Beauty is a Black Hole (video tutorial)

I’ve released my first ever FEATURE LENGTH video tutorial! It’s a 2 HOUR, real-time walk-through of my creation of the illustration Beauty is a Black Hole, a dark and doomy record cover.

I share the intimate details of my illustration and design process in his two hour video tutorial “Wacom Illustration Techniques”. You’ll learn the process for manipulation and compilation of photos for reference, secrets of illustration with a Wacom tablet, and techniques for adding color and texture to finalize the piece.

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the final artwork

Photo manipulation

  • Setting up document
  • Finding reference photos
  • Combining references photos into cohesive composite reference.
  • Aligning the anatomy of a reference skull to a stock photo.
  • Using layer masks to clean up composite reference.

progress shot


Ideal brush settings for use with a Wacom.
Drawing the skull

  • Roughing in main outlines.
  • Adding illustrated hash lines and stipple dots to suggest shading.
  • Knowing the difference between anatomy & illustration.
  • See the entire skull drawn in real time.
  • Drawing more realistic teeth.
  • Interpreting detail from the dull areas of the reference photo.
  • Adding texture with illustration techniques.

progress shot

Drawing hair

  • Creating your own style from insufficient reference material.
  • “Chunking” areas of hair to frame the flow.
  • Subdividing the chunks to fill in the hair.
  • Controlling line density to suggest light & dark areas.
  • Drawing hair like a twisting tube.
  • Getting in the zone with the lines.

Beauty is a Black Hole detail shot

Adding type, texture, & color

Adding fill and texture

  • Filling the linework with a background color.
  • Adding “noise” with texture.
  • Blending in the artwork to the background with layer masks.
  • Creating noise textures with the “guess & check” method.
  • Adding positive & negative noise to the foreground & background to add cohesion.

progress shot

Adding type

  • Combining faces, weights, sizes & kerning for perfect type treatment.
  • Using Photoshop’s align & distribute functions.
  • Simulating ink bleed on the type.

Adding color

  • Experimenting with textures & layer blending modes.
  • Applying the global vintage color treatment.
  • Spot blurring to add visual interest.
  • Adding grain & sharpness with the high pass filter.

Beauty is a Black Hole detail shot

2 hour video tutorial from Jeff Finley

Purchase Video Tutorial

Art Print now available:

Beauty is a Black Hole by Go Media
Beauty is a Black Hole by Go Media

15 Comments Short URL ,

15 Responses to “Beauty is a Black Hole (video tutorial)”

  1. David Behm April 7, 2010 at 12:40 pm #

    I purchased it and think its great!!
    I hope you decide to do more of these. I now need to get more practice with the tablet!

  2. Simon H. April 22, 2010 at 3:09 pm #

    I already told you, but this looks really interesting. Even if I’m not a tablet user (yet?), the whole texturing thing interests me deeply.

    I tried to find infos over the interwebs about that “guess and check” method of yours, but didn’t find anything else than your stuff :-)

  3. johnny. May 6, 2010 at 10:19 am #

    cant get the coupon to work??

  4. johnny. May 6, 2010 at 3:37 pm #

    paid the full price any way to get the coupon still?

  5. Kim Finley May 14, 2010 at 4:59 pm #

    sorry, this post should be updated. the coupon code was only valid until the end of April.

  6. Cole June 3, 2010 at 10:58 am #

    Really great work Jeff…I love this piece. I started a new feature on my blog featuring design inspirations and this was the first. You can check it out on my blog @

  7. Brandon July 27, 2010 at 5:24 pm #

    Pretty incredible work Jeff – I’ll definitely be picking up the tutorial later this week. Can’t wait to see you in action!

  8. Brandon August 20, 2010 at 2:40 pm #

    Hey Jeff, I love this tutorial, helped me jump into a style that I wasn’t really familiar with. Here is what I came up with from the techniques I learned from you,

  9. Childmonster September 7, 2010 at 1:38 am #

    I really like this tutorial. Like the final

  10. london transfer February 18, 2011 at 11:48 am #

    i never thought this was originally a real picture taken..

  11. inspirationfeed May 25, 2011 at 1:07 pm #

    Stunning work, you have incredible talent!

  12. basam October 8, 2011 at 4:35 am #

    Hi there, is it just a download or a real physical DVD?

  13. Jeff Finley October 10, 2011 at 10:22 am #

    This is a download only. No DVD.

  14. basam October 11, 2011 at 2:27 am #

    thanks for the swift reply.
    any special holiday coupon in the near future?


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    […] be sure to check out his great illustration tutorial over at his personal […]

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