Monday, October 24, 2011

Another Sketchbook Finished.


I finally got to the last page of my sketchbook. This one took a little longer to complete with all the distractions I had recently. I like being able to look back at it and see where I have grown. I think this sketchbook has changed some of the ways I approach watercolor. I'm not as afraid to mess one up by playing with the paint a bit, working into wet areas as well as glazing one color over another. I think I need to look for a heavier paper though. these sketchbooks are 80 lb, something heavier would stand up better to corrections and lifting paint up.

 The subway sketch on the left was quickly sketched in pencil and the paint was added latter when I got home.
The watercolor I did of battery park bellow was done the same way.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Another Illustration Assignment

Working on an illustration assignment, a new picture book and a new website has kept me busy for sometime, Unfortunately I haven’t been able to post anything lately because I’ve been so busy.

I will post the new illustration assignment after it is printed. For now I will post an illustration I did a while back for Guide Magazine. I tried something new with this assignment. I created all the elements of the illustration separately and then put them together in Photoshop by cutting and pasting them in the program. I wanted to see if this could be a faster way of working. It allowed me to work quickly and to easily make changes in the artwork. I was able to move the images around, resize them or change color and value right in the program. Since each element was on a different layer I could change one area without affecting the others.

The first two images show the artwork done in pen and ink and watercolor on paper then scaned into Photoshop. I used the lasso tool to select the image then copied and pasted it onto a new page with a transparent background, cleaned it up by removing the white around the image so that the image is floating on the page.

 Here I put all the elements together in separate layers and moved them around and resized them till I'm satisfied with the arrangement. I will still move them around as the illustration develops.

Here I start to work on the background unifying the picture and working any rough or unwanted edges into the background.

 This close up shows how I worked in the smoke from the explosion into the background.
 On the left  the picture is nearly finished. having done all the different parts as separate drawings on 8.5 X 11 sheets of paper allowed me to work quickly on the final image in Photoshop, at least for this illustration in which the background was uncomplicated.
I first save the image as a Photoshop document, preserving all the layers just in case I need to make anymore changes I then save it as a jpeg image.

I bring back the jpeg into a separate Photoshop document and tweak the contrast and the levels till I get what I want. Like everything I do I have to live with it for a while before I decide how I feel about the final image, to decide whether or not this way of working was a success and if I will use it again.

Here is the final illustration.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Creating Picture Books/ Adventures In Self Publishing In The Digital Age

I love telling stories. When my oldest son was 5 years old I started creating picture books for him about these cartoon dinosaur characters I made up. I would put the books together using the copiers on my job and give them to him. I was very happy to see that he liked them enough to take them to school with him. I made two more stories about the same characters, though I never got to finish all the illustrations for the last story.

I got lots of compliments from people who saw the books so I printed out a few more, even sold some.

When my son grew older I wrote another story that matched his age. He loved that one too and I went all out on the illustrations on that one. I liked the idea, it was about a kid who tried to imagine what it would be like to have a dinosaur as a pet. I thought the story had a sense of humor and I worked hard on the illustrations, working and reworking them till I got what I thought was the very best I could do.

The printed book was done on quality paper. The first version was in black and white pen and ink drawings with some gray tones. Later I colored the drawings in photoshop. Friends who are illustrators and writers encouraged me to take the book around to publishers but I never found a publisher for the book, ( although  I probably just gave up to easy). I tried self publishing but the final price of the book was to high to expect for anyone to purchase it. After a time I pretty much gave up on the idea of publishing.  I had a few other ideas that I wanted to also publish but those were dashed as well.

 Recently I decided to try and create an e book out of the pet dinosaur idea. At first I did it for myself but then I considered how much has changed in the publishing world. Electronic editions of books are selling very well and cost nothing to make. If you have the right software, you cut out the printer and the distributor so that the creator only split’s the cost with the bookstore. How wonderful. It makes it hard to understand why some e books are priced so high, although at $1.99 I think I priced my first book to low but what’s done is done.

The e picture book can be purchased at the Barnes and Noble website, (I have plans for putting it on i Tunes and Amazon as well).

I also decided to rework the first ideas I had and sell them as e books as well. The illustration bellow is the first one for the next story, "Catch the Moon".