Children’s book illustration

Sketching Bears, Wolves, and Dogs

This week’s assignment are gestures of bears, wolves, and dogs. Using a envelope for the animals and simplifying geometric shapes helps with simplifying. The class is setting into a routine of drawing gestures with a little value added in some, skeleton and ecorche version, and discussion post which looks at different rendering of animals characters and how they can be portrayed as protagonists or antagonists in a story. It’s fun seeing the examples that my classmates come up with.

I’m finding I really like drawing with the Procreate app on the iPad pro and Apple pencil. It’s close to drawing with a real pencil. When I want this soft effect with pencil, I usually prefer to use mylar (Dura-lar) which comes in huge rolls from Dick Blick and erases cleanly.

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My discussion post:
There’s some amount of range when it comes to how sympathetically bear characters are portrayed. On the sympathetic side, there are characters such as teddy bears, and related characters such as the Care Bears and Winnie the Pooh, which are modeled more on the stuffed animal than the actual animal.

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More realistic sympathetic bears include Baloo from any of the multiple adaptations of The Jungle Book, Smokey the Bear, and the bear family of Maurice Sendak’s Little Bear.

On the more antipathetic side, there are characters such as the bear in the film version of The Fox and the Hound, and the grizzly bear from the film Balto, which are portrayed as bestial, inhuman predators.

When wolves are portrayed positively, they tend to come off as majestic, intelligent, loyal, embodying the nobility of nature; the wolf family in The Jungle Book, Moro in Princess Mononoke.

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Negatively, wolves are portrayed as crafty predators, as with the classical fairytale archetype of the Big Bad Wolf.

 

 

wolf-4The main example I can think of when it comes to neutral/background characters is how, in Donald Duck etc. comics, otherwise “human” side/background characters tend to be given dog noses, and occasionally ears. Here, the use of animal characteristics basically just signifies that these stories take place in a completely unreal fantasy world.
In general, I would say that completely realistic renderings of animals, as you might find in an educational book, often have less strong emotional expressivity, and are less immediately emotionally accessible as a result. Even mostly realistic designs often “cheat” when it comes to faces, adding human elements such as humanoid scleras, eyebrow muscles, and mouth expressions.

My Experience at SCBWI-WWA Spring Conference

I had a great time at our Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Spring Conference. It was neat to be with such an enthusiastic group that were all interested in children’s books. I liked all of the speakers, but especially David Small and Kazu Kibuishi who shared a lot of their personal stories about how they came to be motivated to do the work they do. David Small is Caldecott winner and Kazu is a writer and illustrator of graphic novels like the Amulet and Explorer.

This was the first time I put together a portfolio. I searched on the web for examples of how to set one up. I use an inexpensive photo album on Amazon that had a window in the cover.

I liked being able to present my work in the portfolio evening, but I also liked seeing everyone else’s work. I’m thinking about doing more drawing with ferrets especially since my visit to the ferret rescue in Kirkland. Their fur is very soft. There were a lot of illustrators I also had a chance to discover. I especially liked Heidi Aubrey‘s mice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a week off, I’ll be starting animal anatomy and drawing (yay). I’m also a few weeks into volunteer orientation to work in wild bird rehabilitation – skills training starts in May.

Western Washington SCBWI Spring Conference – This Week!

I’m be  attending my first Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Conference this week in Redmond. I’m doing some tweaks to my portfolio (here’s my new improved Snow Queen) and printing up business cards and postcards.

I’m signed up for the Illustrator Intensive “Hard Things to Draw” with David Small (see some of his covers below) as well as participating in the Juried Portfolio show. I’m looking forward to seeing lots of portfolios and hearing from other illustrators and writers, art directors, and agents. I’ve heard these conferences are great for networking and getting started in children’s books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s my design for a business card: 

I’m also doing  film class this RMCAD quarter, so I’m putting together a short film discussion of the movie, Vertigo.

I had a great chance to interview author and film critic Jeffrey Overstreet and attorney and film lecturer Robert Cumbow, in addition to my family. I even attended a 6-hour Cinema Dissection of Vertigo at the Seattle International Film Festival Center which gave me an even deeper understanding of the film.

Still Life – Otis in His Study

Here’s my final project for Still Life Painting. It was a great fun. The assignment was to create a composition that included ceramic, glass, and metal. I included Otis, who  is a bird that I grew up with on our front table. He was molded by talented ceramicist Stephani Stephenson of Revival Arts Studio (her Facebook page is here). It was nice to be in touch with her after all these years.

From Otis, I learned a lot more about handling acrylic. For this piece, I used Ampersand Aquabord, Golden Acrylic, and Holbein Fluid Acrylic.

I’m also excited to share that I sold my first work through my website (thanks Garret!) and two additional works through the Gage Small Works show.

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Deer Illustration Final and SCBWI Keep It Simple Art Show

Here’s my finished (I think) ink wash illustration from my concept class. Now I’ve begun Still Life, so it’s back to paintbrushes.

I did want to share some photos from our Western Washington SCBWI Keep It Simple Show. I’m lucky that it’s such a great group. Everyone was very generous and it was incredibly helpful seeing other people’s work, their tear sheets, and business cards. I’ve put in links to their websites on their works below. Check them out to be inspired. The artists are David Joaquin and Liz Wong in the top row; Maja Sereda and Tracy Wallschaleger of Red Dog Images.

