Drawing Pictures

Hello again! Let's get back to where we left off. Because I created all of my art at 18"x 24" dimensions it was easier for me to do a full illustration in parts, basically a piece would be worked up in quarter page sections so I could keep everything in check. Once I had the whole picture roughed out I would work up the details a bit at a time.

Once I had all the elements of my picture in place I transferred everything onto my final paper and worked the whole picture up in pencil. Making pictures up out of your head can be quite a challenge especially if everything is based on our reality. This landscape doesn't exist as far as I know, so it was up to me to make it as plausible as I could without any photo references to work from, until...

I decided to build a model of the landscape so I could get a better idea on the placement of shadows etc... This picture takes place at sunrise and I was not sure how this would effect the position of the tree shadows and Leroy's silhouette. I constructed this set out of cardboard tubes and brown butcher paper, I placed a light at the horizon line about 12' away (the max distance I could get in that room) and took a few photos. I am really not set up for any kind of good photography, but this image was a enough to get me by.

Before I started any final inking I did a bunch of studies to get my confidence up and to solve any problem areas beforehand, and once satisfied I worked up the finished piece. I hope these " making of " posts are of some value to anyone considering an artistic endeavor of their own. This project was quite intimidating because I am pretty much a self taught artist, and being self taught usually equals making a lot of mistakes. I always learned something from the mistakes, but would have welcomed any information about the picture making process I could have been taught. See you next time.

Sketchbook Artist!

Hey There...Back again with some more information about the creative process involved in our book. I am going to take a look at the first interior spread, leading the reader into the fantasy land of Roy and the rhino.

Before any of our pictures reached their final states, quite a bit of preliminary work went into each drawing. I have to admit that I often procrastinated knowing the amount of effort that would be involved in each image, and found that just sketching randomly was a way for me to avoid the task at hand, it was actually a good way to waste time.

This picture started life as a flash of an idea much like every picture in our book . The above rough was made by my Dad. As you can see the basic elements are present (A path, bird, foliage, Leroy) but the picture needed some major fleshing out. I have mentioned previously that we intended to do the book in full color (more on that in a future post), so I started to mess around with some color ideas just to get the juices flowing.

These pictures were all done as studies to establish mood etc... I have a bunch of this kind of stuff which I am just starting to re-discover. I also have pages filled with sketches and doodles of flora and fauna, which without realizing at the time, is the way most artists work. Duh!!!

I have recently started reading and buying any books I find about Disney, Pixar or other animation studios, particularly anything by John Canemaker, regarding their way of creating stories, characters, backgrounds, etc. Although they are involved in a bigger production involving many people, and much, much more conceptual art, the same amount of work (relatively speaking) is involved in the creation of a book full of text and images. I know better, but often see good art and forget that a lot of labor is done upfront before the final piece is complete, so I am always fascinated and stimulated when I get a chance to see books devoted to the working processes of these artists. I hope these pages inspire you. See you soon!

The anatomy of a picture p.21-22 part3

Welcome back... This week I am going to wrap up the explanations of the final elements I used to compose this picture and talk about the working process a bit. The building and clock tower above is a local must see/do for everyone. It's the West Side Market a Cleveland tradition for 100 years (2012) and counting. In the far distance is another worthy landmark The Terminal Tower.

In this next image I used a bridge spanning MLK drive on the east side of town.

The St. Clair Avenue Bridge is a Masonry Arch type bridge and was constructed in 1899. It was designed to handle a 50 ton streetcar load. That's why it will continue to stand the test of time!

The bridge as it appeared in the early 1920's and today. For anyone wondering how a bridge from the eastside could be in such close proximity to the landmarks on the westside, I used a little artistic license and took in account the possibility of Plate tectonics at play in the near future. Finally in the extreme foreground are a mother Chameleon and her baby, just hanging out basking in the sunshine.

Working Process...

All the images in "Roy and the rhino" were created using pen and ink. I worked fairly large on 18" x 24" Borden & Riley 90# artist sketch/vellum paper. The benefits of working so large enabled me to add lots of detail. After working the picture up to the final pencil state on butcher paper ( I bought a roll at a restaurant supply company, get some the stuff is great for working up your preliminaries it has a nice surface, holds up well , and is transparent enough to trace over without the use of a light table) I retraced the picture onto my final paper and basically redrew everything with all the detail and shading etc... I did all the inking with pen nibs, Sakura pigma micron pens, and various size sable hair brushes. I used Higgins waterproof black drawing ink and Winsor & Newton white  gouache for corrections etc... After a picture was finished I would erase all pencil lines and scan and save the image as a TIFF. I would then open the picture in Photoshop and crop, adjust the brightness/contrast or Levels, and save. I hope this information is of some help to you. I have plenty more info to post in the coming weeks. Before I go thanks to Pat, Matt, and Jim the hosts of Inner Sanctum which airs every Sunday night on v107.3 FM from 10pm-12pm for having me on the show to do a radio interview, I had a great time. Listen this Sunday Oct. 2 and hear me discuss the book. See you next week!

The anatomy of a picture p. 21-22 part2

The statue that I used as an area to place the text is an actual carved sandstone Art Deco style Cleveland landmark. There are 4 pylons with 2 statues on each. The 8 statues all hold a different vehicle to signify the progress of transportation. The vehicles range from a stagecoach to 1930's era cars and trucks. The pylons sit at both ends of the Lorain-Carnegie bridge just to the south of downtown. They are known as "The Guardians of Traffic" or "The Transportation Gods". A must see if you are visiting our city or you live here and want to see something really neat!

Easy as it may seem drawing the statue proved to be a bit of a challenge... First getting the right perspective was essential.  So I took photos, then after examining photos, I decided to make a model... Save your old boxes!!!   I made this model out of a Wheat Thin box and masking tape.

My dad took it a step further and made a scaled drawing and...

this maquette.

That is all for this week. We just sold our first book on Amazon and now when you go to the site it claims the book is out of print. This is false it is actually out of stock on their end. I am in the process of correcting this. If you want to get a copy of "Roy and the rhino" it is now available at Visible Voice Books in Tremont and Mac's Backs Books on Coventry.

The anatomy of a picture p. 21-22 part1

This week we are going to start to show the creative process that went into our artwork. In this picture our friend Leroy walks into an ancient abandoned city he had never been to before. I have always been fascinated by the lost civilizations of the Maya and Aztec as well as Nan Madol and Angkor Wat etc... so this was a natural place to incorporate this theme. Here is how the picture originally started out. I did a few preliminary sketches to get the drawing to this stage and then decided to scrap it and go with a lost city theme.

Here are some rough ideas for the lost city theme. I was going to use a stone head from the Olmec culture and a column inspired by the Toltec warrior pillars at Tula, Mexico.

Once again I decided to "grow" the picture and being from Cleveland thought it would be neat to throw a bunch of well built local landmarks into the image and create a new and unique lost city from the future. I chose some landmarks that will probably stand the test of time. The bridge is a stone arch bridge at Rockefeller Park on the east side, and the statues are known as "The Transportation Gods" and are located on the Lorain-Carnegie bridge just to the south of downtown.

Here's another rough idea sketch. I am playing with the different elements to work up a pleasing composition. That's all for this week. Next week I will show you some photos and some models we made to work the picture up to its final state. By the way as of Monday our book is for sale at The Book Center -  University of Pittsburgh.