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Natural wine cover sketch for Sacramento Magazine
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Illustrating the cover of Sacramento Magazine

I always get excited when I hear the ping of an email notification and see that it's from Sacramento Magazine's Art Director, Gabriel Teague. 

Illustrating for the magazine was slightly different this time around, as I was being asked to take on the cover, an opening spread and multiple portraits in a fairly short time frame. But of course, I happily agreed. This was my first time illustrating a magazine cover and I was both incredibly nervous and excited. 

Gabriel’s concept for this issue’s cover illustration about the natural wine movement was to reveal a quintessential Sacramento landscape through a wine bottle silhouette in grapevines. I thought this was a unique idea and immediately began brainstorming ideas and researching images to draw from. 


After reading through some detailed notes and ideas from Gabriel, I got started on the sketches. I do most of my illustrations on Procreate, and decided to use pen for the line work and watercolor brushes to add color. The overall goal was to portray the essence of the natural wine movement with a detailed, yet organic illustrations.


The whole process, from creating multiple initial sketches to adding the finishing touches, lead us to a very engaging final composition. We went with muted colors to stick with the "natural" look, and even muted the landscape significantly to make the bottle silhouette more pronounced. I also used the river rock to further outline the bottom of the bottle.


For the opening spread, we took the same theme and altered it slightly. I went through many iterations of vines creeping up the center bottle, and we ultimately went with the simplest version. 

In the end, I'm very happy with the way all of these illustrations turned out. I wouldn't have been able to find my way through so many grape leaves if I didn't have such an amazing art director.  


You would think after drawing grape leaves for two weeks straight that I would never want to see another grape vine ever again, but I impulsively purchased my own small grape vine recently. It is now slowly wilting in my backyard. I also intend to pick up a bottle of “natty” wine the first chance I get.

Timelapse video of initial ideas and sketch using Procreate. 

One of the last sketches of before I got started on the final cover. 

Opening Spread

Natural wine Sac Mag Cover Spread Illust
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