Sunday, 29 November 2009
Double figures with the sketches! I'm sure this next could be fodder for a country song, "The tale of Tex, the slowest gun in the west". Short and sweet, that's all you need to know about the "Tex" text. Now I know which one of these sketches I like the best, but I think it might be going a little too far for younger readers...? I recall having pages in books from my childhood that stay with me till now (the head on photograph of a great white shark swimming straight at me in my "Dangerous Sea Creatures" book for one...the other Great White eating a horses leg makes 2... both were scary and fascinating in equal measure) but maybe a corpse cowboy in his coffin is too intense...? I hope not though.
I like the fact that Robin Hood's arrow is sticking out of Tex's hat. Bit of an in joke for me alone as I'm pretty sure Robin didn't operate much farther west than Derby :) I'm really happy with the portrait shot of Tex in his tall 'swiss cheese' hat but I think it has something to do with the sepia "Wanted poster" feel to it. As with all these sketches the final illustrations will be in greyscale. I've only left my '3 colour pencil' sketches as they appear straight from the sketch book to show how I like to plan things (OK some digital tone as I cannot help myself tinkering, even at this early stage). Hopefully the differentiation of elements in the sketches by pencil colour will be born through to the final illustrations using contrast alone (that's the plan!).
Sketch sheet 3 has the old hat 'cowboy full of bullet holes leaks whiskey in the saloon' gag. I think this is a bit tired and can be difficult to read clearly but I had to get it down in a thumbnail to clear my head.
Thursday, 26 November 2009
The poem "Favorite Toy" describes the life of domestic servitude of an unfortunate robot named Roy. The young narrator makes poor Roy do all the work and eventually the put upon robot just runs out of juice. I figured that for Roy to keep up with all the demands of his owner he'd need at least an extra pair of arms, and eyes to go with them! And of course (for me at any rate) robot arms have to be of the madly flailing 'danger Will Robinson' Lost in Space variety. It was unintentional but I think I've ended up with a little bit of Picasso cubism going on in the design. Once I hit on trying to get the metal panels to describe the expression on Roy's face I had a lot of fun with it. It's a great opportunity to get some asymmetry as well, which I always find useful in making the character seem less 'wooden' (or, in this case, metal) and more alive. I think if Roy's mood ever improved his mouth would just rotate through 180 degrees into a smile. The bottom eye bags on the left pair of eyes were another fluke as they allowed me to show Roy's less than content mood while also giving him the ability to look up at his work (a nightmare to do with sleepy, heavy lids I find). Once again more asymmetry as they also stopped all the eyes having the same heavy lids. So, show four eyes and you can make your characters show a range of emotions, all at once! That's it, I'm drawing all my characters with multiple eyes from now on :)
Monday, 23 November 2009
I want to make use of some textures when it comes to the final pieces for the book and this next poem about a worm who overindulges in his favourite snack, what else but soil, gives me the chance to try out a wall rubbing texture (sketch sheet 2) I've had kicking around on my desk for a while. I'm really pleased with the contrast between the dirty, stippled background and the smooth voluminous worm. Hopefully it will give a bit of contrast to the final greyscale artwork. I took inspiration from the wonderful character design of Kaa in Disney's Jungle Book (later used for Sir Hiss in Robin Hood) where the coils of the snake's body were used to create arms and shoulders and not just to serve a functional role, grabbing Mowgli, but also to beautifully express Kaa (and Sir Hiss) personality. How else can you make a snake look like he's sulking! The poem calls for Jonas the Worm to suffer from heartburn, hopefully I'm in the right area, though I did stray into nauseous at one stage.
