One in a series of 20. I’d love to have these printed at like 8 feet wide. Clicking will make it bigger.
Archive for the ‘character design’ Category
This is from the tiny sketchbook. Fits in my coat pocket. I’m drawing a fast as I can, lifting the pencil up as little as possible and seeing what happens. This was from two different times in the afternoon. I rather like the kid in the giant helmet.
Lots of witches in this sketchbook. Witches on my mind. Witches are the subject of the picture book I am starting final art on right now. I’m really excited to do a witch book and this one has plenty of twists (story wise and in illustration expectations). But there are some large crowd scenes so I need a lot of individuals ready to draw.
Posted in character design, childrens books, Green Bean Books, green beans, How Martha Saved Her Parents From Green Beans, illustration, kids books, picture books, tagged David LaRochelle, How Martha Saved Her Parents from Green Beans on January 30, 2012 | 3 Comments »
I’m finishing up a new picture book by author David LaRochelle, as I mentioned in a post last week. It’s about bad green beans. Or is it green beans who are bad? They are definitely not the good, quiet green beans that grandma grows in her garden. Above is a quick sample of the kind of green beans to expect in the book. It’s almost like the cast from an AMC or FX show ala Breaking Bad or Sons of Anarchy. But not one of these beans has a heart of gold! They are ALL Bad Beans.
Every illustrator and author/illustrator has different strengths and weaknesses in their work. Of course to some extent this is subjective. But overall we naturally do some things better. For instance, don’t ask me to draw a horse unless I can hang a name tag on it.
But this issue goes beyond how realistically you draw a horse. It’s really about your ‘voice’ as an illustrator or author. Does your art feel moody and dark, silly and cheerful, whimsical and funny? When you write do you go for laughs or like to send chills down a readers spine? Do you like to draw things as we see them or bend them into a new perspective?
Part of the challenge of working in commercial art is understanding what you do well and what you don’t. The type of story that you can write easily/naturally may take huge effort from another writer. And when you are an author/illustrator (all that freedom comes with a price) the situation gets even more stacked against you. Can you hit the right tone with both your writing and your art? Do they reinforce one another and create something greater than its parts?
When I choose to illustrate a book it’s usually because it fits with my strengths and that the topic of the book is interesting to me. I like horror, Sci-fi, and wildly, silly stuff. I would never have an interest in taking on a piece of historical fiction as a writer or illustrator. It’s too far from what I do well. I admire the work when it’s done well, but it’s not for me. Same for trying to paint a picture in a ‘classical’ fairytale style. I can’t imagine doing a YA cover. I don’t do ‘serious angst’ well enough. Maybe I could pull off a really funny one…But I think I’m more likely to fit into middle grade. Maybe that’s because I never grew-up beyond that age!?
Finding what you are good at means deciding what you don’t do well. And avoiding those projects as best you can. It means saying no, more often than saying yes. And if you have the desire and ability, writing and drawing a story may be the best platform to demonstrate your unique strengths.
Of course moving out of your comfit zone is a good thing too. Just leave enough time for a project that pushes you. For instance my new 400 page graphic novel about a family of horses living on the great plaines in the late 1800′s took a lot of work. OK, that’s not true. I don’t have a horse graphic novel. That’s definitely one of the projects I won’t be doing anytime soon.
Posted in animation, animation art, Animation Artists, character design, Disney, Disney Feature Animation, picture books, Pinocchio, Walt Disney, tagged Dumbo, narrative art, storyboards, Walt Disney on December 5, 2011 | 2 Comments »
I recently acquired the book titled – Story – from the Disney Archive series. It’s really a collection of storyboard and story art from various animated Disney films through history. From Snow White to Lilo And Stitch, including art for The Nightmare Before Christmas.
It’s one of the least focused books in the Archive series, but that’s OK. In John Lasseter’s introduction he makes a good case for calling all the work in the book ‘story’ work, whether they are stand alone story sketches or part of a modern day storyboard sequence. He also gives a bit of a story lesson about how storyboards started as just sketches in the corner of scripts that helped the Disney artist better visualize the story.
It’s a delight to admire all the different styles of art in the book. Some panels are made up of no more than 6 simples lines that communicate exactly what they need to for that particular story beat. Others are filled with beautiful draftsmanship and stylizations.
