final drawing and color samples
Final internal graphite illustrations
This is the final post in a series of blog posts describing and showing my process for creating the cover and internal illustrations for my newest teen chapter book, "The Silver Shuttle" by Jennifer Fell Hayes. The book has been available on Amazon for about a month now and I finally got to see some copies of the book in person. I'm sooooo happy with the final product!
The book is about a teen girl who gets news that her parents bought a new home for her to come home to on summer break. In the process of discovering all of the secrets and hidden history the old house has to reveal, she is caught up in an adventure in which the world around her depends on her bravery and persistence to avoid losing all that is good to the powers of darkness. She is set on a task to retrieve various objects and return them to their rightful owners, the bearers of light. In the course of this task she learns all about various abbeys throughout England and is caught up in various historical events jumping in and out of her own time. She is faced with immense challenges and foes that would make even the fiercest of heroes weak with fright. The powers of light enable her to hold strong in the face of it all.
I think a part of why I enjoyed illustrating this book so much is because I really enjoyed the story and feel the author does an amazing job of painting the scenes for us. Really the illustrations only work as a backdrop to the authors magnificent story telling ability.
It's rare for me to have the opportunity to paint and draw such engaging and action packed subjects and to actually have a large amount of time devoted to one image. I enjoyed all of my projects but this one was particularly challenging and I was also given much more freedom in the process than is typical. The author and publisher basically loved everything I sent them and I had to keep pushing myself to the next level with each step, improving on the dog, improving on the birds and the girl and really pushing myself to do my best. Of course I had the benefit of their opinions and ideas as well, but it was more respectful than I sometimes encounter.
Sometimes clients push a bit too much as they are trying to get me to illustrate exactly what they perceive to be in their own minds eye (which of course evolves as i try to capture it), that can sometimes stifle my voice as an artist and can be frustrating if they in fact are unable to describe or show what they are talking about. Understand it's not that I feel smarter or more creative than my clients but I do at least spend hours and hours sitting and thinking over various options for an image and looking at hundreds of photo references. I know my work process and capabilities and can picture what my own idea might look like in the final art. Whereas a client might spend all day working at their normal job, come home sit in front of their computer think of an idea immediately and think it's the coolest thing since the invention of Doritos just because they thought of it. I've learned over the years that generally a "first" idea is overused and stereotypical. It can take an extra ten or so hours of work just doing revision after revision trying to make it look like what they have in mind. They don't want me to be an artist, they just want me to act as a sort of printer, printing out the contents of their own mind onto canvas.