Different versions of one illustration

I've blogged before about the editing process that an illustration can go through from start to finish, and I wanted to post about another example of it today.

I recently did an illustration for The New York Times, which I thought was going to be a simple, straight-forward breeze of a job when I first started sketches for it.

The story was about a woman who decided to leave the path toward studying medicine to practice Jainism.  A big part of the religion itself is to simplify life to it's purest form; owning very little possessions, (a shawl to meditate in, a bowl to eat from, and a broom to sweep away other living things from your path, so that you don't kill any living thing).  I figured this would be a great chance to keep an illustration simple and clean, so I chose to illustrate a draped robe with just a hint of a foot showing, a bowl and broom.  Keeping this illustration simple proved to be far harder that I'd thought.

Above is the first version I came up with, but it needed a bit more contrast and warmth in the bit of foot showing.

After adjusting the tone of the foot, it was apparent that the rest of the body wasn't very visible underneath all of the fabric, so I got to work adding more of the foot within the frame.

Even after adding a full foot in to the painting, the broom was distracting and it was still tough to see form of a body underneath the folds of fabric, so I added the other foot to the composition.

This is the final version of the illustration with both feet and no more broom to distract from or cover up the rest of the body.  

This illustration definitely ended up being more of a challenge that I'd initially thought, but after some serious revisions, I'm really happy with the finished illustration, (and that new foot is my favourite part!).

When I was a student and newly starting out, I had romantic ideas about trying to keep things as traditional as possible with my work.  I worked in watercolour and oils, rejected digital illustration, and even thought I could get by with minimal use of the computer to edit finished artwork.  Over time, I've accepted it as a pretty helpful tool, especially when tight deadlines are looming.  I'm able to paint a new section of painting and add it fairly seamlessly to an existing piece.  That's a pretty helpful and exciting thing.