The book includes a few pages of art that would definitely be considered traditional ‘layout’ art and a fold-out page dedicated to Dumbo and that amazing ‘raise the tent’ sequence. But the overall effect of the book is wonderful. It’s just beautiful to see page after big page (the book is 26 x 11 when opened up) of artwork that is concerned with telling a story. You can enjoy the character design, the layout, the sheer beauty of the storyboard pages from Ferdinand The Bull but then you can step back and admire how much is communicated in the drawings. You also get plenty of opportunity to see classic Mickey in all his modernist, circular construction deliciousness. There’s even a few pages with Pluto art. Pluto is my all time favorite Classical Disney character.
It’s a beautiful book and is an inspiration for anyone who draws pictures that need to communicate a story.
I spent most of this week at the park with my daughter and her friend as they attended various summer camps. I did a few sketches while sitting in the sun. Well, to be fair there was only a little sun and quite a lot of clouds for July in Oregon. At least the rain held off until today.
Did the Vikings run into Bigfoot? You’ll have to buy and read ‘So You Want To Catch A Bigfoot?’ to find out. Available in fine stores and online locations soon!
I received advance copies of the Judy Moody film related So You Want To Catch A Bigfoot book I talked about previously. I did 25 black and white illustrations for the book and overall I’m very happy with how they turned out.
It’s a funny read and there’s plenty of classic Bigfoot visuals to look at in the book, not just my illustrations.
For those who wish to know – I did rough pencil drawings, scanned them in and did the final art on a 6×8 Wacom tablet, using Photoshop with a brush I designed myself to recreate a pen and ink line that I used to use back in the ‘good-ol-days’. Not that those days were that good, or even that long ago now that I consider them…
Working on the computer made it easy to play with adding a ‘wash’ to the drawings and the reproductions in the book are very good. The art director and designers on the book made it possible to get all the work done on a tight deadline. And they had some helpful notes on my art too. And those are the best kind of notes to get. Notes that help make your work better.
I wouldn’t mind catching Bigfoot myself, but I’d settle for someone capturing my neighbors when they are using their leaf blowers and recreating the sounds of living next to a Freeway. But, that’s another story.
I’ve discussed how great the iPad is for comics on this blog before. But the more time that passes the more intrigued I am about getting work out for the iPad and any of the devices that follow in its footsteps. And in the next month or so I will be releasing a 27 page Cave Bear and Duck issue on the iPad. It will feature a few interactive elements, but to start off with, it will be very much a comic book that you can enjoy on the iPad.
I set out to create a simple, solid (no crashes please!) code base to build an e-book or ‘enhanced book’ platform from. And we have that. The reader is in final beta and looking great. I’v been working with two developers and we have a lot of plans about how to expand the platform and create even more dynamic, narrative structures and navigation methods.
Cave Bear and Duck will be a FREE download at the App store. It features pop-up navigation, opening theme music and a ‘read to me’ sound track, featuring the dialogue from the book, read in the characters voices. I just got back from a few days in LA to record the soundtrack, and it’s awesome! I don’t want to give too much away, but one of the best voice actors in the business stepped in to create Cave Bear and Duck. (More on this closer to launch.)
The voice performance encourages younger readers to better understand the dramatic aspects of the story by hearing the written dialogue performed with character voices. It enhances an understanding of how the words can live ‘off the page’ and is a fun perk to having a device that can present audio playback.
I don’t believe that adding sounds or music to a comic book will make a better comic. The book still needs to look good and have an appealing story. But it’s a small step in building out possible new features for enhanced books.
But even without any new media bells-and-whistles, the iPad is a seriously wonderful platform to read comics on. As the prices drop on this type of reader, there is no doubt that it will become the main method for digesting books and comics ETC. I’ve purchased and read several comic books on the iPad already. While I may not end up at the comic book store as often, I don’t have to fill up as many bookshelves either.
I’ll post more about the comic as it gets closer to release. I will also be launching a small website to support the books we release (part of the contract to release Apps from Apple’s store). We will also list upcoming projects from other artists who are creating fun, all age, child friendly material to take advantage of this relatively new, and rapidly evolving platform.
Time Marches On! And so does my graphic novel. I am inking every day now (well, digital inking, as I am drawing this in Photoshop). Coloring tests have started, and it’s looking great. I’m seeing how many pages I can average in a day. Granted these are smaller pages, about 6 x 8, but somedays it’s a lot less finished pages than I was hoping for.
Here’s an inked page from the middle of the book. No words in those balloons. I have to keep something secret! Closing in on the due date but I won’t post a release date until I see it in proofs!