Friday, August 15, 2014

A study

Ok, a study. It's always funny that when I first do the illustration, I really like it. Then I compare it to what I referenced and then I am like oh, that is much better. Hoot!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thoughts going on in the background

So far, August is proving to be a slow month, so it's given me the chance to work on my comic work (beginning to pencil out my story of Artie and Merlo!). It's also given me some time to experiment a bit more.

First, the grayscale. I rarely work in black and white artwork anymore, and hardly ever work in grayscale. I decided to fix that a bit. I'm pretty happy with the two spot illustrations above. It gave me a chance to focus on value rather than color. Which is always important to keep in mind when composing images.

More importantly that I would love to pursue further in some sort of capacity is exploring shape and color. The color illustration is an example of that as well as this.

A comment I received from someone reviewing my portfolio recently said that while I can draw wonderfully and full of energy, I could focus more on my backgrounds. I was definitely aware of the lack of backgrounds in my work. This comes from my comic background. When I draw comics, I only need a few well placed lines to suggest outside or a single prop to suggest where the character is. Charles Schulz did that wonderfully.

To be fair, some picture book artists do just fine without drawing backgrounds. Mo Willems' pigeon books don't need a background one bit. Just flat color. When it comes to my picture books however, my ideas move beyond just simple characters filling up the page. So how to treat backgrounds?

Referring back to Charles Schulz and Peanuts, I am currently reading a book on the Peanuts animation specials and movies made by Bill Melendez and Lee Mendelson. It was eye-popping realizing that they had the same struggles of taking Schulz's strip and putting it onto the screen.

How do you take these simply drawn characters that have no background and expand that world onto the screen? They did it just fine. Take this sample shot. From a simple line drawing to a fully emotional scene. The background is simple and very graphic, but with a beautiful watercolor sky.
A screenshot from Snoopy, Come Home

Then while working on my comic, I thought of Chuck Jones' Looney Tunes cartoons and turned to Maurice Noble. As a kid and growing up, I've always loved Looney Tunes, but I have more of an affinity for Chuck Jones' shorts than Friz Freleng or Robert McKimson. Yes, his humor was always teetered sophisticated and completely absurd, but I think what pushed his work over the edge was thanks to Maurice Noble.

Just this sample background reflects the graphic nature of the cartoon characters. Bright colors, bold shapes. Just look at the line of direction!  This is just great design. And that's what great backgrounds should be. They should always be well designed to lead the reader's eye to where you want them to go. No element should be wasted.

PHEW! Many thoughts, but as I continue pushing my work, I continually think of these things.