Hello Robot!

Looking back at past projects I completely forgot how tedious my process can be sometimes, especially when I need to depict a light source just right, an emotion just right. I’ll never get anything just right. It’s more like “good enough for now” or “well the viewer will understand this image just enough I hope.”

I hope that in this particular image process that I’m about to share, the viewer will understand the story of Hello Robot in one image.

The story of Hello Robot is very incomplete. I have the images but I can’t seem to get the manuscript “just right” or even “good enough for now” because the reader wont understand the story just enough. Words just can’t describe the way I feel about Hello Robot so maybe light and emotion will.

I’ll start you off by introducing Hello Robot, or Bucket, here.

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My process for a completed image always begins with character development. I need to know the character before I can accurately create an image of them. Getting to know the character is the longest part of the process, I mean it takes a while to get to know someone properly, right?

Now on to the image which I hope the viewer will understand that is the peak show of character for Bucket here. I first start with a thumbnail and then a detailed sketch like this:

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Here I don’t have the lighting quite right but I have the shapes down. The lighting is very important for the entire story but especially this image. You might be able to see why in a bit.

I’ll go on to several color sketches. Depending on the final product, if I work traditionally then I’ll do digital sketches, if I work digitally I’ll do traditional color sketches like these.

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I’m starting to figure it out in the first color sketch and by the second sketch I know what I have to do in order for the emotion and the light to bring about proof of character and peak story arch.

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Here I’m finally on the digital. This image is about half way, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I did not track all my process with the digital piece. I never do! Maybe I should do this is the future.

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And there you have it, the final! Okay so I went on about light and emotion and stuff for a bit. Light to me can have a bunch of different meanings but the core meaning for me is spiritual. Here Bucket is leaving the light from below to explore the darkness above, an attic. He must do this to complete his exploration of the house to find someone to say “Hello” to that will say “Hello” back. He doesn’t find a hello in the darkness but he does find something else.

Sounds kind of spooky when I put it that way.

Do you understand his emotion? Do you get the “well the viewer will understand this image just enough I hope.”

Hello Robot is a whole story about exploring shadows and saving light sources. but...28_29.jpgUGGGGG 14.jpegbw5 copy 2.jpgcomplete? copy 2.jpg

 

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The Eyebrow Lift in Art

What was that?

How did this happen?

What are you doing?

Why am I doing this?

What’s going on?

Where do I go?

What now?

The more I create artwork intended for kids the more I notice certain trends in my work. Among these trends is the slight eyebrow lift (well, the unbalance of eyebrow) my characters wear on their faces.

Why do I do this?

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Self portrait, why do I do this?

Well first of all children’s book characters NEED life, personality, exaggeration and, to put it simply, CHARACTER. For me this means to immediately draw an eyebrow lift as the eyebrow lift is an indication of question, wonder, skepticism, humor. It can mean a lot of different things depending on the situation of the story…

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The eyebrow lift can be a conversation with another character, a communication tool with just a look.

1.jpg                 Or the eyebrow lift can be a silent, personal contemplation of the next step in the story. “What should I do now” or “Where do I go from here?”

Even a grim realization that has no questioning can be made clear with a subtle lift of the eyebrow.

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Here  “It” comes…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or BOTH characters can communicate with eyebrow lift to show silent humor  conversation.

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Some might ask, “Why just focus on the eyebrow lift? There are other facial expressions that can speak without words too you know…”

Of course! And that’s another reason why I love children’s book illustrations is because of the facial expressions. The reason why I focus on the eyebrow lift is because of it’s unbalanced structure and it’s questioning. Kids at their core are curious and representing that curiosity with the slightest mark is beautiful.

In a way the eyebrow lift is a peek into my illustrator personality. Some artists are known for their color or light or maybe excellent drawing skills. Others might be known for their chosen topics. Character facial features is another indicator of style and I would love to gather all the illustrators that I know and love and research which illustrators use facial features as a unique indication of style as well.

