Time to get that imagination motor running!
Time to get that imagination motor running!
Thanks so much y'all! I'm glad to share. Making art is often a long journey with lots of twists and turns, not a one stop shop. Sometimes you gotta just dig your heels in and keep going til you get where you really want to go.
@Julia I've been working on a process that blends watercolor and digital painting together. It's kind of my secret sauce right now, and I'm having so much fun with it. Ultimately, the look I'm going for is that it looks like something very tangible and relatable and real, the watercolor; but then has a lighting quality and magic to it that doesn't make sense for watercolor to do by itself--not easily anyhow--so the viewer isn't quite sure what they are looking at. I've tried to get the look just using one or the other and it just isn't the same. Watercolor has a natural alchemy that you just cannot re-produce digitally, and it also already has a natural luminance to it--and digital painting always has that human touch, hand to media, missing from it. Sometimes the pieces look more watercolor and people can't even tell there is digital painting involved, but there almost always is in my work.
This is a story of going down a lot of paths before you paint.
So, I was going to do "Everyone was shocked to see her show up to school with and octopus." I had lots of fun sketching some cute girl and her octopus sketches.
But, when I went to draw and paint it, it just wasn't me. It wasn't the kind of magic, myth, fantasy, and folklore jam I love doing. I don't even want to share the line art I started, but for posterity's sake here ya go.
So, I went back to the drawing board, and tried to figure out a way to turn the prompt on it's head, so I focused in on the word 'shocked' and thought about a girl literally bringing lightning to school. So, then, I went down a research hole into lightning folktales and mythology and stumbled upon the story of the Kadlu, and fell in love. According to Inuit folklore, Kweetoo, Ignirtoq, and Kadlu are the three little sister goddesses of lightning, rain, and thunder. Kweetoo makes lightning by hitting flint stones together, and I was thinking how fun would it be to show the moment when Kweetoo goes to school and shows her sisters that she can create lightning.
These are some of my favorite thumbs.
I went all the way to finished line art that never got a bit of paint. When I finished it, it just didn't have the spark I was looking for, and just had that generic kidlit look that is not my jam.
So, I started over -ish AGAIN! But, I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to do a portrait and expression heavy piece, but wanted to make sure it had good storytelling, and that's when I thought it'd be good to really bring the sisters in.
I'm pretty proud of the finished piece. I took Jake's critique to heart last time, and really tried to get the full range of levels in there, and did everything I could to make the final image and any illusion I wanted to include as realistic and magical as possible.
I went through a lot of ideas for this prompt, and nothing felt right til I focused in on the word ‘shocked’ and started researching lightning folklore. I asked, “what if a little girl literally brought lightning to school?” So, I found the tale of the Kadlu, and fell in love. According to Inuit folklore, Kweetoo, Ignirtoq, and Kadlu are the three little sister goddesses of lightning, rain, and thunder. Kweetoo makes lightning by hitting flint stones together, and I was thinking how fun would it be to show the moment when Kweetoo goes to school and shows her sisters that she can create lightning.
You can check out my full process (this one was a doozy!) on the forums here.
Love seeing everyone's work! Good luck all!
What an interesting question! I've heard that style is actually a laundry list of someone's weaknesses. I think this is sometimes true, but not always, and I think it comes down to choice. I think it is ideal to be able to draw and paint everything realistically if tasked to do so. Though this may be a tall order, if you have this basically under your belt, your style comes from stylistic choices based on your preferences, rather than your weaknesses. I think you know what you may or may not be doing based on weaknesses as opposed to choices. Nothing wrong with that! In fact, I think it's quite smart to design illustrations always keeping in mind what you're good at, and enjoy doing. (The recent SVS Podcast on style talks about this a bit.) But, you don't want to feel limited on what you can and can't do, so always be working on improving weaknesses and hard skills.
On to your specific question, "How do you personally choose what elements of reality to keep and strive for and which you let go of?" I've been leaning pretty hard into figuring this out lately, since I have spent the bulk of the last two years really working on hard skills (anatomy, perspective, composition, color and light), and a lot of my experiments in really honing in on my style is listening to what people are liking in my work and wanting more of, and then crossing it with what I'm noticing I enjoy and want to incorporate more of into my work. I think this middle ground is where good style happens. I think that it's a better goal for your style to be driven by your strengths, rather than cover up your weaknesses. Find things that you love in other artists' work and work hard on re-creating it in your own way.
