Saturday, April 25, 2009

James and the Giant Peach

So here's my giant James and the Giant Peach picture. I've always been a fan of the book by Roald Dahl, and love the imagery. My favorite illustrations are the ones done by Lane Smith, who also did the designs for the stop motion movie, one of the best book to movie adaptations I've seen. Lane Smith was the third official artist to take a crack at it, and though I like Quentin Blake, I was never satisfied with his images for the story, and the original illustrations weren't quite there, so I guess the third times the charm.

So my objective was to stay as true to the book as possible. This is the scene just before my favorite image in the book, when they tie the seagulls to the stem and the peach is lifted up into the air.

In my new illustration style my aim is to leave nothing to the imagination, and to cram as much as possible in there, so I have the sharks, the seagulls, all the main characters from the book with relatively accurate insect anatomy, and James. I gave James a couple of patches on his shirt because he was much abused by Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker, and my guess is that he didn't have the best clothes.

The descriptions of the characters in the book are sparse, which leaves a lot of leeway for interpretation, but I stayed pretty literal. James was the biggest bitch to nail. I drew James I don't know how many times. I"m still struggling with my kid drawings, but received much good advice from Mark Martin and Angelique Benicio.

So this one's all about the peach, so I gave the peach the most room in the composition.

So click on this one for the bigger version:

And a detail:

And last, the ridiculously huge version:

As before, I drew and inked each element of the picture separately. First the background with the water, the peach and the sharks, then each character and seagull. Here a few of those figures:

I drew a lot more seagulls than I ended up using though. If I had used all of them you wouldn't be able to see the ocean, so I kept it to a few.

Once again I made watercolor textures and scanned them in, then cloned them into the drawing as needed.

I very seldom use anything but the clone tool for color to give it more of a wet media look, adding only a few highlights here and there with the regular brushes. As a final touch, I printed out some of the seagulls in light blue, painted each individually and scanned them.

I'm most proud of the water in this one. Water is a very weird thing to draw with a clean contour line, since it doesn't really have any hard edges. You're sort of making it all up, coming up with your own vocabulary to describe this moving substance. Drawing things like sea foam and waves with lines is a real challenge.

So that's it. This one also took about three weeks to draw. On to the next one!

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  1. Anonymous8:08 AM

    Jed.......Your AMAZING! Though I haven't read the book, my kids and I have thoroughly enjoyed the movie version. I saw it for the first time, this last year, and enjoy it everytime we have seen it since! I swear I'm going to get some prints of yours.....I still love the bicycle tree on, my fav.

  2. Wow! Thanks!

    I'm glad you saw the movie because It's a really great movie! As I mention in this post, the artist who designed the characters for the movie (Lane Smith) also illustrated my favorite version of the book. Even if you haven't read the book, the movie does the book incredible justice.

    You posted this anonymously, though, so next time you post let me know who you are because it kind of sounds like we know each other.

  3. Great job Jed, the more painterly approach really meshes well with your Tintoretto-like line quality.

    I hope you continue in this direction; can't wait to see what it evolves into.



  4. Thanks Frank! Means a lot. I had to look that one up. Rembrandt and the Dutch Masters and maybe Rubens are my main reference point for the Baroque period (and I could have this all wrong. Maybe Tintoretto is a mannerist?).

    At any rate, my deficits in art history aside (I'm more a fan of modernism) I think I get what you mean. A sort of lyrical line. Rubens also had that, And Ingres, and Hokusai (a big influence) and some others. There's a curviness to their lines, like. Their figures are smooth stones tumbled in a river. So I'll accept that as a high compliment. I have no perspective on this stuff, and I thought I was kind of doing what you're doing with line, but I guess my lines are more heavy.