Recent Developments

As I’m currently busy with final artwork, I thought I’d take a different tack for this week’s post- rather than focus on a specific character and their development, I’d show you some more recent sketches and sculptures.

I’ve been looking more closely at ravens lately- though I wish I’d done it sooner. I’ve almost finished all the pencil outlines for the book, and I’ve realised that the ravens in the first three-quarters of the book look like dirty pigeons. The ones I’ve drawn more recently are looking much more accurate, because I’ve been looking at reference photos. Who would have thought that drawing from life was the way to go.

Here’s some studies and some final artwork for the ravens on page 28… (when pages have been tricky, I’ve sometimes been drawing the backgrounds and characters separately, then stitching them together with photoshop).

p28-20101024-ravens-scan

I’ve discovered that ravens have very complicated bodies, and their bodies look different all the time- they can hunch their back, pull their shoulders up, bob their head up and down- and then of course you have all the different movements involved in flying (and then, how to show those movements from different angles). Without reference photos I’d be stuffed.

Here’s another raven drawing- this guy goes on page 25.

raven

I’ve made another Josh sculpture too- I was having trouble getting his profile right, so I put this guy together. He’s more accurate than the previous sculptures I’ve done.

Knut-head-sculpture

At one point I was feeling very stuck- I didn’t know if what I was doing was good enough, and I was fussing over unimportant details. One of my illustrator buddies, Karen Blair, suggested I pull the stick out and draw with some charcoal. Here’s the result- it’s just over A3 size. After doing this sketch, things got a lot easier and much more fun. Cheers Karen.

Josh-charcoal-20100911

Charcoal helps me loosen up my drawing. Here’s a more realistic Westy sketch I did recently in charcoal.

Westy-commission-20100921

And finally, as a super special treat, here’s another sketch- but it’s not by me, it’s by Karen. It’s her take on Josh and Wolverine. Josh’s rosy cheeks looked a little like he’d spent too much time in the sun, hence the caption.

severe-sunburn-boy

Creating the character of Knut- part 5

I started attending a clay sculpture class in November 2008, the year before I started working on this picture book. I find clay a great medium to work with, especially for making models of characters. I’d made one sculpture of Knut already- the big-nose version- but I wanted to make an updated version.

Here’s the big-nose one:

big nose sculpture

and here’s the newer one, based on the ’round-cheek’ sketches:

round cheek sculpture

The head isn’t very big, it fits into the palm of your hand.

Then I started making the body over three sessions.

Firstly, I got the basic body parts in there. No detail at this stage.

sculpture-version-1
he looks a bit weird with no clothes on

I hollowed out a hole in the bottom of his head so that it could pivot on his neck. This kept the head stable.

The next time round, I added a base to give him stability, and I put in the details of some clothes.

sculpture-version-2
Much better with clothes I reckon

Then in the third session, I put in finer details- his fingers, the stitching and the wool on his ugg boots, and I shaped his shirt a bit.

sculpture-version-3
version 3- more detailed

I’ve left gaps in his hands to hold a sword and shield, and I’d like to make a model of Wolverine to sit beside him (that’s why the base isn’t symmetrical).

I’m glad I made his head separate, because I’d like to redo it. His face is a bit flat, and his nose and eyes are too high on his head. He also needs his viking helmet! Perhaps I’ll also make some cardboard armour.

So, that’s how the character of Knut developed. From next week, I’ll look at some of the other characters in the book.

Creating the character of Knut- part 2

The first version of Josh/Knut had a huge nose. I made a small clay sculpture which seemed to be cute… but when I translated it into drawings his nose was enormous.

sculpture and sketches
big-nose sculpture and sketches
big nose version image 1
You can pick your friends...
 big nose version image 2
...and you can pick your nose...
big nose version image 3
...but you can't pick your friend's nose.

His character was starting to come through here- alternately brave and afraid, with his faithful Viking dog Wolverine by his side. But the nose had to go, it’s far too big for a young boy.

Character design tip-
Did you know that our ears and noses continue to grow for our whole lives? Babies and kids have small ears and noses compared to their head size, but older people have much bigger noses and ears. If you draw a character with big ears and a big nose, it will make them seem older. Unless of course your character is a baby elephant. In this case I’d recommend making their eyes much bigger than usual. The babies of all animals have bigger eyes than the adults, compared to their head size. Except those blind cave fish, they don’t have any eyes. And tadpoles, they’ve got tiny eyes. And… sorry where was I?

Right, yes, I was getting rid of Knut’s big nose.

The next version of Knut is the ‘pointy-chin’ version, you can see his nose is much smaller:

pointy-chin-version-detail

I’ll show you some more of this version next week, including an early watercolour sample.