Monday, May 30, 2011

IF "asleep"

This week's illustration friday word is "asleep". It was extremely hard for me to chose one single image to use for this because nearly every book I have ever done has the main character fall asleep somewhere in the book. Kind of makes me want to write  a book where the main characters special ability is that they never have to sleep. I have often wondered what it would be like if our bodies didn't need rest and we could just keep going for days without sleep and without feeling tiered. Anyway, for IF I chose to use a drawing from the book I am currently working on "Allegra Friend of All Monsters"

I thought it would be neat to post my other characters sleeping as well. I had no idea how many sleeping characters I actually had until doing this. These are all from different books and I may have even more I wasn't able to find.
                                              "Samantha and the Box Turtle" Coming out this year

                                             "The Caterpillar and the Express Train" available on Amazon

"The Litlle Boy Without a Name and Without a Birthday" coming out this year
"Spirit Driver"

"Rudy Reporting for Duty" My first Book!

"Clara and the One Eyed Sand Hog" My second Book!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Monsterous color sample Disaster (with a happy ending) : How I make Color Samples for my Children's Books

I started the color sample stage of my new book a couple of weeks ago and expected to be working on the final art by now. Working with new clients always has  surprises, good and difficult ones. This book was moving along quit fast until we hit the color stage. Till this point I've had the entire color scheme in my head and briefly mentioned my rough ideas to the client a couple of times which he seemed to like. I guess I'm really not great at verbal/written communication though because the first set of color samples were apparently nothing like what he expected. I wanted an overall cool temperature color scheme since the book takes place at night and I wanted to have the warm glow from the lamp as a subordinate color that would dance around the room and light up the cooler objects. That tends to be my style in any image I can work that sort of thing into.

     So I worked on the first six samples for image one just laying in rough colors. They looked awkward with the watercolors painted on printing paper so I went over the colors in photoshop. I hadn't even considered that this now made them all more saturated than what I intended.

The client hated them and felt they clashed and in turn suggested I use very light pinks and an almost white yellow for the walls. So I did samples 7-11 above with the bed blanket sample for referecne. No matter how I tried to explain the whole idea of the nighttime cool colors and warm glow of the lamp I just couldn't get him to see my vision which I had been developing in my head for this book since the first time I read the manuscript oct.29th of 2010.

He kept wanting things lighter and more girly. So for another image I tried the lighter colors knowing this was getting really pastel colored and far from my normal color inclinations.

At this point I began thinking he may be having more problems with the rough quality of the samples than the actual colors. So I sent him some samples from my last book showing the color samples next to the finished art.
I also showed him some finished artwork from other artists along the same lines of what I was envisioning. SO at this point we both agreed that the pastels weren't quit right and I think the finished art of other artists helped to communicate what I intended with my crude color samples. Now I just needed to figure out how to get from our current state of limbo into some colors that would accurately represent what I mean without actually going full scale into the final artwork. Then I got the idea to find reference photos online of rooms painted in various colors. i then cropped portions of the walls and stretched and fitted them to the samples in photoshop.

I feel this gave us samples that weren't too saturated, too light or too dark. The problem is that by the end of it I felt they were essentially the  same color schemes I originally intended so I wasn't sure after all of this work if the client would be Any happier with these. HE WAS !!! SWEET!  He chose 13 and 14 as the room gets lighter towards the end of the book when the sun starts to rise.

Now the situation wasn't completely resolved as I still had to show color samples for other objects in the room like the bed headboard, floor, blanket, lamp, night stand and rocking chair which are key features for part of the book. So I spent two more days working on the color samples below. This is a crazy amount of work to do for mere color samples but I was happy with how fast the drawing stage went and felt it will make the rest of the color samples much easier once we have one image done in more accurate colors to show the main elements. He's seen these and loves them and we are now trying to decide on our favorite or favorite combo. All of that work can only lead to a better final product int he long run!

A brief explanation of my color sample process for the art folk who may visit. Generally I try to use cheap papers where ever possible because at this time in my career I'm not all that worried about having color samples survive after I'm dead. So for acrylic or oils I have some thick paper I got from my grandpa seven years ago that works great for this purpose. For watercolor I use printing paper which is horrible for watercolors but gets  a rough idea of color.  I start by printing the final drawings onto the paper generally two spreads on each 8x10 sheet.
           In general I think it's a good idea to keep color samples extremely rough when working on a whole book and only get detailed if your working on one image. However I tend to personally feel like I'm going to lose clients unless I show them a bit of detail so i tend to get carried away. Probably comes from my first book in which the clients actually tried hard to have someone else add color to my drawings once they saw my rough color samples,LOL.
      I generally put some acrylic gloss medium on the paper to keep the paints from sinking in too much. Then you basically just go to town filling in rough colors trying to show main light source and colors of main objects. With acrylics and oil samples (and sometimes watercolor) I'm, able to spend about a half hour to an hour for the first sample for a single image. Then I scan that into the comp. and I paint different colors on top of the same sample, scan and repeat till I've exhausted my ideas.
     Then I almost always do even more samples once in photoshop. I play with the color sliders and contrast etc. to get all kinds of things I may not have come to on my own. I generally end up with around ten samples for each image in the book but I've had as many as 40 samples for one image before if you can believe it. Color seems to be that one area that clients aren't afraid to keep asking for more and more and more no matter how little they are paying. I never quit understood that but I'm constantly learning and know that this is the main area of my art that I still need to figure out away to streamline. After all we all know that the best part is the final art! FOr children's books the best part is seeing the final art in print : )