Environment Concept pt. Deux

A slight expansion on the farm house concept. As I mentioned in the previous blog post I felt like the house didn’t look abandoned enough and that I would rectify that and I think this goes at least part of the way to doing that. It was also a good exercise in drawing an object from different points of view and you realise house three-dimensional (both literally and figuratively) world building can be. I did a quick sketch this morning how the building might look from this view-point and even added a dormer as part of the roof, but figured less is more. I added the broken-down truck (based on my friends C10 Chevy that he’s restoring) to add that classic American rural vibe to the world. I’ll tackle some more of the project tomorrow, maybe another angle or maybe some more character designs.

Cheers

Matt

The Magic Cloak

Final spread (unless a publisher wants to approach me for a full book… hint, hint). To be honest all these pages have been very rough and the character design pretty elementary. There’s a definite Disney aesthetic to all the pages which wasn’t initially intentional, but certainly was in the last two spreads.

So what next? I think the background work in this one has been pretty weak, so I might attempt something with a greater emphasis on the environment that the characters live in…

Cheers

Matt

Redo

After finishing the spread yesterday (bottom picture) and looking at it again this morning I couldn’t help but notice a few things that needed changing, so I’ve faffed about all day redoing the piece (top picture). Here’s what was wrong;

Firstly, Freyja’s right arm is massive! Look at the size of that monster! So I rescaled it so she would look more human.

Second, another Freyja issue was her features. The eyes, eyebrows, nose and mouth just seemed a bit odd and not quite in perspective, so again I corrected this and added white to the eyes.

Third was the trees. They seemed to lack any real texture and seemed a tad desaturated, so I found some old ink markings I made a while ago and applied those to combat the issue.

Fourth. Character shadows and highlights. I was going to avoid adding either of these but thought I’d add some bounce light from the snow and a bit of ambient occlusion. The problem is it looks a bit airbrushed now, so I might have to make another tweak.

Fifth. The writing was huge! I get that it’s a kids book so the text is meant to be big, but Christ! Resized it. Looks better.

I also changed the colour of the birds. This wasn’t really a problem, I just wanted to see what they’d look like white, and they certainly blend less with Thor. Added some icicles as well just for good measure.

If I’m honest I’m not over the moon with this spread. I think the main issue is that I find square compositions tricky to illustrate. I’ve noticed that many illustrators, when working with square compositions, either break the page up into two or three separate illustrations or they make the main focal point dead centre, so this is something I will bear in mind going forward.

Cheers

Matt

Kids Book Spread Concept

Double page spread for a possible kids book about the Norse god Freyja taming the boar Hildisvini. This is only a rough spread, but I do like how it’s looking. I tried to stay away from adding cast shadows and strong light because I think the colours work quite well and Freyja and the boar pop really well against the background. In case you’re wondering, the boar is meant to be the size of a horse because in the mythology Freyja rides him.

The text is just something I thought up super quickly and is by no means how it would read in the finished piece, it’s just to give publishers/agents an idea of where the text for the spread would sit.

I’ll keep rolling with this project until I’ve finished a couple more pages, so hopefully that won’t take more than half a week.

Cheers

Matt

Ice to Meet You

This was a fun one to do. The previous illustration I posted felt like it was missing something and I didn’t want to make the same mistake twice. I was originally going to have a large troll (this is set in Norway after all) standing just to the left hand side of the house with his nads out, totally oblivious. I messed around and decided to make it a snow scene and it seemed natural to have something huge frozen in the ice. I might do another two of these “frozen dinosaur” scenes just to make a trilogy. Stay tuned.

Late Night Deli

Just a quick study today. This one, unlike so many others, didn’t cause me any stress. I kept things super simple and didn’t go too crazy with the detailing. I found with this piece that I was initially drawing everything too precisely, so I had to go back and “correct” the shapes and proportions so they were wrong, which sounds weird to say, but it adds to the style. This is another place in NYC. I’ll probably get off the New York hype train at some point, but I just love the buildings! Enjoy!

Under the Rug

I’m not sure why, but this one took ages to get right. Above is the final version, and funnily enough it was also the first idea I had. However, as is often typical when planning pieces, I go through a series of roughs first in order to find something that is perhaps more well thought out or clever. I tried a version where the tower is on fire in an attempt at irony, but it didn’t sit well compositionally (I’m not even sure if that’s a word). I tried adding an FBI undercover van and entitling the piece “Who Watches the Watchtowers?”, but I wasn’t sure without the title whether people would get it. I tried adding a pile of used fire extinguishers – nope, then a caveman trying to make fire – also nope. I almost settled on someone carving Easter Island heads (they’re called Moai, so wikipedia tells me) from the rocks, but I thought people would try to read into the connection between the fire watchtower and the heads (there isn’t one by the way), so I scrapped the idea. I eventually settle on my first rough because it fit the series of illustrations I’d done previously. The best ideas I have usually come fully formed, but every now and again I really have to try and try, and it can be incredibly frustrating, and I just have to settle on a piece because if I don’t it’ll never get finished and I’ll never draw anything ever again… ever. A tad melodramatic perhaps. Anyway, I settled on this idea and I’m not sure what I think of it yet. I hope you enjoy it.

Cheers

Matt

A Question about Originality

I’m enjoying doing these pieces. I believe they’re getting more and more refined as I do them, and rightly so; practice makes perfect, and all that. The majority of the illustration is a replication of an existing photograph, albeit my take on said photo. Because I’ve essentially copied a photo and just added some bits of my own, the question arises, “is true artistic originality possible?”

A site called Deviant Art did an interview with an artist a couple of years ago in which the illustrator claimed their art was original and not inspired or influenced by anything or anyone. I found this answer odd, because the artist used ink and watercolours to paint popular landmarks – surely then, they were inspired in some way by the landmarks themselves? Also, without some outside influence or inspiration, how was the choice of ink and watercolours made? As someone who has been making art for a while now, I know how vital the work of others (be that film, music, paintings, etc…) and the reference I use has been to my growth.

At the time of reading the interview I felt angry that someone would claim they were entirely original and uninspired in anyway, but as I processed what this person said, I came to two conclusions; one – they were wrong and the very work they had produced was a contradiction to their statement; two – true originality is a myth. That’s not to say something can’t be original in terms of being unique, but to create something that hasn’t been inspired or influenced in some way is impossible.

Anyway, thanks for reading my opinion on that. I was just going to talk about my process again, but I thought this might be a little more interesting. And as always, I hope you enjoy the work I’ve made. Cheers.

Making things hard for myself

The above illustration is actually only the top half of a larger image. As far as composition goes I think this is an improvement on the original (see below). The reason for this is the reduced colour palette and the shape of the canvas. A limited colour palette tends to bring a piece together more harmoniously; there’s fewer colours to clash against each other and the use of values is more noticeable, thus you can be more subtle with their use.

As for the canvas shape/size, the key difference from the original is that the focal point for the viewer is much more clear – your eye is drawn to the window cleaner; he is in that right third (a compositional mainstay), and he stands out very clearly.

The image below is the original. While it’s not an awful picture, I do think there is a bit too much going on. It’s also not clear where the eye should be led, and I think it’s fair to say that the window cleaner stands out a lot less in this version despite the colours remaining the same. Suffice to say it would’ve taken probably less than half the time to complete this had I just painted the top half – you live and learn. I could be totally wrong of course, so feel free to let me know what you think in the comments. As always, enjoy!