@MissMushy ANytime! GL on your masters adventures!
@MissMushy You are asking some very good questions!
I think one of the keys to master studies is having a very clear purpose. Ask yourself what it is that you are trying to learn or take away from the art you are looking at: the line work, composition, color, light quality, maybe how they paint eyes? Otherwise you may just end up trying to make a copy, without learning much. It happens to the best-intentioned of us. So, if what you are trying to learn is the medium that the original artist used, then yes, do everything in your power to know the medium that was used, do the research, and use the master study as a way to explore and learn that medium. If not, then the medium doesn't matter. I appreciate the skill that goes into a master study where the student is just trying to make an exact copy, but I've found over the years (and I am a master study junky), that the best way to get the most out of your master study is to be really clear about what you want to take away from the original artist and incorporate into your own work, then focus on that.
One of the best ways I have found benefits of master studies, is to do many from the same artist. For example, I did a very lengthy series of Edgar Payne master studies with the purpose of understanding his use of color and decisions around composition. He's an oil painter, but I could kind of care less about learning how to paint in oil, but I did want to figure out how to get some of his brushing technique replicated digitally--so, I did the studies digitally. I also didn't waste time getting the paintings to look exactly like the originals, because my purpose was to understand his color choices and compositions, so that's where I spent most of my time. I would do a one hour study of his original, and do a 3-4 hour original painting using what I learned. This is how I do all my master studies now, and highly recommend it to anyone else who wants to be a fellow master study junky. When done with purpose, master studies can be the best teacher.
So long rant short, ask yourself first, "what do I want to learn SPECIFICALLY from this master?" and just focus on that takeaway.
What a fun illustration! @NessIllustration I'd love to see the running characters be a bit larger and closer to the audience, maybe have the cat the closest. It will create a stronger dominance structure, as well as bring some stronger layering and perspective. If you make them larger and shift them just slightly so that they overlap the stairs a bit, you're also going to lead the eye from the mummy to them and back again, and the composition won't be divided by that strong line illustrating the corner of the room. I did a quick re-size to show you what I mean. Nice work!
Also! BTW @Lee-White I forget which class or podcast you talk about it in, but thank you for introducing me to the Pomodoro technique! It has helped me so much with figuring out how I use my time and how long it actually takes for me to get something done, as well as keep me on task in this evermore distracting world.
@robgale If Lee can remind me, (I think it may be the "How to Make Money in Illustration"?) I highly recommend it as well as checking out the Pomodoro technique. It will really give you the realistic number of hours you spend on work.
I totally echo what @Lee-White is saying. As i've gotten more experienced at painting, the research and thumbnails take way longer. I feel like paintings used to take 40 hours (and I'm thinking of full color watercolor to digital paintings I do), but I didn't spend as much time on the research and thumbnails, and would often struggle through the painting, and have to problem solve as I went. Now, I spend way more time on research and thumbnails, and not only does the painting happen pretty quickly, but it's much more enjoyable and relaxing. I do all the problem solving before the brushes come out. I do sometimes spend extra time at certain stages of a painting because it's just fun (we all have certain things we love to savor), and I don't feel bad about indulging in that because I didn't waste a bunch of time re-painting a hand over and over or get halfway through and realize the composition is bad.
That said, my paintings usually take about 16-18 hours (2 full work days is how I like to think of it) from start to finish depending on the complexity--but keep in mind these paintings used to take me about 40 hours.
@Marsha-Kay-Ottum-Owen Thanks, and you're welcome! With this project, I decided to just share the whole process from start to finish. It's going to be a good ride I hope!