Friday, 20 November 2009
Over the half way hummock with the book illustrations. The next set of sketches is for the poem "Lonely Tree". A slight change of mood with this poem about a depressed tree that asks of a passerby to chop it down and put it out of it's misery. The kind hearted individual refuses to do the dirty deed but instead offers to be the trees friend and keep it company. Now the poem didn't describe the passerby in any depth but for me making him a lumberjack adds a quirky significance and depth to this friendship, a kind of skewed view more fitting to the rest of the book. I hope it doesn't water down the warmth of the poem with needless humour or the potentially macabre 'axe argument incident' which might occur?! For me lumberjacks always have an instant visual appeal if only because of Monty Python and 'that' song... Perhaps this grizzled trunk thumper, (or is it bark basher, log lopper...?) always yerned to be a tree surgeon just as Michael Palin's barber longed for the life of the lumberjack..."leaping from tree to tree...etc...etc...! Maybe I should give my lumberjack suspenders and a bra, and a plate of buttered scones to eat :)
Monday, 16 November 2009
The food metaphor is appropriate with this next set of sketches for the poem titled "Food". What you need to know for this one is that the unnamed narrator spends three verses describing all the unpalatable and downright inedible meals they would happily scoff (bees on toast being but one unsavory dish...). However this glutton, like so many right thinking people, draws the line at sprouts! I really didn't want to only go with the obvious on this one and simply show one or more of the weird foods. Bees on toast is there as a straightforward illustration but right from the start I wondered who it was that was enjoying such a varied diet...? He started out seated at a table but the logical conclusion for me was to make him a 'beached whale' of a couch potato. If you wonder why the stripy top, he's vaguely modelled on a 'big boned' tutor I had at university who always (well in my memory always...) wore horizontal striped tops. Maybe the guy was tiny and the stripy tops were an optical illusion that made him look wider than he was...? Anyway fat men wear stripes (wasn't that a Steve Martin film...?!). I digress but this ramble on the subject of the fat, slovenly and unkempt reminds me of a PG Wodehouse quote I heard regarding an untidy, disheveled man who "looked like he'd been poured into his suit, but forgot to say when..."
Saturday, 14 November 2009
Almost a week between posts! I haven't been shirking though. I've a few posts for the book saved up but I won't flood the blog all in one go (might be a difficult 'meal to digest all at once :). Here's the 'appetiser' as it were. These are two versions for the poem titled "My Girlfriend". All that you really need to know is the unnamed narrator of the piece has built themselves a girlfriend out of an assortment of odds (very odds) and ends. As one line in the poem says this creation was perfect for warding off crows I decided to hang my hat on that. You could say an alternative title might now be the farmers romance...?! I actually don't think the addition of the farmer in the second sheet is doing all that much for the poem but in the interests of variety and choice I put him in there for to see how he fit. More 'courses' to follow shortly!
Sunday, 8 November 2009
Sorry Kev & Phil that my contribution has been so long in appearing! It's been a while since I've done a complete sketch on the wacom tablet and it made a pleasant change to all my sketchbook work of late. I know these salamanders aren't all that freaky twisted Phil (although they are anatomically twisted you have to admit...) but the main thing to inspire me from a google of the topic was the amazing colours and patterning of all the various salamanders so I decided to play it bright and bold and loose! Onward to the next creature sirs... camel spider it is!
Saturday, 7 November 2009
These are two approaches for "The Boy Who Was Awful At Magic". The pint size prestidigitator is a little over enthusiastic in his sawing an old lady in half and he forgets the safety catch! Luckily there's a doctor in the house to set things right. I wonder whether there might not also be a simpler third variation just using the sheepish boy pose from the far left of sheet 2 by himself...? I held back from showing any blood on these so as to keep things suitable for more sensitive viewers.
Thanks so much to everyone who has been giving me feedback on these posts. I've been fixated on sketching every free moment, hence little time for blogging. Sorry not to repay in kind at the moment but I really appreciate your comments!
Sunday, 1 November 2009
Busy, busy, busy. Amongst other things I've been working on the next 'Bathroom Lion' instalment. This is to illustrate the tale of "Snorky the Shrimp" where the unfortunate crustacean of the title bemoans his bad limp and is comforted by a kind hearted plaice. A brotherly bond in the briny blue. My early attempts at the shrimp were a little to insect like, then I headed into Aardman animation mouths for a while, but once I'd sketched the bottom middle fella on sheet two I really felt I'd started in the right direction for the character. Hope you agree.