The keynote speaker for the night was Jennifer Soloway of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. She gave a fantastic talk on how to stand out from the slush pile, great first lines, and some of the ins and outs of being an artists’ representative.

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Inspiration – Process Thumbnails

It was busy for me last week. I’ll have to write about the SCBWI meeting in another post. Here are last week’s enlarged thumbnails from Concept Illustration. Up top is my Green Man and below Wish. I’m chose the deer thumbnail to elaborate this week.

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The other thumbnails based on the random ink – water mixes are posted below. To look at the original random ink mixes I was working with, see my previous post.

The guy at the bottom is my most atypical one – but it was the face that jumped out of ink splatters. Last week we also had an exercise in which we were to take a walk and sketch everything that we saw that was a particular color. Then we were to combine those in scenes. I can see how these exercises are creativity stretchers. I really like this class.

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A Tale of Two Poes – Edgar Allan Poe and Raven Drawing

This past week, I had a caricature assignment. Caricatures aren’t usually my favorite art form, but it was interesting because of the way the class is held. The first step is extensive visual research on the person, then word lists based on different aspects of the person. I picked Gothic poet Edgar Allan Poe, so his words and poems also helped with generating a word list.

Next, our discussion was to share 3 caricature artists who could serve as an inspiration for our assignment. I picked David Levine, Mort Drucker, and Miguel Covarrubias who did Stanley Kubrick, Albert Einstein, and FDR below.

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We had to do a final line drawing, 2 value sketches, and 2 color options based on a value sketch that we liked best. I drew the original in pencil on Mylar (much cleaner to erase) then added value and color using Photoshop and an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. Caricature is helpful because it teaches you to simplify and pick the key features that make up a person or his or her expression.

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Which do you like best?  I think my teacher liked orange Poe the best, but I thought the purple Poe best fit with his melancholia. I also just opened up a store on Red Bubble. If you’d like to get a print or card, visit HERE. If you’d like to get an orange Poe instead, email me at kristereide@gmail.com  The final is due this week and I was thinking of adding some background.

screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-8-46-34-amRed Bubble is pretty easy to set up for all types of gifts and merchandise. I can see why artists like it so much.  Poe pillow anyone?

Value Studies and Final Snow Queen Painting

After sketching thumbnails for my Gerda vs. the Snow Queen’s Snow Bees painting, I created 3 quick 3-value thumbnails to decide on the final composition. I found it really helps separating out the composition and value decisions before committing to a final work. Because I wanted to base the painting on the original Hans Christian Andersen story, I also want to work in the detail that he had about the palace being lit by Northern Lights.

Although I liked the extremes of values in the value study, I settled on the 3rd study because I liked the idea that the shadows on the hill would be pointing to Gerda, my focal point. I added some hills in the background to create greater depth and also added more complex branchwork in the final.

I started out with pencil and watercolor on Arches watercolor paper, but finished the piece digitally using Procreate and an Ipad Pro because I could play around with different color combinations before deciding on a final. I really like Procreate and the Apple Pencil because the process of illustrating with them is so close to real pencil, paper, and paint – but with much more flexibility with materials and undo’s. I had an earlier version, but Phil my teacher and classmate China suggested good feedback about brightening up the colors among other things. Our next assignment should be fun – drawing caricatures. I’ve picked my subject already…Edgar Allan Poe.

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Sketching Scenes with Maquettes

maquetteIn Concept Illustration, we have an assignment to design an illustration based on the broad theme of conflict (character vs character, character vs. environment etc). I’ve thought about doing illustrations from the original Snow Queen so on our thumbnail assignment, which was limited to black and white and approximately 1 x 2 inches.

I’ve always been inspired with James Gurney’s maquette work (here is his Skybax maquette made out of armature wire, sculpey, floral wire, and stockings covered with latex among other ingredients.

gurney-skybax-maquetteI liked being able to walk around the scene and vary the perspective – vertically and horizontally. I used armature wire and chavant clay which doesn’t harden.

I also had to have 2 color comps and three 3-color value sketches. My instructor picked thumbnail 3 so that’s the one I’m working on, but with more background added.

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Our discussion this past week was to collect illustrations that could be used as inspiration for creating your scene. I picked these great works by Sendak, Lathrop, and Dulac.

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Drawing Animals from Life

roo-head-shotroo-krister-yardI’ve had a week off before heading into the new quarter and Concept Illustration. I know a lot of animal artists talk about visiting the zoo to draw animals from life, but the zoo has its limitations – including the fact the animals are usually pretty far away. Yesterday I went to a Kangaroo farm and had a chance to hold a baby kangaroo and get close to a variety of animals I don’t normally see.

roo-grooming llamaBesides kangaroos, there were lemurs, emus, donkeys, alpacas, Patagonian Cavies, and more. Plenty to see. It was neat to see the differences between animals and their different temperaments.

how-to-train-animator-gurneyI had heard that Disney and Pixar animators work with live animals to capture their gestures and expressions.

Ralph Eggleston of Pixar said he watched a lot of National Geographic videos to get the correct shivers of birds for his For the Birds video (below). He also videotaped his bird for a few hours and he and his team studied its movements. The team also brought in Cornish game hens to study volume and weight.

I mostly took reference video and I’m going to practice sketching animals from different perspectives. I’ve heard it’s better trying to sketch from a looping video than relying on still photos alone…I can see why. James Gurney shared his tip about sketching a pony from life. He chose the time to draw it when he knew it would be sleeping.