Dragonflies helping a dragon fly
I am a caricature/portrait artist and have recently moved over into children's illustration. I am keen to learn and teach, so if you need help with anything feel free to drop me a line.
Can't even have a relaxing day building sandcastles anymore!
It finally seems that the print version of my first book I illustrated "Patrick Picklebottom and the Penny Book" is stocked and available on amazon, and should be on the shelves (soon?) in some retail stores. I honestly wouldn't have reached this point without SVS, the monthly competitions and especially without the help of it's forum members so I owe a lot to everyone here!! I'm currently at work on my 4th book and hope to include a special dedication to the SVS group that has helped guide the way
I hope it's not against the rules to post the amazon link and i'm happy to take it down if it is
Inspired by @smceccarelli amazing "100 kids" project I thought I would give it a go myself to explore and experiment with a variety of styles and character designs. I'm mostly using reference images found on pinterest which I then do a 3 minute timed sketch of and spend another 5 minutes refining the design before doing color studies (again I want to give my thanks to @smceccarelli for her great youtube video on her own color scheme explorations).
Both of these took a bit over 2 hours each and although I could refine them more it would be against the point of the exercise If you are interested in the brushes used, I used Kyle Webster's Gouche Round Opaque with a few custom adjustments for the block in and my own pencil brush which is a mix of the splatter with a texture on top (Will Terry has a great video on making your own pencil brush)
Sometimes the monster under your bed isn't as scary as you think.
I haven't been on the SVS forums as much as I would like in recent months as I have been tackling working on my first books, working multiple jobs and the birth of my first child last year (a job in of itself!!). I have missed chatting with a lot of the members on here and looking at all your great work , so I hope to be a lot more active and back into things.
Anyhow, my meaning for this post is just to thank everyone on SVS, the teachers and the forum members, who have helped guided me through the process of becoming a children's illustrator. I have 2 books that are coming out quite soon and may hopefully be on some major bookstore shelves (fingers crossed). Although I have a million things left to learn and improve upon I feel like i'm slowly walking in the right direction
Here is a step by step shot of how I go from start to finish when creating a painting. As mentioned in the last post I put down a flat layer of the base colors first and from that point I start adding light and color. I try and keep my workflow nice and tidy, but as you can see in the layers image, it becomes pretty messed up by the end point...., however if I put everything in folders then it helps for when I have to flatten each part down.
I try to avoid using too many layer effects, but those that I like to use are:
overlay - lighting and color balancing
multiply - for shadows
screen - adding some faint lighting
As I also mentioned previously, by having a good foundation for what you what your painting to look like will really help get it to an endpoint as painlessly as possible. I stuck quite close to my color study and everything else is just detailing. For the moment i'll be putting this painting to the side and checking it again after I have a few more pages done to look at it with fresh eyes, but it's now in a place that feels like it's mostly done.
Sorry for the late update. I was hoping to upload a WIP to final piece painting, however I've been working through a few spreads at the same time, so nothing is at it's final stage yet. However I thought I would show how I start a painting.
Previously I started painting everything on the canvas and detailed parts at different speeds, however in trying to simplify my process I begin with flat colors and separate them on their own layers. Each additional layer will be clipped to the master layer so that I can adjust things quickly and not worry about having to backtrack if I make a mistake.
@skillydan Good question, however I don't really have a great answer as to how I chose my palette. Generally I try to keep things simple and focus on the primary colors, and just go with what feels right. I try play with my lighting to avoid making everything feel over saturated (though I always feel like I walk a fine line), and this also helps put more focus on where I want the reader to look.
With my value studies sorted I can start looking at color. I try to use a big brush and put down a bunch of colors until I can find what works well. I like to keep things simple and in keeping with my style. These colors will be a guideline for the final painting and I expect to add in a lot more detail, but for this stage they are complete enough.
Whilst painting, there were a few areas that weren't fitting in as well that became more noticeable, so even though i'm mostly focusing on color it still helps further refine the overall painting.
Light and Shadow Studies
When I'm happy with the concepts i'll send them over to the publisher to get them approved and I'll begin to refine them and add in more detail. Most of the designs stayed mostly the same, however I wanted to redo spread 7 as the composition felt too similar to spread 6. I also needed to adjust spread 11 as the stories in the newspaper needed to have an uneven coverage.
To get a better sense of the scene I add some light and shadow, which adds some life to the sketches. These studies will be used as reference as I move into the next stage of adding color and when I wish to check my values later on.
My next step will be to do some quick color studies and then finalize the sketches so that they are ready for the final painting.
Once I have the character designs complete I will start focusing on the sketches for each page. My initial doodles are either on scraps of paper or tiny digital sketches and I try to avoid as much detail as possible. In this way I can see quickly whether a composition works and whether the painting reflects the story. The point is to keep things simple, quick and throw around a bunch of ideas to see where things go.
When I feel that a sketch is working I will go over it again with a little more detail (image 2) but i'm still just focusing on basic shape. As I add more an more to a concept it becomes clearer as to whether it fits in and if I choose to redo it then I don't lose much time.
In image 3 I go over the sketch again adding in the characters and finally adding a some light and shadow. This stage gives a lot more life to the project and the path to getting a final concept is a step closer. However, I still need to do 1 more pass over before I consider the idea complete, but by this point the foundation is becoming much stronger.
As a bonus here is a concept sketch for the tick design that is needed in one of the spreads, the process is most the same, sketch small with a big brush and refine down.
@hakepe I'm quite fortunate that my recent books haven't had any tight deadlines so I can mostly work on it at my own pace, however for work that needs to be done quickly I would write out a time plan first. Once you can gauge how fast or long it might take you to complete something you will feel more comfortable dealing with those deadlines.
@miranda-hoover The snail house was my favorite, but it made the scale of things too unbalanced and didn't work with the composition I wanted to do so we ultimately went with the cardboard house.
@mrsdion In the past was of the same mind to rush to the final painting, but I had so many occasions where I would have to backtrack or restart things as the foundation wasn't properly built first.