Monday, October 31, 2011

He Looks just like YOU!

Whenever I have a spare moment I enjoy looking through other artists blogs and seeing all of their work,  process and studies. Recently I realized that some of my favorite blogs do nothing more than just post some of their finished artwork with a simple title and maybe a short description for what inspired the piece. I then realized I very rarely post finished art on my blog or atleast none of my newer stuff. I've done a bunch of finished book covers recently that I posted but have left out so much of my other art. So now I'm going to start posting some finished artwork every now and then for those who never have the chance to make it to my actual website. You can allways view more there

    This first one is from the book "The Little Boy Without a Name and Without a Birthday". I recently posted this image on my artwanted page and got a comment that it looks like a norman Rockwell! LOL, Yeah, maybe when he was ten and just starting to paint! But he was deffinetly one of my first inspirations, so it was fun to be compared to him.
          I also keep hearing that the little boy looks like he was modled after myself, BWAHAHAHAHA. Seriously had about five different people say that. I never wear red, don't have red hair, I'm 27 with thinning hair. But I do have glasses and messy hair and used to be extremely skinny and I used to have blue shoes, so I can see where they are coming from.
         I find it quit interesting that the author of the book actually has people telling him that the little boy looks like him (he wears glasses too). The funny thing is that I have often felt a character looks like me a bit but in those instances I spend hours trying to resolve the issue,haha. I'm thinking of one character in particular for my "Samantha Loses the Box Turtle" book where no matter how much I changed the character, I kept feeling like it looked like me. I have  a feeling this is a somewhat common thing amongst artists, as I have noticed it in other artists work. Sometimes it's because we use photoreferences of ourselves as a starting point but mostly I think it's simply because we are our own most familiar face. Some of us even dare look at ourselves in the mirror every day!
      As artists, the way we draw is to observe nature and try to mimic it in some feeble way, even when we're drawing something imaginairy like a monster or a talking train or unicorn, dragon etc. we are allways going to rely on our minds reference library taken directly form nature itself. I've allways wondered how a person blind since birth might go about the task of drawing various things, if overnight they were given the ability to see, to draw extremely well and weren't alowed to leave the room or look at other artists work. I think in a way that's a bit of a conundrum as I can't imagine an artist being able to draw well, if they don't have some sort of knowledge base for what exists in the world. You can't draw a cat if you've never seen one and you can't make a dragon look like a dragon if you don't share a common understanding of the various things that make it a dragon. However I do know that there are a wide range of possible ways to draw any given creature and still have it remain recognizable. Will Terry has an excellent video about how to design characters on his folio academy website which illustrates this point perfectly. Regardless, every artist has to start with something. We don't create out of nothing. God is the only artist in all of human history who has ever created out of nothing. Many artists draw images from their head, but their head is filled with everything they've ever seen in life and observed in nature. We don't create in a  box no matter how talented we may be. I think even Feank Frazetta would have to attest to that if pushed far enough.

Friday, October 28, 2011

IF: Scary

I haven't posted on Illustration Friday for a while so I'm overdue. I'm actually working on an image at the moment that illustrates the word!!! Particularly surprising since the word is "SCARY".

I was at the local archery shop the other day and the owner asked me what I do for a living to which I replied I'm a children's book illustrator. My friend happened to mention my recent blog post about the BBQ company logo I'm working on. I then explained that I may be getting a bit of BBQ product from that client and said we should hold another cookout and say that we shot the pigs ourselves with our bows. Of  course the shop owner just happened to have a pig skull on the wall from a pig he had shot,LOL. He was a bit confused when I started showing interest in the skull as a reference for one of my current projects. HE asked, "wait, didn't you say you were a children's book illustrator?"

      The funny thing is that the pig skull actually would have been a great reference for one of my current books as I needed to design a crazy, scary looking dog. As I've done almost no work of this sort, I don't have a reference library for random animal skulls, animal muscle anatomy to exaggerate the ferociousness of the creature etc. Luckily I did have some great art website resources available to me that helped a ton. The birds in the sample above still need a lot of work but the dog has already undergone quit a transformation and still has a bit left to go.
The first one was drawn mostly from my head as an initial impression using mainly wolves as a reference.The second one actually was never intended to look like the taco bell dog but somehow references of dog skeletons, wolves, panthers, lions etc. lead to that puny little woof. The third one I feel finally hits the nail on the head.  

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

BBQ Logo Design: One

Along with my new chapter book, I've also been working on a new logo design and a new children's book. The company needing the new logo is "The Bottomless Pit Bar-B-Q". We started with their current logo which is actually a stock illustration and their current t-shirt design which was done by a friend of theirs.

With these images as a starting point, they told me they wanted one image to serve both the needs of the t-shirt, the business cards AND for printed lables to put on their products. They also wanted the main character to be a mixture of pig and man standing at a grill. So i set to work finding reference photos of pigs and hefty men and got the bunch of rough samples below.

