Monday, October 20, 2014

"Blackbeard's Ghost" for Cricket Magazine!

The  October issue (available at a finer magazine emporium near you) features the first story I've both written and illustrated for Cricket Magazine, "Blackbeard's Ghost." I've illustrated a number of stories for them, but this is the first one I wrote on my own.

This issue features a gorgeous cover by Daniel Krall:

Daniel Krall

As proud as I am of the story, this is a little bittersweet.

The majority of these illustrations were done about three years ago in a style I've since abandoned. While I am proud of the images, I don't feel they're quite me. It's more of an attempt to emulate classic illustrators like Noel Sickles and contemporary illustrators inspired by that tradition like Greg Ruth. There's some me in there, but it's buried in technique.         

The reason these images are a few years old is because I  approached this story in a novel way: the images were done first, with no initial intention of writing a story. They were simply an experiment in doing YA illustration. Then I wrote the story around them. "Blackbeard's ghost" is a kind of Treasure Island pastiche about a boy who stows away on a pirate ship. The story was suggested by the one color image I did at the time of Blackbeard.

The other images were colored for the magazine, and a fourth was added.

 There a bit of a misunderstanding on this one about the lantern. Both the lantern and lantern light were placed on a separate layer, and the lantern was meant to overlap into the text area, which it did, but somehow the light emanating from the lantern was ommitted, so the lantern doesn't have its intended glow in the print version.

I went with a very limited palette on these, evocative of some of the early magazine illustration by Noel Sickles and Robert Fawcett.

The fourth one is the title spread:

Unfotunately they printed a bit dark. To be fair, they were very dark to begin and it's hard to print these kinds of subtle value shifts in CMYK.

Otherwise I'm happy with how it turned out! My first published story in  Cricket. Cricket has had a long tradition of publishing some of the best writers and illustrations in children's lit, and I'm proud to be a part of that.  They've been very good to me, and I'm anxious to do more work for them, and hopefully, more writing as well as illustration.   

Monday, September 22, 2014

Giraffe Town rough

A rough layout for Hippotabus, work in progress.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Spongebob Fan Art

So, basically, I want to draw for Spongebob Comics. This is my version of the characters:

What Chris Duffy and Stephen Hillenburg are doing with Spongebob Comics is nothing short of seriously awesome. Just like he did with Nickelodeon Magazin, he's hired some of the best cartoonists in the business, cartoonists you'd never expect to be doing a kid's comic. While there is a "house style" for Spongebob, and there are strips done in that style, many of the artists are asked to draw in their own unique styles and tell Spongebob stories in their own unique way.

I've worked once before with Chris very briefly during his Nickelodeon Magazine tenure. It was just a small spot illustration, but I had a great time. Chris is a fun guy to work with.

Am a buttering him up? Yes. Yes I am. But it is the sincerest of all butters. There are no additives or emulsified fats in this butter. This is hand churned. This is the real thing. And this is my Spongebob.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Big Bird Bath

A Pencil rough for my work in progress, Hippopotabus.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Hippopotabus Vignette

Here's the first vignette image from my work in progress, Hippopotabus. This is for a book proposal, so no guarantees that it's going to become a book, but I'm hopeful. I wanted to give a nice clear read on the two protagonists and introduce

I Decided to do the edge with a faded crop. Here's the shape I made with a wet into wet splotch of ink and some photoshop tweaks to make it round and symmetrical. I wanted the fade to be nice and organic rather than with a photoshop brush.

As usual I do the images in pieces, with ink brush, and dry brush. 

I even did the dress pattern separately, using the transform/warp tool to make the pattern fit the contours of the form so that it didn't look flat. 

And the water. One of those cases where I ended up cropping a lot of it out, which is a shame, because I like a lot of what was happening here, particularly in the foreground. Sometimes I get carried away with the render and don't take into account what's not going to show.

Here's the image before color and crop. I added the turtle, later, to correspond with my earlier hippo bus image.  (more process on that link).

You can see I kind of overjungled here as well. Better planning would have eliminated the extras, but I figured I'd worry about the crop later and having too much, rather than too little would give me more options.

Then I made some watercolor overlays for shadows. I painted these on a light box over the printed out image above. This is the first pass. I did one other overlay for shadows on the mother hippo's clothing. The purple is a stand-in, because I can change the overlays to any color I want to.

And that's about the size of it. Most of the color is done with scanned watercolor textures with some color manipulation. A few highlights, like the one ones on the bus, are done digitally, but most of this is wet media in one form or another. Even the highlights on the water are done by taking watercolor textures, separating them from their backgrounds, lightening them up, and pasting them in. There's also some digital airbrush to darken the edges and pull the focus. I also color the lines. So it's actually about 90% wet media. The computer gives me a lot of flexibility, but wet media still gives that touch of the hand. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Juvenilia: art I did in my late teens

So here's some work I did when I was a teenager. It's actually not bad.

This one is in 1990, so I was about 17. Clear Doctor Seuss influence here.

And this one has a huge Rick Grimes influence as I was getting more and more into indy comics.

This one I'm still pretty proud of. I remember doing it a bunch of times until I finally got it right. I was very compulsive that way. Still am. The Grimes influence seems obvious to me now, but there's still some of me in there.