Wherein Woe is Expressed and a Mermaid Enters

Back to the pages. This one is different than The Frog Prince for me. For some reason, it was easy to come up with Moy Moy's expressions on computer. But for Gavin, I need to sketch it out first, scan it in, and trace it on screen. Every page I do this, while for The Frog Prince I think I drew 2 rough sketches for the whole book. I'm not sure why; maybe without a floor-length dress, the main character shows more body language, which I can render best in pencil first.

Below is an example from an upcoming page:

I like the looseness of pencil. But the bright colors and shapes are better for a toddler book, when it comes down to a finish.

The Joy of Computer Art

Ordinarily, I'm much more a fan of traditional art. I like getting in there and really working with the media, in a drawing sense even more than painting.

But sometimes, it's really great to have done something on computer.

The current story being a case in point. When I was in art school, David Macaulay spoke about the process of creating children's books. And what stuck with me the most was that the illustrator shouldn't draw the book from start to finish, because your facility with drawing the characters will improve as you go along. If you go from the beginning on, this change will be obvious to the reader. If you jump around so you've created the illustrations out of order, this isn't nearly as noticeable.

With my hand-drawn work, I've found this to be incredibly good advice.

Now to the computer part. I've definitely noticed that I'm doing this with the Woodcutter in this book. I've gotten into a way of drawing him that I really like. So when I went back to look at page one, I could see that the character was waaaay off. Features too small, head too round.

With traditional illustration, this would mean doing it all over again. On computer, I cut and pasted the head I liked, and now they all look consistent. Took all of five minutes. Glorious.

Here's a side-by-side comparison:


Out of the woods and back to the woodcutter

A couple more pages, with art advice by Serena again. Thanks to her pointing it out, I saw that I got a bit off style with the original pages 2 and 3. So not only are those are gone, but changing it made the story move along a lot quicker as well. So another round of thanks are due to my lovely wife.

Someday, as my delusions of grandeur assure me, when my fairy tale books are studied by doctoral students, I'll release the first drafts so people can see my working process. But here in reality, I'll just post these.


Sorry, Were Those Yours?

I was putting too much thought into this one, which made it seem like it would never get finished. So I just decided to do a little bit at a time. That way, I'd just play with it, instead of trying too hard. And then, after a couple weeks or so, when I went to work on it again, it looked finished. It just sort of happened, somehow.

Which seemed so highly improbable that I asked another artist I work with if he thought it looked finished, and he said yes as well.

So here it is. The picture of the little bird that caused Hansel and Gretel so much trouble. I'm going to start a witch picture in the same vein at some point, but I've really gotten going on "The Woodcutter and the Mermaid," so there will be a lot more pages of that up first.


The Woodcutter and the Mermaid – It Begins!

With the Woodcutter, of course. This is actually my second attempt at this first page. In the first one, I was trying to draw a caricature of my son Gavin, while keeping it in the same style. I made sure I worked it over and over, to get it as carefully crafted as I could.

Then, when I showed it to my wife, she said it had no life to it.

Now, this might sound like she's being critical, but as soon as she said it, I knew she was completely right. So I went back to the drawing board, thought happy instead of clever, and ended up with this sprightly fellow.

To sum up: these things are a lot more fun, thanks to Serena. But then again, everything is a lot more fun for the same reason, so no surprise there.