnails? Sketches? THREE HUNDred and sixty layers. ha.

    • this is why if I had to illustrate a whole story I would have to think of a different way to do it. a lot of what held me up was that I did not have it sketched out so it was just endless experimentation, just moving things around, now I know better. I am glad that I discovered painting soon after this because it just would not of been feasible to do a whole book in this way.

  4. All I can say is WOW!!!! 360 layers??? WOW!!! It’s an awesome illustration! I just can’t even fathom that many layers Robert!

    • well I merged a lot of the layers together to save space, so at the end when I went to new layer it gave me the number 360 so in all I must of made 359 layers but like I said I merged a lot of these together. it was just an endless illustration.

  5. Well, to call it amazing would be putting it mildly. Wish i could make friends with my own Photoshop program. I dabble but haven’t been able to crack that code to put me on top of things yet. I want to learn how to import more than one photo to overlay. All in good time. Wow! Over 300 layers! I can definitely see it though. Beautiful!

    • thank you so much, I really needed a complement today I am having a horrible day at work and you made it better. yes go for it in photoshop, when I first started it it was extremely intimidating but don’t worry about it just chip away. you know I have been using photoshop just about all day everyday at work and doing freelance stuff since the late eighties and the truth is there are stiff a lot of features in the program that I have no idea what they do. so don’t worry about all the vast things in photoshop other people do, just find a few things in it that appeal to you and go from there.

      • thanks. I needed to hear that as well. I agreed to do a book design for a friend’s new work and although I am good with photography and art, I feel she wants some graphics involved even though I am not sure the design needs it. This is my first time to do something like this and I want it to look good and please her as well as attract readers. Ahh well, it is all a learning process. Thanks for the advice. I appreciate it and good luck with your work!

  6. Rob, this may have taken an insane amount of time to complete but is by far one of the best photo shop creations I have seen. What platform are you designing on? If I ever needed a book cover I’d definitely commission you.

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