Saturday, June 22, 2013

Illustration Friday: Surveillance



The above image is a Painter 12 pen-and-ink redo of an illustration I have done two versions of before.  I think it fits this week's Illustration Friday topic well.

The previous incarnations were to be sample cover designs for the portfolio, however, neither is up to that standard.  The scene is based on image I have in my head for an early middle grade work in progress.  (This particular scene, which would occur near the end, has yet to be written.)  As you can see, I was exploring (somewhat clumsily) with different media:


I did this first, rather heavy-handed, job using pen-and-ink, watercolor, and colored pencil on Arches hot press paper.  I (inexpertly) touched up the image in Photoshop, then did the (very amateurish) layout also in Photoshop.  

I have gotten bit better with Photoshop since then.  I think that shows a little better in my next stab at the cover:


Here I was going for a scratchboard effect.  I did a pencil sketch, scanned it in, then inverted the black and white. I used the eraser tool to scrape away the black, then added the color to a background layer.  I like the boldness of this style, but the characters need more expressiveness.  The layout is still limited by my inexperience with certain features in Photoshop.  I am hard at work on my InDesign skills, however, so that should be moot point soon.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Our Dad's Watches and Father's Day Memories


A few months ago I received a request from a new business to do a very specific illustration: a boy seated on his dad's lap and hearing the ticking of a watch for the first time.  I suppose I might have turned down a commission to do something that had to match a client's mental image so exactly, but this challenge resonated well with the general direction of my illustration work.  I took the project on, and I'm very happy that I did.

Business owner August Monteleone wrote a very nice blog post about the illustration and the story behind the image he commissioned.  You can read it here: http://dadswatch.blogspot.com/2013/06/fantastic-new-logo-and-other-happenings.html. Augie was a pleasure to work for. I got a strong sense of this being a man who cares deeply about what he does. (I expect that if you have a classic watch in need of restoration, or are interested in purchasing a timepiece as a gift for someone special, Our Dads Watches would serve you extremely well.)

I knew I needed to take special care as I was illustrating a memory for a man with great love for his father. I was surprised at how meaningful the work became for me too. I  used a batch of photos from a Google image search for sketching practice and working out the posing of the figures.  But then I needed to better visual references to nail the details of the watch and the shoes at specific angles.  I used the actual 3-D objects: my own dad's watch and shoes.  I drew the preliminary sketches in pencil, emailing scans to the client for feedback. I then revised the pencil sketches and emailed scans for approval. I finished the inking and coloring of the approved composition in Corel Painter 12.  As I worked, I felt a rush of warm memories of early years with my father and the little life lessons that slipped out in relaxed moments in the living room after he returned from work. 

Last Sunday, Father's Day, months after completing the Our Dads Watches project, my mind drifted back to working on this illustration and the warm feelings it engendered.  



Thank you so much, Augie!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Illustration Friday: Sweet



For this week's Illustration Friday: a kid in a candy shop. (Click on the image to enlarge and to view with clearer definition.)

How I made this picture:

As usual, I started with a Dick Blick sketchbook and my trusty Dixon Ticonderoga #2 pencil:


I scanned the sketch at 300 dpi, partly to make it suitable for printing (you know, just in case I want to put the final in a hard copy portfolio) and partly to have better refinement options when I zoom in close.  The final at the top of this post is saved at t lower resolution for the sake of speedier loading.  

I inked the image in Painter 12 using the crowquil and real variable width pens in a variety of sizes.  I chose plain old "black" from the color palette.  I also do a lot of drawing--or undrawing--with the eraser tool.  My comfort with this combination of tools has increased a lot over the past couple of months.  I may try to stretch my skills with some new inking tools next Friday.

For a little something different this week, and to highlight the sweets (and the obnoxious food dyes that will probably give this kid attention deficit issues), I colored the candy in Photoshop.  I chose not to use Painter for this because their colors have behaved in a glitchy, unstable sort of way on my PC.  Photoshop (CS 5.5) has been quite reliable, although I miss Painter's realistic brushes.


Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go binge on chocolate.