Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Truth About Witches

The Truth About Witches, a book I illustrated for Capstone Press, is out!

The book, written by Eric Braun, is a fun overview of witchiness–from folklore to the latest Hollywood blockbuster. I got to draw characters from The Wizard of Oz, The Little Mermaid, Hansel and Gretel, Harry Potter and even Tomie dePaola's Strega Nona!

While working on this book I came to the realization that drawing ugly is FUN! Fun and liberating. When drawing a witch, if I made the nose too big – who cares?! Heck, make it bigger! While creating these witch characters, the more exaggerated or twisted the better.

Drawing normal people–and in particular children–is more restrictive. If I draw a child with a big nose, there's a good chance that will age him or her; the child can quickly start looking like a diminutive adult.

I altered my digital-painting approach with this project by skipping a step. Rather than make one last precise and clean pencil drawing, and paint over that, I used my somewhat sketchy "rough" drawing underneath the digital color.

Why skip a step? Partially, it was a time-management issue. Also, I felt that my sketchy, "rough" drawings had more energy and life than the clean, traced versions. I'm happy with the final artwork and am glad I decided to streamline my process in this way.

Copyright page (and cover image) with a couple witches concocting a spell.

What does a Witch look like? This spread sums it up: pointy hat, rotten teeth, hairy wart and a pointy chin.

A witch with her familiar. And a very unlucky centipede.

The Sea Witch and the Little Mermaid. I dig the eels and crabs in the witches seaweed hair!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Illustration Friday: Dusty

I created this little guy for the Illustration Friday topic "dusty."

I participated this week because I've been itching to try a different digital painting technique and rather than experiment on a client's project, I used this mummy as my guinea pig. Below is a breakdown of the steps and stages taken to create this illustration.

Here is the one (and only) rough sketch. Typically I spend more time exploring different poses and character design, but I was eager to start painting.

I scanned the rough sketch and printed it at 5% opacity. The sketch printed very lightly, but dark enough that I could still see the lines. I drew the final drawing directly over the printout.

After scanning the Final Drawing, I realized I preferred some of the details of the Rough Sketch. Using my drawing tablet (Wacom Cintiq), I changed the teeth and erased some bandages around the mummy's head.

Here's where I started exploring a new painting technique. Before jumping into color, I painted the values. My hope is that by starting with lights and darks, the final drawing will have more clearly defined volume and structure. I'll also be more aware of how the lights and darks are organized in the composition.

In traditional painting, adding black to darken colors can make for a muddy painting. Using Hue Saturation, I gave the tonal layer some warmth. Did I mention I'm working in Photoshop? I'm working in Photoshop.

Here I started adding color in a layer set to "multiply." This tints the color effectively and works well in the darker values of the drawing.

Here's where the illustration really comes to life. On another layer set to "normal," I started adding color and line. The color on this layer is "opaque" and without it, the painting feels flat – like a tinted greyscale image.

I'm pleased with the final illustration. The tonal painting gave me a strong foundation for the color. Adding the lights and darks early also makes me more aware of their effect on composition and how the lights and darks lead the viewer's eye around the drawing.

I also used the project to experiment with character design. Typically, my people (or creatures) have natural proportions, whereas this mummy has a Charlie Brown body.

I had a blast creating this little guy.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

2010: The Year in Pictures

Zombies. Elves. Witches. Cowboys. And a Yankee Doodle Dandy.

Just another year of in the life of an illustrator. And even though I may occasionally complain about deadlines or eye strain or my sore back, I do appreciate the fact I get paid to draw stuff.