A couple of quick tugboat sketches for “Salvador”
Illustration Friday’s topic popped up as “Fluid” and I immediately thought of a past project I was working on about three years ago. The villains in the story shed off black, inky, fluid as they moved about. Unfortunately, this was one of those projects I just had to let die as, every time I sat down to work on it I drew a blank and struggled endlessly trying to achieve what I wanted. It definitely taught me how to learn to let something die. I have to admit that I really want to complete this project, but am not regretful that I dropped it. It allowed me to clear my head and start over on several other projects since. I still love the story and the concept, so I am sure I will return to it in the future. The manuscript actually came together quite nicely with the exception of one plot hole, as did some of the initial pencils of each page. But, when I sat down to some of the very important page layouts, to finish the ink for each page, or do the final treatments (and this book had a lot of “effects” involved) it just never looked the way I wanted it to and unfortunately the mood and plot of the story relied very heavily on the visuals. I hope to add it back into my queue of projects sometime.
The basic set up for this page is that Benjamin Brigham is a rotter and just a really nasty little child. He plays horribly (really horrible, some times life threatening ;p ) pranks on people, is grouchy and grumpy, and puts up a fight to nearly anything his parents or teachers wish him to do. After being thrown from several schools and scaring away countless nannies and sitters, his parents receive a letter in the mail regarding the most prestigious academy for troubled youth that guarantees perfect results. Madame Lynch, the administrator of the academy has come to collect young Benjamin.
I recently completed a custom commission illustration. It can be really fun doing commissions because they usually lead to something or some topic not normally in the usual repertoire. I can’t remember the last time I drew a hunter, if I ever have! Not knowing the full extent of the client’s relationship to the idea or the meaning of the characters can be fun because it still leaves me open to my own interpretation and style while maintaining the requested qualities. The only requests were to have a very casual hunter (almost as if he is not actually hunting) with a big feather, carrying a coffee, and a deer in the background.
If I were to make many prints of this, it would be a great candidate for screen prints. In this case I just painted the white with acrylic white paint and hand inked the black (plus the client wanted the original, not a print). The image provided was the digital version (scanned the ink drawing,then the white done digitally) which was printed on a greeting card to match the original print. I just quickly dropped it into a stock image frame to show what it might look like in the client’s pre-provided frame. Fun!
Several have asked to see and learn more about the way I work and how I prepare for drawings; I hope to post additional drawing processes in the future. Here is an example from The Daily Mobster in which I prepare a concept which is usually a character name or an exaggerated feature I want to focus on and begin generating the look. I can usually come up with a name, but I also wrote a little script that will generate random names and nicknames for me if I get stumped. Some occasions produce the drawing first and the name afterward, but that is usually an exception.
I begin with a flurry of rough shapes and mood arc lines; in this case the mood line was straight as this guy is pretty somber and straight-edged. When dealing with exaggerated characters, especially ones that will only be seen in black and white and have no obvious color to define them from the others, shape is very important. It is the second thing our eyes process after contrasts. I play around, drawing and sketching various shapes, silhouettes and sizes until I find one that captures the personality and allows for the details I want to include.
Once I choose a sketch concept that seems fitting, I may do a quick study of a specific spot or detail that needs further revision or attention. In this case it was the hand holding the scissors. Then I draw the to-scale underlining sketch. I will ink directly on my sketch, so this is drawn very lightly and somewhat loose as I already have the thumbnail to guide me. The first line of ink goes on, directly over the pencil, which defines all the major lines and I do the small detail accent lines with a different weight ink pen. Then I block in the blacks with a heavy pen or ink brush (if I am at work or traveling, ink brush is a little too messy). After all the blacks are filled, then I do the line weighting and the line shading/hatching. I prefer to control the line weight by simply inking in more lines next to the originals rather than using a brush pen with pressure or a heavier pen, which would be faster, but I feel I need more control over the exact thickness. Finally I fill in the hatching for the fine details or denote key shadows that help to give depth or define shape.
The last step is to do a quick composite on the official mobster background and paint in some shadows on the wall. Preparation in any project is important. Sure there have been several drawings that are really just sketches and turn out great, but as soon as something expands to more than that or has an ultimate goal preparation helps a lot, thumbs and rough ideas are always the way to go.
Linked to Illustration Friday’s “Prepare”
This music video for “Have you seen my sister Evelyn” is pretty clever. I love the feel of the old rubbery Fleischer style, it has such life and character. I can’t watch this without smiling.