Monday, January 07, 2013

The Cygnet from the January Issue of Cricket Magazine

I illustrated a story by Susan Dickinson called, The Cygnet for Cricket Magazine about a boy who can speak to swans. This was a difficult subject for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that the deadline for the finish came just before a trip I was to take to the east coast to visit my dad. I still feel as though it's good work, but I could have done better time providing.

I was going for a art nouveau style, with the intention of having the line art look like it was made with a series of lithographic plates like an art nouveau poster. I looked at Mucha for inspiration, as well as old chromolithographic posters. I have long been fascinated by the whole process of chromolithography in early printing. Chromolithography came before the four color process (though I believe four color was around in Mucha's time) and instead of using cyan, black, yellow and magenta as in contemporary printing, layer upon layer of individually chosen colors were used, sometimes 20 or more, each with its own plate. The colors can be quite vibrant, each print a work of art in itself.

Here's the illustration for the title page, but since this is the 21st century rather than the 19th, it was printed in plain old CMYK:

The story is fantastical, but one of the problems in suspending reality is the question of physics. In this illustration the swans have rescued the boy, and he's being carried on the back of four swans flanked side by side. The boy is meant to be about 7 years old and probably about 70 lbs, so the image is a bit counterintuitive. My solution was to crop out the boys body and treat it more like a portrait.

If time had allowed I would have put more light on the clothing and made it a little more dimensional.

Included in the magazine was the work of Gennady Spirin, an excerpt illustrated by Spirin of a book by Sheila MacGill-Calahan. Sharing a space in the magazine with Spirin was both inspiring and humbling.   Sometimes looking at the work of someone as great as Spirin can make you wonder if you're ever going to come close to that level of accomplishment. All I can do is keep working hard.

In Recent News:

My on again, off again illness has continued to put a dent in my productivity, but this will change as soon as I get proper treatment which should be in the next week or two. Still its has been a frustrating few months. Fortunately I managed to finish binding all of 18 books to send to art directors and editors in the next few weeks.

Not long ago my agent Abigail Samoun set off for New York and Boston to show off my book and meet with some of those same art directors and editors to talk about my work and the work of the other many talented Red Fox Literary artists and writers. Hopefully this will result in some future work for all of us.


  1. An excellent series. Your style is developing so beautifully, each new piece is more beautiful than the other. It's the kind of work that I'd love to see in motion. I think you'd be a great style artist for animation studios Jed.
    Truly fantastic drawings my friend! :)

  2. I don't think these are my strongest, but I appreciate the support! I feel I let myself down a bit with this one. There's a third that I'm not even showing, but it's not a total disaster.

    I love animation, and would love to be a part of something animated, preproduction stuff, particularly if it's 2D like Chomet, as long as I could do it freelance.

  3. Jed, I'm pleased to make your acquaintance through your blog. I particularly like your solution to the problem in physics your author set up for you. The point of view zeroes in on the experience of the protagonist. I'm looking forward to seeing more of your work!