I've just begun a new book for the very lovely Robin Adolphs- A Brisbane-based author of children's books. I've illustrated two other books for Robin in the past and this one is my favourite to date. Robin has a bright and breezy, heart-centred way about her writing and it speaks to me. To be illustrating her newest book is truly an honour and I've taken to this gig with a great sense of enthusiasm and (with Robin's permission) have decided to journal my doings in this blog. It's also my intention to have Robin here to post her thoughts and words of wisdom along the way...
I usually find my artistic feet on a new project by beginning with the cover design, this might just be a personal quirk but my reasons are this:
1) it helps to work out the main characters (if they feature in the cover design, that is...)
2) It sets the 'look' or the 'tone' of the book
3) Last but not least, it helps the artist (me, in this case) to feel as though I've achieved something. A canvas painter would see this step as a blank canvas and those initial marks help to 'break the ice'. This step is very much an ice-breaker and one I would highly recommend. I'll post character sketches and progress shots as I go but for now, here's how the cover design is looking at this stage...
The conceptual doodle...
My favourite part of the process, this. I very much enjoy throwing the pencil (or digital pencil) around and seeing what happens. There's no pressure at this stage, the loose energy translating itself into something that vaguely resembles an idea. As a creative person, it's the 'stumbling-onto' of new ideas that gets me moving the most. Any stages thereafter can be fun but usually require more thinking. At this point, for me at least, it's all about letting go and seeing what happens...
Step Two- Tightening Up
I've scanned the sketch into my drawing software on the PC and have given it a once over, bringing things together to create a more coherent idea. Things gradually begin to take shape from this point (click on image to view progress below...)
See the tones beginning to creep into the line art? Next, I add a sepia overlay. It helps to lose the white of the canvas and offers more tonal variation enabling me to push and pull the lights and the darks to set a more solid underpainting. I work this way traditionally and it helps to adopt a similar proven, working method with your digital art.
You'll see in the last step here that I've thrown some colours over the top, this helps to work out the look of the characters and is also helping to move the image to a more finished stage. Still a fair way to go but it's all coming together...
Here's the final cover rough, complete with text placement and lightened for clarity. The finished cover will be far brighter and bolder colour-wise, more refined artistically, but at this point, we have a good idea of the direction the book is taking, a good feel for the characters and we've broken the ice... brilliant.
Aaron Pocock is a 40-something illustrator based in Brisbane, Australia who has been'arting' and illustrating since he was old enough to hold a pencil... It is the intent of the artist to both enlighten AND entertain and he hopes this blog will be found both useful and enlightening. Stop back here often for new content...