Slowvember WIP (book spread)



  • Hi all, I am finally able to focus on the challenge of this month! Yesterday was my last day at my previous job and today a whole new life begins, a life where I can invest time from now till January in nurturing my illustration skills and seeing where that takes me.

    I want to start building an illustration portfolio geared towards children's books and one of my ideas is to illustrate story 'fragments': I don't necessarily have the ambition to became an author too, so I figured I would just come up with a little portion of a story and illustrate that in 2/3 spreads. I might not even put the actual words on the spreads, but just leave space for them and follow the underlying narrative with my drawings.

    The story fragment I came up this would be something like: a kid takes part into a little science experiment at school (repotting a plant or something like this) and takes the plant home. There's a moment of pride when he comes home with that, but then overnight… the plant 'awakens' and comes to life! It starts growing, inside the room, down the hallway, up through the ceiling and the roof and all the way up to the moon.

    I have laid out the structure of the 3 spreads
    Screenshot 2019-11-21 at 13.18.00.png

    The next steps will be:

    • Choosing which spread to illustrate for the Slowvember submission (I have a preference for the second and third spread over the first)

    • Exploring multiple options for the spread I choose

    • Continuing the visual research I started and gathering references

    I would love your feedback both on the concept and on which image feels more like a 'hero image'.



  • I am still a little behind, but I'm hopeful I'll make it. Here is my current progress: I picked spread number 2 in the end, the part of the story where the plant comes to life and did a bunch of thumbnails to test different narrative approaches. The four illustrations I landed on will be closer together in the end (2 per page, forming a large spread). I am ready to move to value studies, where I'll have to figure out how to make the plant glow in the dark. I would still love to hear some feedback regarding composition or storytelling. Side note: I am thinking that this spread could be accompanied by a simple line of text that says something like: "But overnight..."

    Screenshot 2019-11-25 at 22.17.50.png



  • @Elena-Marengoni I like how it is coming along. I noticed just a couple of minor things.

    1. In the first panel, I see what you are trying to do with his glasses (trying to make him disheveled) but they are very distracting the way they are placed with the eyes.

    2. In the last panel, you might want to watch the roofline of the 3rd house back. It is creating an unpleasant tangent with the edge.

    3. In the 3rd panel having the one plant grow into the other is odd. You might want to just have a leaf at the end.

    I can't wait to see value studies of the panels.

    Good luck... I am not sure if I have enough time to finish for the contest either...



  • @theprairiefox thank you for the feedback, super helpful!

    Agree with you, the glasses are a little distracting, maybe they can be resting on his head on just in a normal position, I'll try out a couple options.

    I had also thought at some point that one plant growing into the other could be kind of weird, the fact that you see it too gives me a clear direction!

    Regarding the house, do you mean the window of the last one near the tree or the edge of the one in front (or potentially both, now that I think about it...)?

    Good luck to you too! My current mindset is: even if I don't finish by the end of the month, better to stay true to the spirit of Slowvember, go slow and get the most out of it 🙂



  • @Elena-Marengoni Yeah, the window and the roof in front of it. Just not quite on or off the page...



  • @theprairiefox gotcha, will fix it! 😉


  • SVS OG

    Hi Elena! I really like your layouts, and especially the one of the boy in bed when the plant starts to grow. It has a really nice value range and design. I also like how you have four narrow panels in a row showing the plant's progress. Prairie Fox made good points, but you are addressing those. I can't wait to see how this turns out! Good luck finishing and enjoy your sabbatical!

    P.S. Ho letto che abiti a Milano. Sono abbastanza vicina--Torino! 😊



  • @LauraA thank you! such a small world (vorrà dire che magari capiterà di incontrarci!! 🙂 )



  • Haven't fixed the drawings yet (I will do I once I get ready to paint the final in traditional media) but since they weren't big changes, I thought I would go ahead and do values and color studies, trying to make the illustrations part of the same world yet different. Note: color fills are not always super precise cause I had to work with my trackpad (waiting for a new cable for my tablet) but hopefully you'll get the idea 🙂

    Screenshot 2019-11-26 at 21.53.33.png



  • @Elena-Marengoni

    I was thinking lighting up that plant when I first read it just now. Two/three suggestions for the plant (whether you considered them already):

    1. have the plant green (silly to suggest I know)
    2. within the glow establish a growth system, i.e. seeing it pulsating or pumping energy/ moving up (get creative)
    3. have the plant turn slowly to the white of the moon on the top portions -> to push a story like this plant grows fast and large during the full moon and maybe shrinks down once it's over or dies, reminds me of the phoenix 🙂 or it's really from the moon and somehow fell to the earth, or even lives in the moon (that's doctor who inspired). I am having fun. I got to get back to Braden's writing stories thread. @Braden-Hallett

    Only small tangent I see is in the second kitchen work where the small offshoot is lining up with the vertical line of the cupboard.


  • SVS OG

    @Elena-Marengoni I like the fact that, although the plant is growing, it's actually getting smaller in each of the panes, because it's bursting through more and more rooms. They look elegant as a series. I also like the color comps. I see the point about the plant being green, but your color schemes are subtle and besides, the white make it look glowing and magical. But that tree in the background of the fourth panel is a little different, not only in color, but in form, and it leaves a question in my mind. Is it an ordinary tree, or does it bear some relation to the magic plant?

    The small sprout to the left on the second panel looks like it's about to touch the edge. I'd either make it touch, or pull it back away from the edge. I'm really curious to see what your traditional media version looks like!

    P.S. Sarebbe bello se ci incontrassimo! Non vengo spesso a Milano, ma magari mi serve solo una scusa 😉



  • Thank you @Heather-Boyd and @LauraA for the tips! I definitely took them into account when painting the first panel and will do for the following ones!



  • @Elena-Marengoni, these look pretty cool! Agree with other input already stated; however, also noticed in the 2nd panel the plant stem looks like the cat’s tail.

    You might consider moving the cat between the plant.

    Also, the attic kinda looked like a bedroom because the dresser, but then I noticed the spiderweb. Maybe replace the dresser with storage boxes?

    Great work nonetheless!


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