Wednesday 10 December 2008

Creating a Pastel Illustration for a Book Cover

On Friday, I got the go-ahead for the educational project I was waiting on (see An American Cover). I have spent just over two days finishing the work and I thought it might be interesting to talk you through the process of creating a piece of my final artwork. (I intended to take photos at stages, but had trouble with the camera, so I apologise for that - another time).

Here's the final rough to remind you:

The client actually emailed last minute changes on Monday afternoon, after they had green-lighted this re-rough: to add indication that the wood pieces come from the wrecked wagon and to reinstate the ears, albeit smaller. Fortunately there was still time to incorporate these.

So, here's how it went:

1: I printed out my rough and cut to size my pink, textured, Canson Teintes pastel paper. Though pastel drawings are generally best drawn bigger, the actual print width here is 505mm, so I decided to do this artwork same size.

2: I traced up the line work in fine pencil, using a light box, then 'fixed' it (using Rowney spray fixative - why is that stuff so expensive???).

3: I angled my drawing board (so the dust fell away) and donned my overalls (pastels are a messy business).

4: I laid in the sky first, blending different blues and smudging in clouds. I then rubbed out any unwanted blue from the rocks, erasing back to the pencil guideline. This prevents colour contamination and keep things bright (you can just fix it, but each fix dulls the colours, so I try not to, if possible).

5: The rocky background was next. I established a range of warm colours to contrast with the cool sky. I like to juxtapose marks in a variety of related colours, to add vibrancy: various pinks and oranges for the lighter areas, mauves and blues for the stark shadows (I always avoid brown when I can).

6: I rubbed back as before, to re-find the main character and other foreground details, like the cacti and wagon wheel (rubbing just short of the line, being careful not to create a bare 'gap' around them).

7: Finally the objects. The character's fur came first, then the whites of his eyes, then his clothes in bright, punchy colours, chosen to push him forwards. Then the cacti and wagon. It is important to continually work from the back towards the front, leaving details to last.

8: I now fixed the work thoroughly. This altered the colours, but was necessary before any more pastel could be overlaid (it gets muddy and 'greasy' if over-loaded). It also allowed detail to be added crisply.

9: I put dots in the eyes, added eyelashes and whiskers with pastel pencils, drew spots on his scarf, stripes on trousers and cacti etc. I then re-evaluated the tones, now most things were in. I felt the shadows were much too dark (partly the result of working in poor light on the previous, dingy day, partly the fault of the fixative).

10: I went back, lightening the purple shadows and touching up any other loss of brightness that was too devastating. This is the compromise of working in pastels, and the bane of my life. The drawing is either safe from smudging but more dingy than I would like, or I re-brighten it to get back vibrancy, but at the cost of potential damage.

11: Once I was happy that the background will not change further, I added the dragonfly, lizard, beetle and wild flowers.

12: Another, but very sparing spray with fixative, concentrating only on areas that are at real risk of smudging, avoiding the background as much as possible.

13: After a final once-over and any last minute adjustments, I took the drawing to my cutting mat and trimmed the edges to neaten them. I then surface-mounted it onto lightweight card and cut a paper overlay, which I taped along the top edge (essential to take up the blotting-off of the chalk).

14: I raided my stash of big, cardboard boxes, to create a really stiff package, parcelled it all up and called Fed Ex.

15: I breathed a sigh, equal parts contentment and relief, and put the kettle on!

Hope you like it.


Anonymous said...

Hi Lynne

The finished art work looks really great, I'm sure that the American publisher will love it.

Say hello to your long suffering husband for me!!!


April Jarocka said...

love it! Great to read how you do it.
Merry Christmas

Anonymous said...

That looks great Lynne. Thought you might like to check out the latest art project we did at the CLC - designing stamps based on children's stories (it made me think of you). Some examples are up on the blog.

cassia said...

it's turned out pretty dandy hasn't it? I wasn't quite sure how you were going to do those shadows even at your rough stage, but they look fab. I demand a repeat of this lesson with photos though! cxxx

quiltcat said...

