Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Characters with Heart pt. 2

We are back with another look at the character design for my upcoming book, Heart.  Where we last left off, you were introduced to L.B., one of my main characters in the story.  Today you will have your first look at Thump. Thump is spirited, always happy, and always awesome.  His name not only reflects what he is but it reminds me of a lost boy from Peter Pan.  He's been really fun to paint especially opposite the L.B. character.

Here are some initial sketches I did before landing on the water color look to the book.  I decided that since Thump was going to play opposite L.B., his look needed to feel regular.  Not bland but what a heart should be, yet still invoke the bigger personality and free spirit I gave him in the book.  The one thing you'll notice too is that he doesn't have an extension of a body like the L.B. character.  His face and body are one in the same hence the arms and legs coming directly from his head.  One thing I also made sure to do was make one eye larger than the other, but keep them circles and avoid using white around the eyes unless I really need to send a clear message for what he's feeling.  That became tricky but I think I pulled his facial expressions down without adding too much to the eyes.  Nice and simple.

When I got down to coloring him with the paints he needed to be filled with color.  So I went heavy with the red.  It's a lot easier coloring Thump than L.B. because he is that red.  I found out that the watercolor paint dries into a different shade when it's wet.  So when I am trying to reach that blue tone for L.B. I have to make sure I don't go overboard with the blue because it will dry a lot darker than I want.  Laying on the thick red for Thump make his tone darker.  I learned to play with the paint when I first lay it down to give it depth and more form so it's not just a flat color like when I was producing the sketches with the felt tip pens.

Here's the final look for Thump and probably the last page I will tease as I start working on the covers and working on the text pages.  I will also be developing some promotional art and campaign goodies if I do decide to go live with this via kickstarter.  I will let you know on that progress.  Either way my goal is to have this book in your hands!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Characters with Heart pt. 1

Last week I talked about the origins and themes surrounding my new book, Heart.  This week I will properly introduce one of the main characters and show the evolution of the character design.

Here is the first sketch I ever drew:  As you can see, her name is L.B.  When I first drew the character I really liked the idea of seeing the construction lines.  I was on the right track but I figured it was too perfect. If that makes any sense to you.  So I decided I wanted to stray away a bit farther than what I was used to doing as this felt too comfortable to me.  It was definitely a good starting point though.

I liked the pen sketch so much that I thought about doing the entire book in Paper Mate pens.  I had a fear that it might be too hard to see in the final scan even though I could tweak it in Photoshop.  As I stated earlier I didn't want to rely to heavily on Photoshop work so I thought felt tip markers would be good.  I ended up with something like this:   


I really like this look because it kept the idea of seeing construction lines and keeping it loose. It made the drawing more simple which is what I wanted initially.  I felt that if I was going to do a book like this I would need something more surrounding the drawings.  I thought maybe if I did the entire book on a pink construction backdrop it would fill in the gaps of white within the character and it would give the pages some texture.  I got some construction paper and gave it a try:

When I got to this point I felt like I lost track and the pink back drop was a little hard on the eyes.  Plus the texture of the paper really didn't come through as well.  This process narrowed down what I wanted for the look of the book. I wanted to be able to see some of the line drawing, I wanted it simple but not perfect looking, and I wanted it to have some texture.  That's when I thought this book would be a perfect opportunity to try water color.  I've always been fond of the look of water color, but I wasn't into paints.  I am not very good with paint and I have no patience when it comes to waiting for it to dry.   I painted Batman in my nephew's room once and I found it a rather long process and difficult to master.  I figured water colors would be easier and not as messy.  I was wrong.

I bought a bunch of watercolor materials and tried my hand at it.  This was the first water color test of L.B. that I did:

I did not like it.  I was pretty frustrated right off the bat.  First off, I thought I would be a cool guy and use white out and all these other tools/pens but they seemed to be troublesome and added too much to a character I wanted to look simple.  I also didn't like the color of blue as it was too dark and didn't match the complexion of L.B. that I had in my head.  

I decided to use water color pencils to sketch out the characters first and mostly stick with the light blue pencil for L.B.'s color tone.  I also decided to nix the white out for the eyes and just leave it as the color of the paper.  I kept the ink brush for the eye lash and mouth.  I just had to train myself to ink those in last after the paint has dried.  I obviously wanted to try and achieve a less is more.  I sometimes get obsessed with filling in the gaps rather than letting them breathe and be a part of the drawing.  My second attempt looked like this:

I was a lot happier with this and I felt that I was back on track for the character.  I realized in doing this, her body got lost in the paint and she didn't really have a form anymore.  I made a mental note to stretch out the length of her body and to really exaggerate it for certain poses and positions.  This character is suppose to look quite different from everyone else (in the book) so I thought her being a bit taller would help with this.  I tried some more attempts before I arrived at this:

This image was the one.  It set the look for L.B. and my process for how to arrive at this with the paints.  I realized it was important to get much of the tone with one whole stroke before going over it again.  I would later learn how to blend better and get to what I wanted quicker.  

The challenge from this point on was to replicate this look for the remainder of the story and not completely get away from this first image.  It's been quite the learning experience but you can definitely see my progress with the water colors in the pages of the book.  I kind of like that as it reflects certain aspects of the story and of the character of L.B. 

