Wednesday, December 20, 2006

First Snow, Step-by-step Part II

And here's the reveal...

I'm going to jump right in and show the color final first. It looks so much more...well, finished than the first steps do. They tend to look a little odd until I get enough layers of color down. This piece is mixed media. I use a combination of color pencil (Prisma Pencil and Derwent) and pastel dust (NuPastel ground into a dust and rubbed into the paper).

Here I’m layering in the color pencil (CP). This is where I feel like the characters start to come to life. This is the "odd looking" stage, but it’s a good way to show how I work. The three kids on the left have the skin tone and mouth and eyes pretty far along. The boy holding the paper snowflake has the base colors, plus some shading started on his skin tone. The two girls on the far right have just the first wash of color. I will end up using around 10-12 layers on the skin.

Moving on to the hair. I want to start getting some surrounding values in now so I can make adjustments to the skin tones. Again, adding very light layers of color. I'm alternating between warm and cool colors for the skin. And getting some dark values in for the hair.

Now I have the faces and hair done. I will keep checking them as I get more surrounding colors down and tweak as needed.

Now I've gotten the shirt colors in. This is still all color pencil. And I'm still going very slowly.

On to the brickwork. This is where I’m using the pastel dust method... and moving a lot faster! The brickwork is pastel dust rubbed into the paper in layers (NuPastel ground into a fine dust and applied with tissue and make-up applicators). Then I lift the mortar areas out with kneaded eraser and will be detailing with CP. (Started the mortar and added some CP on the far right.)

Finished the detail work with color pencil on the bricks. At this point I’m thinking the classroom scene is a little too light. Plus, it seems to need something to tie things all together, so I decide to make some changes to the classroom, darkening, bringing in some warmer brick colors for cohesion, and going a little more realistic, less outlined.

And the final piece! Made the adjustments to the classroom. That helped tie in the brickwork. Finished the window frame and snowflakes.


Monday, December 18, 2006

First Snow, Step-by-step Part I

Here’s a detailed step by step, work in progress for a piece I’m just finishing. I‘ll be showing this in two stages, first the development of the “under painting”, then the application of color.

Initial value study. I start with a tight sketch in graphite. I did a lot of research, checked reference material, and did preliminary sketches and composition before getting to this point.

Revised value study. I make adjustments or changes and work up the values for most areas. At this point I know some values will be darker, but leave them as is for now. I will want to do some areas in color only.

Final print-out. I have decided that the snowflakes will need a blue under painting instead of gray to have a more crystal appearance later. I was worried I would be fighting the gray, so I went into Photoshop and made changes. Then I printed out the final under painting, on my final art paper. (In this case Stonehenge.) This is what I will be adding color to .

Double page spread. And here’s a sketch of the layout of both pages. The text will be centered on the left hand side. For this WIP, I’ll just be showing you the progress of the right hand side.

I'll post the color steps and final artwork in the next day or two.


Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Time to Wish, Step-by-step sample

First, I start by outlining the main shapes as a road map of where I'm going. Then I start in on the eyes. This is about 7x10. I usually work pretty large, but since this is such a close up point-of-view, I was able to work smaller.

I'm working in graphite on Duralar, which is cool because it's a transparent support. So I can lay it right over my initial sketch without having to transfer. I get a very smooth look, and can blend easily, but it doesn't erase well. I basically do a full B&W drawing.

This is the final value study. I keep this as an original and print out a high resolution copy onto my final art paper (in this case Stonehenge) to then use as a grisaille or under painting. For this one I printed out a slightly lighter version. The color in then added with Prisma pencils.

For her hair, I start by deciding where I'll need lights and darks. So yellows and creams get layered in the highlights, and reds and browns in the shadows. For the skin tone I start with a light wash of cream, then peach. I layer color using a very sharp point and a very light touch. I'm working from left to right here, so you can see the initial colors on the right side.

Finals layers of color are added to the girl and fish. I used complimentary colors to create depth in her hair. Translation: There's lots of indigo blue in the shadows. The skin tone has probably 20 layers of color. Layering alternately between yellows, pinks, violets, and using darker colors with each layer until I get the depth I want. Time to move on to the fishbowl and tabletop, which are done in the same layering technique.

Final illustration.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Studio Tour

I should start at the beginning, but the beginning happened a long time ago. So I'll start with today. I needed to create this blog as a way to share work-in-progress images of my illustrations with people who couldn't view them elsewhere. I decided as long as I was at it, I'd share my quest to become a published children's book author and illustrator. So I'm starting with where it all happens. In my studio.

My very short walk to work!

My backyard studio, designed and built by me and my husband.

Inside my studio.
The first shot was my opportunity to get the one and only photo of a clean workspace. I had just gotten my new printer and hooked it up to my new computer. Lots of rearranging and cleaning involved. I don't imagine it will look this way for long.

The second shot is what it normally looks like when I'm knee-deep in a project. I've got a stacking problem.

The last shot shows my drawing board the way it looks most of the time. I do start out with the pencils arranged by color, but they don't stay that way for long. I carefully planned where all the windows are in my studio, so I've got great lighting. I truly appreciate how lucky I am to have this place.