“How To” Library series published by The Child’s World.
I thought it might be fun show you a little behind the scenes look at a few of the children’s book illustrations I did for this series of “How To” library books. You might have noticed that one of the sketches still shows the colored line technique I used to use when I sketched on paper. It’s an old art guy trick I picked up many years ago while working with Disney designed to save time. I still find it useful even though I have drawn a sketch on paper in years. These days I sketch exclusively in Photoshop using a big honking Cintiq tablet. Not being able to zoom in on my sketch seems ridiculous. I image in a few short years as new technology replaces the desktop work station we’ll look back and wonder how we ever got along without it.
I’ve been trying some new stuff for the last month or so here at the studio and I think it’s about time to let the cat out of the bag. For many years I worked traditionally, mostly with watercolor and airbrush. I don’t really miss the airbrush, that thing was a crazy amount of work and to be honest Photoshop just does a better job. The watercolor though, that’s a whole different story. I love the spontaneity of working in watercolor but trying to capture that look and feel digitally has been a challenge. I could never really get the subtle variations I wanted so it inevitably wound up on the back burner saved for another time. I supposed I could have just dragged out my old set of Winsor Newtons and scanned them but I really wanted to see if I could make this happen digitally. Here’s a little peak at what I’ve been up to. I’m pretty happy with the direction things are headed. Hopefully, as I get used to the brushes and how to mimic the translucency that make watercolor so special, things will only get better.
I had planned to put up something different today but instead because this issue is so important I’m bumping my regularly scheduled post to run this video interview. I would like to give a special thanks to artist Will Terry for allowing me to show his interview on the site today. Also thanks to Brad Holland for all his valuable information. Unfortunately as you’ll see I’m a little late getting on board but there is still time to act.
Our copyright laws here in the United States may be changing soon and if you don’t think these issues will have an effect on you or your business, think again. These are sweeping changes that will eliminate many of the protections we as artists have come to rely on. Unfortunately there is not a lot of internet coverage on this important issue right now. You won’t find it in the news and you won’t hear people talking about it. Many artists are completely unaware that something this important is even being discussed.
Last week artist Will Terry posted an interview he did with the legendary Brad Holland. Brad and Will do an excellent job covering the topics and spelling out just how damaging these new laws may be if passed. If you are an artist or know someone who is, please take time to watch this video and see how these new laws could change the way you do business for years to come. There are only a couple of days left to let your voice be heard. If you’d like to get involved please share this video and follow the links posted below. The deadline for letting your voice be heard is this Thursday July 25th.
VIDEO: An Evening with Bruce Lehman
Webcast presentation from Society of Illustrators (SI)
New York – February 21, 2008
Sponsored by ASIP And SI
Q & A about illustrators’ reprographic rights and their right to remuneration. http://www.asip-repro.org/resources.html
Orphan Works Roundtable
Conducted by the Small Business Administration
Salmagundi Art Club, New York, NY
Initiated by the Illustrators’ Partnership of America, the Artists Rights Society and the Advertising Photographers of America, and conducted by Tom Sullivan, Director of the Office of Advocacy of the US Small Business Administration. This was the first effort to assess the economic impact of the Orphan Works Acts H.R. 5889 and S. 2913 on creators and small businesses. Seventeen distinguished panelists spoke, all freelance working artists and stakeholders who would be directly impacted by this proposed legislation. Six 3’x4’ exhibit panels demonstrated orphan work infringements.
Presenters submitted written statements to IPA after the meeting. We compiled these into notebooks and distributed 14 notebooks of SBA Orphan Works Roundtable statements to key members of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees.
Most people point their cameras up when there taking photos. Lately I’ve been pointing mine down. I find the best textures live on or near the ground. I’m sure my neighbors think I’ve lost it when they see me taking pictures of my driveway but I don’t care because I know it’s going to make an excellent texture for my next piece of art.
There are lots of different ways to add visual interest to a digital file. I’ve been inspired by the some of the unique art I’ve been seeing on Instagram lately. Lots of textures and lots of originality. It seems as though the pendulum has begun to swing in the direction of a more organic look these days. Adding texture is a great way to great way to add visual interest and create a unique signature. The trick is figuring out how some of it is done and that’s the focus right now.
I’ve worked with adding simple textures in the past but I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface when I look at some of the artists I’ve been following. This month I plan to dig in a little deeper and see if I can come up with some solutions of my own. At the same time I’ll be attempting to solve some of the problems I ran into earlier with my textures. I noticed some of the blending modes I used earlier made my art skew a little darker than I would have liked. I’d also like to see if I can find a way to add more vibrant colors to my textures at the same time.
My early attempts focused mainly on Photoshop but now I’m looking into Illustrator. The technique is slightly more complicated with Illustrator because, as you know, Photoshop offers the ease of using clipping masks where Illustrator does not. The art shown here involves two different textures placed on top of the original art using different blending mode for each. I’m pretty happy with whats going on in this illustration but for my next attempt I’d like to try and push the envelope a little further. Stay tuned for more updates.
If you’d like to see a demo of the Photoshop techniques I use just check out this video:
Every once and a while I climb up into the attic and grab a bunch of stuff to haul off to the Goodwill store or the recycling bin. Sometimes I get lost up there and start dragging out old boxes full of memories (think Chevy Chase, Christmas vacation). Today I found one full of old disks and drives. Most of them were CD’s or DVD’s but I found a couple Zip Drives in there too. Why I save those I have no idea, it’s not like technology is suddenly going to reverse itself. Anyhow this pile of disks was from many years ago right after I bought my second MAC. I think it was a Power Mac G3… one of those blue/green ones. It was about the coolest thing since sliced bread and I was right on the cutting edge when I got it. Leafing through the disks I found one labeled Rugrats. I had almost completely forgotten about this project but it was a huge milestone in my career.
I had only been using Photoshop for only a couple on months when the Rugrats book Back Off, Bully Boys came into the studio. Up until then it had pretty much been just Illustrator or by hand. If I remember correctly the publisher was specifically requesting digital artists. There weren’t a lot of artists offering digital at the time so it left a big opportunity those of us who were. Wow, have things changed since then but I think if there’s one thing to be learned it’s that there is always opportunity for those willing to put themselves out in front. I certainly wasn’t the first to offer digital illustration by any means but I was ahead most other artists at my agency and many others outside as well.
Digital art is pretty much required these days and if you had told me back then I would be teaching Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign now I would have told you that you were crazy. Digital has gone through quite a few changes over the years. Things have gotten much easier for users but at the same time the competition has grown very intense as well. Artists who don’t know digital art find themselves a tremendous disadvantage with the gap widening every year. The odd thing is that the industry, always looking for something new, seems to have come full circle and what’s old is whats new. In other words the slick highly polished look that comes so easily to digital art is less in demand today. Publishers seem to be leaning toward things that are digital but don’t look digital. So how does an artist find that look? Textures, brushes, combining digital with traditional, all of the above, none of the above?… it’s all out there for those willing to jump out in front and make it happen and lead the way.