Sometimes when you’re tired, you do and say dumb things and then you *facepalm* and groan and hope you didn’t screw up too badly. I really need to get the littlest Jaegerling’s sleep schedule and my own to be better aligned (he’s two. what can I say?).
Anyway, Penguin childrens’ book art director and mentor Giuseppe Castellano hosted a #twitterclass where he gave some really great twitter critiques of every illustration submission he received between 9 and 10pm. I was tired and had found out about the “class” 5 minutes before it began so I was more focused on quickly finding something recent and remotely critique-worthy to post than editing my tweet to say exactly what I meant. I wrote “Still working towards style.” By “style” I really meant a flow, an ease of technique and process. I didn’t mean my own personal voice. It was a poor choice of word. *Facepalm.* Mr. Castellano referred me to his blog post on style (which I had already read) that’s pretty much about why he dislikes the word.
After I got over feeling stupid, I read the rest of the critique tweet. Mr. Castellano also mentioned that my drawing looked too outlined and that the colored pencil wasn’t working well with the paper. True and true. I have been using cheaper materials, working on the theory that if I could make something nice with cheaper materials, I should be able to make something even better with GOOD materials. I also wanted to make sure I even wanted to continue with pencils and explore the feel of other brands before I invested a hundred or so dollars in a standard Prismacolor set.
I do have other materials in my cabinets, though. So I dug out some Bristol and unearthed a set of Mitsubishi colored pencils that someone (probably my artist aunt) had given me years ago, grabbed a sketchbook, and set to work on a pice for the SCBWI “Draw This” monthly challenge for October.
I only left myself 2 days to produce something so I challenged myself Project Runway style. Make something work. The challenge word is “Enchanted.” Go.
Because I’ve been focusing on my process (and not because this is a masterpiece by any stretch), I’m going to step through what I did to create this piece. I welcome any professional advice on the media and my process because I’m still learning by doing (and probably always will be). This piece reflects some of the skills I’ve been working on in my #100DaysOfSimple project. I’m working faster, a little looser, and with a little more line efficiency than I had been previously.
I don’t remember why but I had been looking at some Erte prints recently so I felt a little deco-inspired. Not sure why I picked Cinderella but that’s what came to mind. I deemed my third sketch satisfactory. The rest of my procedual notes are in the captions of the slideshow below.
Original messy pencil sketch. Conceptually, I also wanted to give a nod to the “Upstairs/Downstairs” theme of Cinderella’s story. So the prince is above and Cinder is below running past the servant’s entrance.
“Inked” over the background in Adobe Flash to help keep it simple.
Light-table hand-inked the characters and composited them in Photoshop. I had wanted to keep the inks and color beneath them but printing back to Bristol didn’t keep the sharpness of the line. I was losing too much detail on Cinder. I later discovered that it was the scanner, not the printer where I was losing quality. Lesson learned.
So I gave up on keeping the inks and instead, printed them at 10% opacity on Bristol to color over them.
The finished, uncropped, version. No ink lines at all. Still learning. I think I still need to push lights and darks a little more and work on shadows. But all in all, not bad. I decided to call it “done” before I overworked it trying to “fix” things. Though in the age of digital, everything can be revisited.