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.
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.
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.
In 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.
I 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.
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.
Just finished this – it’s my last week in Basic Illustration. It’s been a great class. It’s been a learning curve going to ink from pencil. The assignment was to choose a fortune cookie fortune and make a drawing from it. My fortune was “You are wise to keep your eyes open at all times.”
We weren’t allowed to use ink washes so it was a change for me as I had to focus on line art.
The ink drawing was first done in pencil then inked using micron pens, a Lamy fountain pen, and a little Copic marker for blocking in the grass. I also use Duralar mylar which helped a lot with my learning curve for ink. Duralar is very forgiving with ink – because it erases cleanly with alcohol or the colorless Copic marker blender.
Every week, the class assignment is to have each person suggest an illustration or group of illustrations based on the reading. For the chapter on tone, I chose this 1912 illustration by Sidney Sime (1867 – 1941) for Lord Dunsany’s The Book of Wonder. I chose it partly because it has some similarities, in terms of subject matter, value range, and atmosphere, to my own project for this week. I also chose it because it effectively uses various value and compositional elements, including a chiaroscuro technique, to guide the viewer’s eye throughout the piece. The first major area of light starts at the upper left corner, then trails around, almost like a curving road, to the first major subject, the city in the rocks. In turn, the curved shape of the light/shadow pattern and the diagonal lines of the rock lead into the menacing blackness filled with eyes under the bridge. The smoky shape at right helps to transition the viewer down to the next major subject, the man on the winged beast.
Imagine what the piece would look like without the large shadowy area at left. It would lose some of its atmosphere, with the impression of discovering something grand and menacing in a dark, obscure region. In addition, the black space filled with eyes under the bridge would be less clear as a main subject of the piece, since the chiaroscuro patterns of light and dark have the area immediately above as the brightest spot in the composition.
Just a quick post for those of you who might be interested in great composition / concept art courses. Schoolism only offers a lower priced yearly subscription every September – it caps after the 1st 2000 signups. There are 18 courses that you can take all together.
I’m starting with Nathan Fowke’s Pictoral Composition course (LACAD, LA Figurative Arts Academy) it’s really helpful – for both traditional as well as digital artists. It’s a 9 week course, but self-paced – each week has about eight 10-minute videos. There is weekly homework and videos of other student’s work. The cheapest option is $144 which doesn’t come with video feedback and redraws from Nathan – but it can help people like me who are attending school full time or working full time. Even if you’re on the cheaper plan, you can look at his critiques and redraws of other students who are taking the premium course – at $1000-1500 per course, so there’s plenty to learn from just watching. Whenever you’re finished, you can switch to another class.
I’ll show one of my exercises in a following post, but here’s an example from Piet Mondrian that I liked. I had seen Mondrian’s geometric work, but I had never seen his early work and how his art evolved. The point Nathan was making with the Mondrian example was that he was exploring the internal structure underneath what was being seen – so he was continually abstracting and simplifying – but also keeping connections and relationships, balance, harmony etc. I appreciate all the thought and time that has gone into Nathan’s course.
School at RMCAD starts back officially tomorrow. My classes this term are Mastering the Pencil and 3D Design.