Sunday, October 27, 2013

Children's Book Illustration: The Language of Birds

So as some of you may know I have been taking the amazing Make Art that Sells Course with Lilla Rogers. This weeks focus was on children's book illustration which has always been dear to my heart since I love reading and I love stories told in words and pictures. Some of my favorite art of all time are actually illustrations.

Due to a busy work schedule, I had one day to complete this art mission: Illustrate a spread or a cover for a Russian folk tale called the Language of Birds. While reading it, a few images captured my imagination. One of Ivan sleeping in the little boat that his distrustful parents pushed out to see and the other of Ivan climbing a tree to protect a baby bird from thunderstorm. I decided to go with the second image because it embodied a sweet compassion, a connection to nature and literally a light of goodness in the darkness of the storm. I wanted my illustration to capture this essential kindness and the peace that comes with helping other as well as a sense of magic that all fairy tales have.

I started looking for inspiration from my favorite vintage illustrators such as Kay Nielsen, Edmund Dulac, and the russian illustrator, Ivan Bilibin. I also wanted light and color to play a part in creating the mood and meaning.

My Inspiration Board: Notice how light plays a crucial role

Down and Dirty Ideas and Layout

Next, I created a quick thumbnail sketch. Usually, I would make a bunch of these but since time was of the essence, I just took the leap with my first one.

Then, I made a line drawing on watercolor paper. This part was somehow the most nerve-racking - facing the blank page and knowing I didn't have time for too much trial and error.
Pencil Drawing to create the composition before I paint

Time for the fun to begin - Painting the watercolor. I love this part because it is always experimental and somehow emotionally soothing. Watching the paint bleed into the water is mesmerizing like watching the waves or a fire. I painted all the foreground elements first and then painted in the stormy sky. I knew I wanted the sky dark and the trees glowing with an inner light, so I painted in that order so the dark colors wouldn't bleed into the light areas.
Watercolor Painting: Light, Color Palette, and textures
Time for the final touches in photoshop. I scanned this in and added rain and some little details. I also scanned in some hand-written type to finish it off. Hopefully, you can see a little of the magic that I tried to distill. I would like to visit that forest soon.
Ivan showing kindness to a baby bird stuck in a rain storm.

1 comment:

holly ogawa said...

Oh my gosh, this is so beautiful. I love reading about your process!


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