From these, so far they like number six for the face but I'm guessing we'll want to put  a bigger body/belly on him as they want the name of their business actually written acrross his apron. They're also planning to send some photos of the actual grill they use to try some samples with that. I'm guessing it looks something like that T-shirt drawing above. A bit boxy and angular but I think I can make it work without it looking too much like a coffin. Personally I was kind of leaning more towards number one or seven but was getting a bit worried that these may be too detailed for a small business card. So I made  aquick sample and printed it off. Looks good even at the small size.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Teen Chapter Book Cover Design:Two

For part one of this cover design: Part One
Been drawing a lot of flying creatures and tons of photoshop work trying to figure out the composition for my new book coveer. I think things are getting much closer! This is still a rough draft as I have to completely redraw her face and put in lots more detail for the creatures. probably going to work on color samples a bit today.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Teen Chapter Book Cover Design

Finally getting in some serious time on my new projects so I'll be posting sketches from a couple different projects over the next few weeks. For now just taking a moment to post some very rough preliminary sketches for my new chapter book cover design. The book is "The Silver Shuttle" by Jennifer Hayes".
This is really only the second book I've done for this reading level and is going to be a ton of fun! For this book I have the opportunity to do three very detailed shaded graphite renderings of action packed scenes and one cover illustration which I hope to do in oil if time allows. The only catch is that I have two other in depth projects going on at the same time and only have about three weeks left to work on this chapter book, YIKES! Back to work.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Samantha Loses The Box Turtle Cover Design:Part Two

For part one, in which I show the initial steps for designing this cover, click HERE
    In the first post on this cover I showed some of my thumbnail sketches and rough draft sketches. This first image below shows where that last post left off, with the rough drawing on the left. On the right I've included a revised drawing which fixes the facial features and removes the globe in the background while tightening up other aspects of the image.

Then i did some quick color samples with about four different color schemes for the background illustration. We initially decided on the option below with a dominantly cool temperature color scheme, purples and blues. I threw in some initial rough text ideas but we eventually decided we needed the cover to be  a bit more friendly to boys.
So from there the client liked warmer colors in the background illustration and it was a matter of trying to find a new color for the surrounding cover layout.

Throughout the whole process I sketched ideas for the title font, which we intended to be hand drawn. A lot of this felt repetetive but quit necesary. I was trying to invent my own font and wanted to get things to feel right for this particular book while also having the letters themeselves work together as a unit. It's not as easy as typing the words into photoshop and trying a bunch of different fonts in a matter of minutes. I have no training in graphhic design or text design but often enjoy trying my hand at it. With this book I was a bit frustrated because I had to create a text that would work for all the books in this series of "Samantha" books. SO I kept having ideas for the text that woudl fit this particular book but wouldn't work for the whole series. I also still have no idea what animals are in the rest of the series.

I did also try some computer fonts and actually started to like a couple of them but the client was drawn to an earlier hand drawn option.
                                              So for our final font we agreed upon the one below.
I then took this basic font and tried various shading and colors on the font itself and paired those with our chosen color sample and cover layout color. This gave us a really good idea of what the final cover would look like.

Now the final watercolor painting. Some of these pics are taken in low light and the final product was scanned and further tweaked in photoshop.
The final product is now available on Amazon for the kindle and other e-readers. Just click the link on the left side of my blog!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Free!!! My Brand New E-Book

Facebook friends please be aware this is an Rss feed from my blog and mostly just repeats info I've shared on Facebook previously. I think this will be about the fourth time this book cover has shown up on my profile in the past week,LOL.

I wanted to let everyone know that my brand New E-Book "Samantha Loses The Box Turtle" is now available AND it's FREE!!!!  check out that link for details on how to get the book free on smashwords. for a limited time anyway.

        First I just really want to say I enjoyed working with this client every step of the way and she's a super generous woman with her time and seems to be the greatest mom. So Personally I would love to see a bunch of folks go out and pay the $3.99 for the book just to help her along a bit. We worked on the book over the past seven months and I really do think you won't regret it, as your kids will enjoy it. YET, she is the one telling me I should alert folks about this coupon to get the book for free so please don't feel bad about doing so. Tell all your friends. If your an artist, friend or family member, get the book to see my new artwork for my first ever chapter book. If you're a parent get the book for your kids or for grand kids etc. You can't do any better than free.
      It's available for kindle, Nook, PDF etc. so if you have any of the popular e-readers then you already know how it all works. If you don't have an e-reader then head on over to Amazon and download there free "Kindle for the PC". Go onto the page for any e-book and there is a link to download this free software for your computer. Or just get the PDF version of the book if you already have adobe reader downloaded. It's all pretty simple and straightforward but let me know if you have any questions.

    The author and I both would LOVE any and all reviews of the book you could share on amazon or elsewhere you find the book listed, Barnes and Nobles etc. Feel free to leave comments on this blog as well and I'll be sure the author is aware of them. Amazon is most helpful as it lets folks know if the book is any good if they are thinking about purchasing it. Thanks and enjoy!