The Evolution of an Illustration

I thought you all would find it interesting to see how the illustrations for Cheeper are coming along. I am currently spending the most time on finishing the illustrations, as well as some more in-depth final editing of the story.

My primary tools are a charcoal drawing pad (11×17), charcoal pencils (soft and medium), a blender (actually, I prefer my finger over this), and a charcoal stick. Oh, I forgot to mention my favorite tool: Bing Images! Yes, I use Bing to find photographs to reference when I’m not sure how to draw something (such as a robin singing, a person working in the garden from the overhead angle).

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Oh! One more “tool” that I really enjoy employing–X-box music. Music and art go together, and it always seems easier to do one when you have the other.

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Now here are the stages of the illustrations. This one is Cheeper in the tree in the spring. In the background you will see myself and my mother laboring in the garden while Cheeper sings his heart out above.

Step one for me is to sketch a rough draft of the foreground. Once I have the basic outline completed, I begin to fill in the details, usually beginning with the focal point (in this case, the bird).

Next step is to fill in a rough draft of the background.

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And again, more detail.

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My goal for these illustrations is to make the focal point and the things closest in the foreground the darkest in shade, while the things in the background are lighter in shade.

More detail goes into the background then, along with more refining of the foreground.

At this point I could have called it good and finished. However, there seemed to be something missing from the right side. The left side seemed done, while the right side had something missing. Now, I don’t care what other people think of my illustrations–but I have to be satisfied with them before I consider them finished. You might call me a perfectionist, but that’s not quite the right label. I might have a full knowledge that a certain image is not perfect, but if it meets my personal expectations and I am satisfied with it, then that’s when I call it done.

So, after consulting a friend, we came to the conclusion that the right side needed some more shading to balance it with the left side. After a little more work, here is the finished product.

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I may still add some texture to the person on the right’s sweater, and maybe some more detail to the grass between the garden and the woods.

There you have it! That’s the stages that most of my illustrations go through. Do you have any pointers or tips for me?

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