Monday, February 27, 2012

Illustration Progress Report

Just felt like telling s/one (lucky you!) about how my new illustrating job is going! I accepted the job several weeks ago for a children's book. I won't tell the story line, cuz it's not my story to tell, but I thought I'd share my process.

I don't know how others do it, but an illustration of this size (about 10 2-page spreads, plus a cover and various "spot" illustrations) takes me many months to complete (especially in conjunction with a day job). I do it in several stages.

STAGE 1 - Character sketches. This took me several weeks (mostly on the weekends) as there are 5 characters, 4 of whom are based on the author's children. So, altho I'm not a Portrait Artist, and these are not exact portraits, it was still important to the client that there was some resemblance. This took a bit of emailing pics back and forth and adjusting this or that ( the gap btween 2 front teeth needed to be larger, rounder cheeks, not so round on these two, etc.) but eventually they were all worked out. Phew!

STAGE 2 - Really sketchy sketches working on the layout on any paper to hand (envelopes, lined notepaper, the back of a bill...). This was done all along, whenever an idea and spare moment coincided. Sorry - no one gets to see these! They look like they were done by a 4 year old - all circles and odd shapes and scratchy lines meant to represent the characters and landscape w/out actually drawing them.

STAGE 3 - The initial drawing on the actual paper. This is what I worked on this past weekend. I chose a non-scan pencil for this as it's a little waxy - not much dust to make smudgies - and the lines are not supposed to show up on a scan. Still, it has to be done lightly, and not overworked as some will show through.

STAGE 4 - I go over all of the lines I decide to keep with Prismacolor pencils. I match the color of the lines to the actual color of the item (peach for outlines of body parts, brown for the tree trunk, etc.). I lightly erase the extra lines as much as I can. (Some still show, but will disappear in the final stages.) The examples you see here are completed thro this stage.

STAGE 5 - Layering in color (including adding patterns) and blending. Probably one of my fave stages. Scheduled for next weekend!

STAGE 6 - Coloring in the background if it's not going to be left white. (In this case it's not, and I have a special background effect in mind which I'll keep as a surprise!)

I thought I'd like to show my client the progression, as so far she'd only seen the character sketches and must have been out-of-her-mind w/ curiosity as to the actual illustrations. However, this is a one-time deal. I won't do this for every step or even every pic for a few reasons. One - the actual size doesn't fit in a home scanner - it's too big (16.5" long) so I have re-position & scan it several times to get the whole thing sent. Also at this stage I keep it in the pad for added protection and the spiral binding prevents me from scanning the whole thing. That's why you won't see all of one of the children - he's on the side where the binding is. Every time I scan, I take a chance on crumpling up the paper, which most likely would result in having to start over! Plus, an illustration in it's beginning stages can look scary w/ sketch lines showing and smudgies. If you're not used to looking beyond it to the finished artwork, it can make you think it should be scrapped! But, I thought I'd chance it all w/ this first one,just so she could get a little relief from curiosity!

And now I can share it with you, too!

That's all for now. Thanks for looking in.


Cindy D. said...

These are great! I love those alligator suits, and the tree is a great tree, too. I find the middle stages on my own stuff to be the hardest, because in some ways the illustration looks its worst with just initial color or initial ink lines without the detail and the finished color effect.

It's really cool you're doing this commission! I don't think I could do it. I don't do people, for one thing! And the back and forth with your customer and the slightly too round cheeks and things would drive me batty!

Good luck on it, don't stress too much and I look forward to seeing more of it!

Sheryl McClure-Pitler said...

Cindy, you are my inspiration when it comes to process/progress blogs! I love seeing your fantastical creatures come together!