Monday, February 20, 2012

Cobblestone Magazine : Two

Click on the link below to see a previous post I did for this series of illustrations for Cobblestone Magazine. In that post I showed my final sketches and final art and talked about my research process.

I was just about to get back to work today after lunch when I saw the UPS truck coming up the driveway. I wasn't expecting anything so didn't get my hopes up. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was a couple of complimentary copies of the issue of "Cobbleston Magazine" that I had done three illustrations for. SOooooooo Excited as I thought I would have to order my own copies.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Teen Chapter Book Cover Design: Seven

Thumbnail sketches
rough sketch
revised dog
final drawing and color samples
final illustration
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.

       In the end I usually love the final art with every client I've worked for because I do my best to have a give and take relationship with the client hoping for an end result we will both love, as well as all those who view the work. No matter what the idea is, i will try to do my best to illustrate it and make the end result look cool. They are paying for the art so if they are particularly persistent on a point I don't agree with, I will indeed let them have final say (providing it's not immoral or indecent of course). Many of my clients have fantastic ideas and do an excellent job of voicing their opinions and ideas in a way i can interpret and create. In the case of this book, I was simply overjoyed with the process and couldn't be happier with the final result. I hope to one day work with this author again!

    I showed pretty much everything for my process work on this cover illustration except for the stages of my final illustration. So that is shown below. I started off with the final drawing printed onto a heavy duty illustration paper and coated with a few layers of acrylic clear medium to protect the drawing from smudging from the paint. I then did a quick acrylic under layer to cover all of the white with paint. In this case i left the lightest areas of the image untouched, the face in particular so i wouldn't lose the tiny detail lines. Then I put more accurate colors filling in all the various areas working all over the canvas striving for color Harmony.

In many cases i would pre-mix colors in batches and then use colors from the sky mixed with other colors to make the sand or rocks. This helps to lock everything together rather than grabbing for fresh tube colors with each element int he image. In general I would work from background to foreground, dark to light, larger masses to smaller masses getting more and more detailed as I go. The only way to have consistent rounded circular pattern int eh sky was to paint over the birds and redraw them with the brush. The tape in step three across the horizon is there to create a straight edge along the water line.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

"A Cloudy Day" : Part Three

So this is a book I've been working on for the past four months or so. In my last post I expected to have the illustrations practically done in two more weeks. I sent the client all of the images as they were at that time. They all had skies colored as in the image below.
The client didn't like the skies. So I spent the past couple of weeks repainting the skies throughout the whole book. The color sample stage is designed specifically to avoid going through this sort of thing. But it doesn't always work that way.
Two weeks later and I do now have approval on the images so far. Lot's more to do but I can now see the end in sight. I've now started work on my next children's book "Pigs under the Post Office" and will soon be starting work on my second chapter book in the "Samantha" series with Daisy Griffin. YEah!!!!! I should also finally be finishing off the BBQ logo this month.  With a bunch of other potential projects floating on the horizon.