Monday, April 30, 2012

What Makes You Jump?

"Jump" was this week's 'Illustration Friday' word and I had quite a bit of fun coming up with ideas.  Since I couldn't decide which idea I liked the best (and since I was also looking for a way to procrastinate working on another project), I actually ended up doing three interpretations.

My first idea was to see if I could make the word itself into things that seemed to be jumping. My first sketch was with letters shaped like people, but I couldn't get that idea to work, so I tried it with animals. The "J" duck, the "U" fish and the "M" dog came easily but I had a hard time coming up with something for the "P." First, I tried a Giraffe, but, even with it's long neck, it wouldn't cooperate.  When I thought about the elephant and it's trunk, I knew I had my solution.

My next idea was inspired by my dog.  Fortunately she doesn't have fleas, but she does scratch herself once in a while, which gave me the idea for this drawing. Fleas are powerful jumpers.  I think I read somewhere, that a flea's jumping ability, if it were translated to a human equivalent would be like a man jumping over a building.  I actually did two versions of this drawing.  In my first one, I sketched the dog very quickly and though I liked its face, the body seemed too rigid and stiff. I was going to go with it anyway until at breakfast this morning my dog began scratching and I could see all of the problems with my original pose.  So, I tackled it again.  I've put the two of them side by side so that you can see the difference.  The one on the left is my first attempt.  On the right is my final version.  You can see I decided to add some more fleas. I also changed their size and the color of their trajectory lines.

I hadn't planned to do a third interpretation but this idea came to me this afternoon and it seemed too great to pass up. I did it fairly quickly, in just under an hour, using Painter 12's 'real' watercolor brushes. I think anyone who's gone to see a good scary movie can identify with what it's like to almost jump out of your seat when an unexpected scare is sprung on the audience. I wanted this illustration to have a spontaneous and 'alive' look to it, so I didn't do much in the way of cleaning up the watercolor.  I used 4 or 5 layers and painted in the dark blue gray first.  I like the way it sort of pooled into dark spots behind the figures, almost as if the light from the movie they're watching is casting a shadow behind them.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Illustration Friday - Heights

Giraffes see the world from great heights, which is why I chose it as my subject for this week's 'Illustration Friday' challenge which this week is the word "Heights."

I've been playing around lately with Painter 12's watercolor brushes. I've also been using some brushes that I downloaded from Skip Allen's Painter tutorial blog. Whenever I get a chance I try and do a quick illustration where I experiment with the various brushes. This week's 'Illustration Friday' illustration is the result of one of those experiments.
I started this illustration by painting in a background and then creating a new layer where I drew a pencil sketch of the giraffe (see below). I wanted the giraffe to appear to be stretching up into the sky, the tallest thing around, but in my original sketch, he seemed kind of lonely.  Not only that, but the image seemed rather boring.

I decided I wanted to have something at the giraffe's eye level, so on another layer I sketched in a flying bird.  To emphasize the giraffe's height, I decided to have him towering over some shrubs. To paint the giraffe's body, I created another layer and, using one of the soft chalk brushes, filled in the body's shape in a light tan. Above that layer, I placed a new watercolor layer where I painted his spots.  On yet another layer, I used some sketchy pen brushes to draw in his eyes and also to add a few lines to his face and legs.

Next, on a separate layer, I played around with adding another tree.  But when I added the large tree, suddenly the giraffe didn't seem so tall, so I got rid of it. I also ended up changing the foliage underneath the giraffe. It originally looked too dark and thick, so I thinned it out a bit and lightened the color.
As you can see in the final image (see below), I ended up flipping the bird horizontally over to the right side of the giraffe. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Illustration Friday - Puzzled

Another Friday has come and gone and with it, another 'Illustration Friday' challenge. This week the word is "Puzzled." For some reason, this word made me think of that scene in Disney's "Dumbo," where the little elephant wakes up after his accidental drinking binge and discovers that he is up in a tree.  Of course he's puzzled by this, how in the world did he get himself up a tree? Of course the audience knows that he flew up into the tree with his gigantic wing-ears.  Anyway, my dog is obsessed over squirrels and I know she would do anything if she could get up in a tree to catch one.  I know I would certainly be puzzled if I went out into our yard and found her sitting up in a tree.  So that's where I got my inspiration for this week's word.

Lately, I've been doing some experimenting with Painter 12's real watercolor brushes which is what I ended up using to create the finished artwork. By the way, you can click on the image to see it larger. I did several sketches before I finally got the dog and the little boy the way I imagined them.  My progression of sketches is below.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Illustration Friday - Vocal

My first thought for the word 'Vocal,' which is this week's "Illustration Friday" challenge was of someone singing or yelling.  When I sat down to start sketching I began to draw a little boy.  During my lunch break, just prior to beginning this drawing, I had watched an early episode of "The Andy Griffith Show," and my drawing ended up looking like Opie Taylor as played by a very young Ron Howard. When I realized I was turning him into Opie, I googled the character and came up with a reference photo of Opie singing (or maybe he's yelling, though I don't recall too many episodes where Opie yelled). Anyway, I used the photo as a guide for the mouth, but as you can see I made some changes. I gave my boy, a gap in his teeth and I decided to have his eyes open.  I also turned his head slightly.

Below are a couple of early pencil sketches.  As I worked on the image, I decided the composition needed something else so I added a dog, which I based on a photo of my own dog, Poppy. The pencil sketches, as well as the finished illustration were done using Painter 12.

First sketch
Sketch after some clean up and shading