For now, I’m simply pointing out trends in my artwork that I can latch onto and understand how I can make my work my own.

So… see you later? I guess?

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Portfolio Prep 2, Multiple Styles

Having multiple styles in a portfolio is a blessing and a curse.

Sure this can indicate that you are versatile with medium/material and yeah this also means that you can illustrate different genres too and that’s fun.

However most publishers/agents/whoever you are showing your portfolio to doesn’t want to see too many styles. They want to know what they’re paying for. Consistency and an organized portfolio is the key to multiple styles.

Consistency in multiple styles? What I mean is make sure you can pop out that particular style anytime. Eliza Wheeler had a similar problem but she ended up owning those styles with a beautiful, prize winning portfolio awhile back.

Here are a few styles that I’ll have in my portfolio:

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They are each pretty different huh?  The first piece is digital and I tend to work obsessively over details when I work digitally. The middle is watercolor with photo reference, with some composition and color changes, of my cat. The next one is in watercolor as well however it’s more from imagination. I tend to want LESS with watercolor.

 

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Even with my black and white I can still see that I apply a similar “paint” texture. And my shapes and drawing stays the same.

 

 

 

Ultimately I think it’s how you place each style next to each other that will make all the difference. Tell a story with your pieces. Use one piece to progress to another. Or if you are working to illustrate multiple genres split the styles completely in a creative way, that’s what one of my critique members did.

Just for laughs, here is one of my “older” styles…

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Yeah, I’ll be having that in a separate portfolio haha.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Commission Mission

I’ve had four commissions this month! Yippee!

However not all of them were children’s book related, actually most of them were NOT so I won’t post them on here. I will however post the ones that I do think might relate to children’s books.

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This one unfortunately didn’t work out, but I did like working on the image.

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This is a WIP and wasn’t intended for a PB, however it looks very middle grade I believe. Who knows! I could illustrate a middle grade one day.

Last month AND this month were both pretty busy! I should start writing reviews again, I did read just about fifty picture books last month haha. Plenty to write about!

The Push Pull

I’ve had several different painting professors in the past, all very different people with incredibly different styles and techniques. The one thing that they did have in common was the “push/pull” concept within a painting.

What the “push/pull” concept is is the use of color or texture, or perhaps how much paint painted in an area on the image’s surface, to “push” certain shapes of the composition to the back and “pull” the most important shapes to the front.

This idea is pretty darn basic, but it is this push/pull of abstract artists that I’m most inspired by and believe I’m beginning to think by this rule as I work on the creative surface.

Hans Hofmann is the first artist I think of that uses this technique very well and in fact does a trick on the eyes of constant push/pull movement throughout all his pieces. Marc Chagall is another artist, though different and not necessarily abstract, who used color and shape to move the eye and depended on these two elements to tell his strange, dreamlike stories.

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The illustrator of Firefly Mountain, Peter Sylvada, also does this with colors and shapes. This one in particular reminds me of Eyvind Earle.

 

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And this little gem, The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach, also has a great push/pull abstraction with color, light, and shape that I’m inspired by. That bear is behind the bench, and the bench is clearly in front of the bear, however the two fight back and forth to see who can draw the eye the most and be priority of the composition. It’s wonderful.

Mike Mignola  is another favorite artist of mine who does this.

 

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Now I definitely do NOT have the skills of these artists, but I can’t help but notice and enjoy the push/pull the acrylic and digital paint provide. Sure I use color to push some shapes back and pull some shapes forward, but it’s the texture that I’m using with the push/pull in mind.

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Another push/pull I’m finding in my work is the almost sfumato style of making certain pieces of the image more focused, usually what is in the foreground for the viewer, and blurring the background. No, I don’t think I took this from Leonardo da Vinci, I simply can see better up close than far away. My daily vision is this kind of push/pull and I would not have noticed that without going back to the Stitching Butterflies pieces.