@Nyrryl-Cadiz I know right? I was like, "it's a fairy tale, love this story and know it by heart, I need a smaller project after that oracle deck (just completed a 44-card oracle deck for Blue Angel Publishing.)" But, once I really dove in, realized what a grand story it really can be, and I had a vision from the beginning of what I wanted the reader to experience, so am just going to go for it. Some of these are quite complicated too, but I'm going to learn a lot (already am), and I think come out with something pretty special. <fingers crossed>
@demotlj Thank you! It makes it even more fun knowing the structure of the whole thing from the beginning. There were a lot of points, I was tempted to start getting to the art before the whole thing was laid out, but I stuck through it, and am glad I did.
Ummigah, I did it!!!
First time laying out a chapter book, and I'm pumped. I didn't go into this project planning a chapter book, but after looking at what I wanted to do, the age group I want to aim at, and the length I wanted to keep, I think this is the right choice. Other than the spot illustrations I plan to do for the chapter beginnings, I have all the composition sketches in place and the text complete, and laid out. It ended up taking slightly longer than I had expected, because as it turns out, I am fully adapting the text. Pretty much changed the ending, made it more modern and easier to understand for the age group I am aiming at which is 7-9, with the word count clocking in at 8440, and I ended up going with a 8.5x11" book with 18 pt font and 24 pt leading. Adapting a long text was great practice to get me back in the swing of writing, and I really am grateful now for the years I spent teaching ESL! I was a little intimidated at first, but am even more in love with the story since the changes I made. I'm also grateful for the years working in advertising and working with InDesign. Eighty-six pages would have been stupid difficult to do in just Photoshop.
Is it painting time yet? Pretty please? (Well, after much reference hunting and line art anyhow.) I'm pretty sure I'm going to start with Story 1 which is the most snow themed, then story 5, which is the Lapland story and has the bulk of the reindeer illustrations, and will be great for the holidays I think. I'm hoping to do Snow Queen ornaments and stickers, maybe even jewelry! Not sure after that at this point, but will probably save all the flower and garden illustrations for spring. Who wants Snow Queen pendants?!
Holy sh*t you guys! Thanks for suggesting Later.com! Just started on it, and am breathing easier already!
@jdubz I've just been going through the pain of having a cloud folder that is accessible on my phone as well as my computer. Go on my phone, dowload to my camera roll, and post from there. Tap everything out on my phone all painful like, etc etc, but looks like Later.com is going to make things a whole lot easier!
Also, I use an app called Squaready to get nice squares on the phone for pics.
Just joined https://www.scbwi.org/ and they have regional chapters all over that have meetings and conferences. They are also an international hub for artists, authors, agents, and publishers. Kind of the standard club within children's books.
@baileymvidler Thank you! Yes, I do multiple thumbs for each, so that when I go to lay it out, I have options, both for what is best for the story, and also what flows best from one image to the next.
I've found that for printers, the 8"x10" and the 6"x9" is like "the standard book size" is pretty much offered everywhere. Good advice, thanks!
AHAHAHAHA! Done with initial thumbs! So crazy making. Am just itching to paint! But, still so much more to do before I can get the watercolors out.
So, layout is gunna be next. Ummigah...Still having trouble deciding the exact dimensions to do. I think that this will belong in the "Chapter Books" category aimed for ages 6-9, leaning towards the higher end. It's broken down into seven short stories, and I'm going to be doing some re-writing to reduce the text, make it more strong girl hero main character-centric, and the timeline a little bit more sensible and easier to approach.
So, with that said, my understanding is that it should be smaller (easy to hold and read by oneself, and put in a backpack), and portrait layout rather than landscape. I've read that 6"x9" or 8"x10" is a good standard way to go. Anyone have more insight on this? Would love any advice on this if anyone has experience on best practices for deciding dimensions. Does my understanding sound correct? I really wanted to do more landscape style illustrations, but all my research says that would tend to be aimed at younger readers, and this is definitely not just a straight up picture book. Unless I went more adult "art book" (a la Griffin and Sabine or something like that), and then I don't think it matters...but, not even sure about that either. I mean fairy tale art books for adults?! Am I cray cray? I like the idea of going a little more adult art book, because that kind of takes any rules out of the picture...the categories and age groups thing is tripping me up a bit. Must. Decide. Who. The. Audience. Is.
On with the thumbnail extravaganza!