Sunday, October 3, 2010

Bowers by the Banks

I just returned from a terrific book event. The Cincinnati USA Book Festival, Books by the Banks, was held on Saturday with over 100 national, regional and local authors (and illustrators) present.
 It was a great day of signing books and making new friends from the Cincy area and northern Kentucky. My featured book was Memoirs of a Goldfish, written by Devin Scillian (published by Sleeping Bear Press).

Even before the artwork was created, I cracked up with laughter when I read the manuscript. It's a really cute and funny story. The characters were a lot of fun to develop, including Mr. Bubbles- the deep sea diver, Mervin- the slime eating snail and Fred- the unsocial crab, among others. Each illustration was painted with acrylic paint on 3-ply Stathmore bristol. Here is an image from an interior page of the book.

It was done in a technique that I've used for years on various projects and is one I'd like to share. The example below was created for Sunrise Greetings as a Father's Day card. I always begin with a sketch of the idea. Sometimes that goes through several revisions before a design is selected and I can begin painting the final art.

After the sketch has been approved, I transfer a line drawing to my board, including crop marks and a bleed area (which is the art that extends beyond the crop marks).  

 When the line drawing is complete, I lay in areas of local color with thin acrylic washes. 

 Then I start to render areas, adding texture, dimension and depth to the flat areas of the design. 

I do this with additional layers of thin acrylic washes, dry-brush and scumbling techniques.

When most of the rendering of the image is complete, I add any other details that I feel would enhance the painting, including a bit of glazed color (as seen on the rosey cheeks of this little guy) and highlights (as seen on the eyes... my favorite part to paint). 

That's pretty much it.  I start with washes and add more opaque paint as I near the finish.  I've had a lot of fun painting this way and it's a pretty straight forward technique. Try it and see what you come up with.  Have fun!

So, I'm back from Cincy and ready to tackle another book project (which will be a future blog topic). It was great to hang with my illustration buddies from Cincinnati, including C. F. Payne, Loren Long, Will Hillenbrand and John Maggard (who came up with this years excellent poster design). I had to travel all the way to southern Ohio to meet a fellow Columbus area illustrator, Steve Harpster. It was a great weekend... now, back to the drawing board.