Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Art Lesson: Thumbnails, a Form of Protection


Where would we be without our thumbnails?  We would be in pain and misery, that's where we would be.  Our fingers would be wrapped in band-aids and nothing would ever get done.  And that is the same place we would be without thumbnail sketches!  Okay, maybe our fingers wouldn't be covered with band-aids, but we would be in pain and misery trying to complete an interesting drawing or painting.  Thumbnail sketches are very valuable to the botanical or representational artist.  It is in the thumbnail sketch (a small simple line drawing exploring composition and shapes) that:
- helps the artist explore the most effective and interesting view of their subject
- captures the energy of the first ideas behind the final composition
- defines the proportion of the final composition, and
- informs the artist what they need to observe, research or explore more deeply before investing lots of time into a project

I always first explore my compositions with thumbnail sketches, often done during boring meetings at work, and then expand them from there.  To see an example of a book cover developed from a one inch sketch, click here.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Illustration: Book Cover - Bartholomew Makes a Decision

Here are images showing the progression for creating the cover for the first tale of The Book of  Bartholomew.  The first two sketches are my first ideas of what I wanted to paint: a plate of corn, green beans and kale.  The first is very rough and was only about 1.25" square.  The second image represents another plate of food with the words "KNOCK, KNOCK" on the cover.  This is because Bartholomew is interrupted during his meal by a knock at the door. All Bartholomew wants to do is find some decent food and once he sits down to eat he is interrupted by the phone and the door.

Then it was time to do some research. This meant enjoying a few meals of corn, geen beans and kale.  I cooked the kale once and the other time my girlfriend cooked it.  Hers was much better.  We cooked the food and then I went to work rearranging it on the plate to somehow match what I wanted to do.  I did not find my final composition, but it was fun and informative for the final painting.  The food was good.  I wish the green beans were from my garden.  Today I could pick them and use them, but when I painted this picture beans were not in season.

I used these images to layout the composition of the painting and made the first layer of paint on canvas. From there I built up the surfaces and colors to create a finished painting of a plate of kale, corn and green beans.  The cooked kale was the hardest to paint.  It was hard to get a focused picture of it as its edges are rather soft and difficult to pick out.
After completing the painting, I took the image to Photoshop and added the words KNOCK KNOCK and the title. This was a fun stage - turning a painting into a book cover

The next step was to create a background for the inside text pages of the story. Continuing with a food theme, I created drawings of forks and spoons. These images line the text pages and are faded behind the text. This was a very fun story to illustrate.  I like the idea of not showing Bartholomew or Gerald, but letting the reader develop their own physical image of the characters.