Well that's all for now.  I hope you liked learning about my process a bit.  I have one more character to introduce as I go into the final stages of wrapping up so don't expect any more sweet images of Heart until it's released! 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Hearty Inspiration

Since the debut of the first teaser page for Heart.  I've been asked if the story is about Nicole and I.  The answer to that question is no.  Ok I'll admit that there is some inspiration / influence from her especially through it's last variations on the story but I've had this idea way before Nicole and I got together.  The earliest version of the story dates back to 2007 where it was barely a written story and just an idea about love and acceptance.  These ideas even date back further to when I was in high school.  Themes surrounding the book came from the feelings I felt of being separated from everyone and a bit lost with who I was as a young teenager.  I was just looking for the right outlet and right way to tell the story and it wasn't until later when I decided to write children's books that this simple idea started to become something.  So no the book is not about Nicole but its driven with a creativity that she can only spark. 

I like to draw / doodle in the cards I give Nicole for anniversaries, holidays, Tuesdays, or what have you.  Here is a doodle I did for her just after we started dating. It sort of was the genesis for the character(s) and the look of the book.  It would take me some more stabs at nailing down the design before deciding to go with water colors.  Cool, right?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Processes of the Heart

Last time I posted a page and revealed the title of my new book, Heart.  Today I will share some information on my style and process.  Since I am more of an illustrator than a writer, I tend to work backwards and thumb the pictures before I write the story.  I had a general idea of what I wanted the book to be about.  I had specific scenes in my head and drew those out first.  When I have enough key scenes in my head, I begin telling the story in between.  I work with pictures a lot and having a visual start than a literary one only helps when it comes to the writing process.

I start off with really rough sketches and then work out a rough draft from those.  I then thumb out the scenes on this storyboard concept paper I use.  It's a 8.5x11 paper with 16 squares per sheet.  As I work on the thumbnails,  whether it's adding or deleting squares, I am simultaneously editing the text.

When I feel that the beginning is solid enough or I have a good chunk to work from, I start making pages.  I got to a certain point and ended up putting the book on the back end.  Now that I am back to working on it, I did one more final draft and eliminated or added thumbnails to make the story flow better. 

At this point, I had two and a half sheets of thumbs to do. When I finished my final draft I was more than halfway done making pages. 

As for the look of the book, I decided to work with water colors.  I've never worked with water colors before and this was a style I felt fit the overall look of the book I had in my head.  It was a simple story that did not need complex Photoshop work. It took me awhile to adjust to using watercolors as I am impatient with anything that deals with paints.  To help me ease into it better, I would rough out my page with some watercolor pencils before going into it with the actual paints. When I run a brush over the pencils, they blend in with the paint and it becomes part of the final end result.  The more I get the hang of it, the faster I've been knocking out these pages.

And for your viewing pleasure, here is another look at Heart:

Monday, January 09, 2012

A look into the new!

It's a new year and I plan to make it a great one!  A while back I had this idea for a cute story.  A love story.  I got into the development process early.  I think I even mentioned it a few times on this very blog without really revealing a single thing.  I would talk about how it was not a WIWL story and I was trying new things with this book to help me develop as an artist.

I ran into problems where I was getting ahead of myself.  I was already thinking about how it was going to get printed when I didn't have anything to print.  I worried a lot about the end result, how well it would be received and if it would take me an arm and leg to produce.  I was thinking of who I could pitch it to, what publishers should I submit it to and if it's good enough to get accepted.  I got so caught up on the business end of making a book that the creative process never really got to shine.  So I refocused and just started making pages. I really dug what I was doing and I was nervous about it but in that excited way.  It was a different kind of story using different tools to tell it.  Then something truly amazing happened.

WIWL started to really find it's legs and I had such strong ideas for the series that I didn't want to slow down it's momentum.  I created When You Were Little and Coloring When I Was Little.  My convention appearances doubled and I got to meet with so many great comic and book creators.  I sat amongst some truly amazing artists.  Artists that I admire.  I chatted with kids who have read the books and really liked them.  I got a chance to develop a kid's drawing program based on the series.

All the while I had this little book in the back of my mind.  I never lost interest in it and I was a bit sad that I put it on the back burner for so long.  I decided as this year was coming to an end that I would finish this book.  I will worry about how I can get it out to the world, to you, when that time comes.  For now, I want to pick up where I left off and just finish making the pages. 

So here is a look at my new book.  It's called Heart.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Attack The Block

I have hear another #cardBOREDsketch of the film Attack The Block.  I used to compile lists of my favorite movies of the year but I've gotten real lazy over the last couple of years.  If I were to make a list, I would definitely put this movie on it.  It's these kind of films that really spark my creativity as an artist.  It makes you want to be better at your craft whether it's art, film, music, jazz dance...anything.  As long as you feel inspired by something.  Put that inspiration in your own art.  You should definitely check it out. 

Attack The Block by ~happyfestivus on deviantART

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Holiday sketch dump 1.3.12


I hope the holidays have been good to you all.  I always say with the coming of a New Year that I will try and post more often on here.  As the year progresses I basically post about the same amount every year.  Ah, well.  I do post on two other blogs, mind you so it's hard to keep up.  I've been quite busy since my last post which was after Mid Ohio Con.  I've been busy with my books and this past November held my first When I Was Little kid's event.  You can check that out here:  Drawing When I Was Little

I also penciled and colored an 8 page story for comics writer, Russell Lissau.  Russell has done work for Ape Entertainment and Reading With Pictures.  He presented a real fun story about a super villian for an indie anthology called Omega Comics Presents. This holiday season I was busy doing Signature Prints that people were giving out as gifts.  That made me feel awesome!  I also did another guest strip for Joe Loves Crappy Movies where I poke fun at The Dark Knight Rises Prologue.  Check it out here!

I created Nicole and I's first holiday card this year.  I took a lot of pictures with my phone while I was working on all these projects so I thought I'd share with you what I've been up to for the last two months.  Enjoy!

Also, for Christmas I got BONE: The Complete Epic so here's a cardBORED sketch I did recently.  I'm loving the series so far.  It is truly a work of art.