Friday, June 29, 2007

Lady Liberty Illustration- Day Two

Here are a few pictures I took while I was working today. First I worked mostly on the foreground details, then started building up some of the clouds of smoke, going over everything with light washes, working from light to dark.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Lady Liberty Illustration- Day One

First I traced my sketch onto watercolor paper (Arches 300 pound hot press) using a light box. Then I lightly penciled in the illustration. I do this part with hard graphite, which works well because once I start painting, those first pencil lines are so light that they pretty much disappear. Of course, this part of the process might not make for the most entertaining blog post, since the lines are barely visible. Anyway, here it is. If you look very closely, you can see the pencil lines.

It's all penciled in, then taped with masking tape to a wooden board (so the paper doesn't buckle while I'm working on it). I also tape the edges of the picture, so when I'm done, the picture will have nice clean edges all around. This isn't really necessary, but it's strangely gratifying to rip off that tape at the end of each illustration. Somehow, I don't really feel like it's done until I rip off the tape.
Then I started painting. I'm starting each illustration in this book with a brown underpainting. Then I build on top of that with color. I go from light to dark, working all over the picture. I try not to focus on any one area for too long, especially at this early phase, when I'm trying to build the overall composition. Here's how far I got today:

And here's a shot of my whole drawing table, with paints on the right, my picture in the middle, and a bunch of reference photos scattered around.
Tomorrow I'll keep working on the underpainting, then start building up some color. Again, if you have any questions or comments, I'd love to hear them.

Lady Liberty- illustration in progress

Here's a section of my studio wall. The pictures are for a book called Lady Liberty: A Biography, written by Doreen Rappaport, to be published by Candlewick in May, 2008. I always have the whole book up on the wall while I'm working on it. First the wall is covered with sketches, then layouts, and eventually, all the sketches are replaced by final art.

Right now, as you can see, some of the pictures are done, and some aren't. The illustrations are due August 1. Thirteen of the twenty illustrations are completely done, and all but four are at least started. I've been making some good progress lately, so if I keep it up, I might come close to making the deadline.

Today I'm starting a new picture. It's a wide view looking up at the Statue of Liberty during the dedication ceremony on October 28, 1886. It's the moment just after the statue's face was revealed for the first time. The point of view is from one of the many boats in the harbor during the ceremony. Here's my sketch:
So now it's time to get to work. First, I'll trace my sketch onto 300 lb hot press Arches watercolor paper, using a light box. The tracing is usually pretty sloppy, so after that, I'll pencil in most of the details. Then I'll tape each one to a board and start painting.

I'll take pictures along the way, and post something here at the end of each day. If you have any questions or comments, I'd love to hear them. If there's anything you want to know that I'm not mentioning, let me know.