It’s been a while since I’ve posted on this project. I’ve had to work on this in between contracts so it’s slow going. That’s always the way with personal work. Being an Illustrator is not only a passion but also my career, so the jobs that pay have to come first! (missed AMÉLIE THE STORYTELLER PART 1? See it here!)
These projects are the ones that keep you sane, the ones that remind you why you LOVE what you do, and hopefully are also the projects that help you grow and learn. Since the end result is not for anyone but yourself it’s a great place to try out new techniques and new styles. As an artist it’s important to keep learning, keep trying something new and keep growing your skill. It’s not always easy to find time, especially when money is a factor in what you do (and really it should be if you are making a career out of commercial arts) but it is important in defining who you are.
So looking at the above image it doesn’t look like I’ve done all that much. At this stage I am doing more sketchbook work than working on the finished piece itself. I’ve said before how important references and research is. I really don’t believe you can do a convincing illustration if you don’t know your subject matter. Even if you are doing something really cartoony or stylized, you still need to understand your subject matter, how it moves, what it looks like BEFORE you stylize it. It’s what makes your illustration believable to the audience looking at it.
For some reason I can’t do roughs on a computer. I love the feel of a floppy sketchbook and pencil. I love that I can throw it in my bag and bring it anywhere, that it can be dogeared and show that’s it’s been loved, flipped through many times and maybe put up with a little abuse. It adds character. (Yes I am also that person who still prefers real books in my hand as apposed to digital books, although I can appreciate a well created digital children’s picture book, but it’s not the same). Here are a couple of my sketchbook pages, playing with the forest characters for this illustration.
As you can see I am also thinking about plants and what other elements will be in the forest with the critters and Amelie. To collect visual references I’ve started using Pinterest. It’s proven to be a wonderful way to keep all my references in order, instead of having a million bookmarks in my browser, I have them all in one place. Why it took me so long to figure that one out I will never know!
Whenever possible, the best references are taken from life. Since this scene is going to be a deciduous forest, and I have North American animals in it, I went for a hike with my camera and my pup. What better way to see what grows in these types of forest than to actually just go out, breath in the air and look around. I didn’t see any wildlife other than birds (the down side of bringing a large happy Golden Retriever with me), but I have a lot of real life references for the flora I will use in my illustration.
What I hope to do soon (another project on my to-do list for this year) is to make a few photo albums to share high resolution textures with you, for free use in your illustration work. As well as putting my personal nature photos in an album for public reference.
Alright! Enough blogging and back to drawing for me. I will continue to share my progress with you on this project. If you have any questions about my process or any other illustration questions please feel free to email me. I am always happy to help fellow creatives when I can!