Jul 26, 2010

Transferring Risk

This is a small drawing I did for this month's issue of Plansponsor Europe (you can read the magazine on line here), art directed by Soojin Buzelli. The article was about transferring risk.

Plansponsor is chock full of world-class illustrators putting out amazing work every month, and it's a publication I've wanted to work for since I first started a client list. Soojin is really open to different styles and different interpretations of the rather dry material, which always leads to interesting illustration. A lot of my favorite work from my favorite illustrators can be traced back to Soojin.

This is also the second time you can find my illustration in a magazine and then flip a few pages to find one by Jillian Tamaki, so that's awesome. The first was last December's New Yorker.

Some thumbnail sketches:

The best three sketches:

A mockup after the sketch was chosen.

Jul 21, 2010

The Hobbit, part five: process

It seems strange to say that this was the most difficult installment so far, since I feel that way about every piece. This one was, though. Let's get right to it.A few pages of thumbnails down and I had nothing. Like, nothing nothing. Usually I figure out about what I want before too long after I start thumbnailing and that thread leads me to the final image fairly easily. Not the case! This one required more.
The second set of thumbnails went a lot better than the first, owing probably to the week or two I took off before approaching the image again. I was still really struggling trying to figure out what I needed to show and what I wanted to show. This chapter is about Bilbo and Gollum engaged in conversation with each other. It is about Bilbo being on his own and finding the unknown at the heart of the mountain. I still wanted to show Gollum, because he is interesting. However! Bilbo is more important than Gollum, and I began to realize where the focus needed to rest. The last few thumbnails on the last page are on to something.
I figured out a pose for Gollum that I was pretty happy with, and began trying to build the scene around him, starting with Bilbo. I like doing this digitally because I don't get caught up in the details as easily and can, of course, move things about with total freedom. This didn't work out really well, because I went about it in a stupid way. I went back to my heroes of composition (largely Golden Age illustrators [largely N.C. Wyeth]) and found a particular raised horizon line that I liked. I wanted to incorporate something like that into the image and went back to pencil and paper.
All right, here we are. After a few more hiccups, I had something that was pretty close to accurate there on the middle page. I took that into the computer and started blocking in the shapes, moving things and resizing them as necessary until I had the image on the right.
As with the previous Hobbit piece, I printed out the enlarged digital thumbnail and started drawing right on it. This is printed on four pages of copy-paper, comped together at full size (about 11.25x16.5"). The drawing of Bilbo is unbelievably hilarious to me. Terrible terrible terrible. Anyway!
I gathered some reference of caves and such and sketched out some rocks for the background. I was pretty sure most of those along the edges would be blacked out, but you never know, so I drew them all in anyway.
I'm using a few different Col-Erase pencils here, which I really like. It's nice to be able to work in layers on a single drawing. The sword I drew in Bilbo's hand is really terribly angled, and I wouldn't realize that until after I drew it on the final, and changed it immediately before scanning.
Yeah! Final drawing! I blacked out a few of the rocks in this that I knew were only going to be shown in silhouette. I had a pretty good time drawing Gollum's weird little body.
This is a little extra pencil texture to go in the background.
The flatting process. The basic flats layer is helpful for when I'm blocking in colors, and the more detailed layer is for making selections. I was playing around with a few different adjustment layers and cam across those two color examples on the bottom, which I thought were pretty neat. Neither would work for the final, obviously, but I liked them nonetheless.
I did a quick pass to figure out my values before going into the real colors. This was really helpful, and I feel pretty dumb for not doing it before now. Oh well. Kali suggested that, and I did it because she's a genius. She also helped me out with a lot of the colors. The basic colors I went with are there on the right. The colors always get slightly changed and acquire more depth once I start to add texture and what little traditional rendering I do.
I've explained a few times what goes on in these few steps, so I won't harp on it too much. I select my flats and apply textures on a single layer above my color layer. My textures are mostly from high resolution watercolor brushes and some other custom stuff. The purple and red layers are drawn in where I think shadows should fall and are set to Multiply.
Colors are applied to some of the lines and a few more overall textures are added. The texture layer helps to make the colors a little more cohesive. The levels get adjusted and there we go!

Some details:

And a larger version of the final image for your perusal.
Thanks for reading and for following this project through its trials and tribulations. This is a difficult process, and I really appreciate the encouragement. I hope these posts are helpful.

Jul 14, 2010

The Hobbit, part five

"What iss he, my precious?" whispered Gollum (who always spoke to himself through never having anyone else to speak to). This is what he had come to find out, for he was not really very hungry at the moment, only curious; otherwise he would have grabbed first and whispered afterward.

"I am Mr Bilbo Baggins. I have lost the dwarves and I have lost the wizard, and I don't know where I am and I don't want to know, if only I can get away."

I've written a more formal and informative post on the story within this image that you can read on Picturebook Report.

Ok, now that's over.

I've had a long and arduous trip with this image, starting from a design that didn't come easily and a stack of thumbnail drawings inching close to sixty in number, but it's done.

Look for the process post on this image in the next few days, when I can get around to it.

I really wish Gollum were in more scenes in The Hobbit, since I have a lot of fun drawing him and would've liked to show his weird face, but here we are. It was more important to show Bilbo's reaction than to show Gollum, and since Gollum is the unknown enemy, it seems fitting to leave his visage to the imagination.

Thanks for sticking around through all the sketches and the missteps. Wolves and Eagles are up next, and the next final Hobbit image will show up in September.

Jul 8, 2010

More crabs

You gotta be joking me.

Some Pokemon, some little crabs

Those first two pages are Pokemon, the last one is mostly weird crabs. I really didn't want to thumbnail today, but guess what I'm doing noooowwwwww.

I love Pokemon, by the way.

I can't believe I've let the blog devolve into this.

Jul 7, 2010

Gollum 7

I guess I drew these a week or so ago, while warming up for a recent freelance job. That job did some good things for my brain, and these two pages are about the last gasp for this Gollum design. Well, not really the design, but these mark the end of some of the shapes I was using and the way I was thinking about them. This always happens. These drawings and this design and these shapes are all fine (some of them are even good), but they are charmless. I don't want to know anything else about this character because it has no personality. It's not necessarily character design but closer object design. I may as well be drawing a series of lamps.
That's not to say what I'm doing here is much different --it's not. I think my head is closer to being in the right place, though, and the drawings are coming along easier now. I'm thumbnailing the final piece for this guy (40 thumbnails in and still searching), so whatever the final design for Gollum is is what it is. I'll know for certain that it's the final design once I hit Publish Post next Wednesday.

There should be some production work for another project showing up on here before too long, so that will be something different to look at.

I read awhile back that John Lasseter of Pixar liked to say that Pixar's films didn't get finished, they just got released. Da Vinci said just about the same thing about art in general. I sympathize.

Jul 4, 2010

More weirdos

More weirdos and pose exploration done before and between parts of a recent freelance job. There are a couple of okay Gollums in there. Zero thought is put into any of these drawings, and it shows gloriously.