So glad you got the go-ahead on this project! And thank you for explaining your process step by step...fascinating...and i love the results!

Doda said...

It looks fabulous. Even better than I imagined it was going to be in colour. And it was interesting to hear about your process, shame about your camera playing up though.

weechuff said...

I loved the drawing you did, but doesn't it bring the whole thing to life once the colours have been added? I think the choice of colour for the shadows is just perfect:0)

Christina Silverio said...

Thank you so much for the explanation! Wow, this is an incredible process. I haven't worked in pastels for years, and then only the hard pastels, so I am transfixed by this.
The artwork is wonderful! Looking forward to more explanations of your process! :)

Choccy said...

I have just discovered your blogspot and I love it.I am fascinated by the processes you have to go through to produce a piece of illustration.Your style is so bold and lots of fun and I thank you so much for sharing your journey with us.You are helping to
re-inspire my creativity.
Oh yes, forgot to say,the cover looks fab.

Jacqueline Hudon-Verrelli said...

I love how the final turned out. It's so cool to see how the sketch was brought to life.

Art Germinate said...

It's a beautiful cover and surprisingly still very bright in colour! -even though you mentioned it loses vibrancy during the fixing spray process. It is also exciting to see how it went from final rough to the end product. :)

Anonymous said...

i have been surfing through different blogs today and managed to get into yours. i would have to say this has been pretty interesting. i agree with choccy that i too am fascinated with our process to come up with the final piece. it's simply astonishing to see the final piece of another artist's work but also how it was produced. thank you, thank you so much for letting others see how you work. :-)

cheers!! (from across the pacific here in the philippines)

James. said...

A very good blog, thank you for giving us all a climps of your work process.

Unknown said...

I always used cheap hairspray as a fixative. It works just as well in my experience.

Lynne the Pencil said...

Thank you everyone for your lovely feedback.

Ellis: I used to use hairspray and it's fine for charcoal and pencil, but I found it is even worse than fixative for dulling the pastel colours. It's a nightmare!

Theresa Evans said...

Lynne, it looks stunning. Really worked well. And the silhouette shadows look great - really add to the drama of the painting.

Thanks for sharing the process too.

BTW have you tried glassine paper as an overlay when posting pastels? Probably you have but just thought I'd mention it in case.

Anonymous said...

cool... love it already!!
Lynne you're fabulous!

Jodie Hein

Tomás Serrano said...

Fantastic! The final work is, I think, scanning, but the size is big... And one more question: how many time took you?

Lynne the Pencil said...

Hi Tomas: the final artwork size was 510 x 320mm, so fairly big. It took me a day to design and draw it and another 2 days to colour.

Andrew W. Moir said...

All of your art is fantastic! Interesting seeing all these highly polished cartoons, then coming across the realistic pencil drawings. Amazing stuff here. :)

Lynne the Pencil said...

Thanks Andrew.
I have always kept up the drawing, as I regard that as my 'hobby' art, as opposed to my 'work' illustration. The down side of doing something you love for your job is that you turn it into something else, so the sketching is really important to me.

Tomás Serrano said...

Lynne, how do you scan a big drawing like this to send it?
I´d like to know your 10 favourite places in the world...

Lynne the Pencil said...

I don't: I post it (see points 13 & 14 above. For the blog only, I took a digital photo of the artwork before packaging up.

OK, to answer your challenge: 10 places I've travelled to that I can recommend as visually exciting for the photographer or illustrator include:

The Namib Desert(Namibia)
Mekong Delta(Vietnam)
Cape Tribulation rainforest (Australia)
Wastwater (UK, Lake District)
Gdansk (Poland)
Przemsl (Poland)
Robin Hood's Bay (UK, N Yorkshire)
Chongqing (China)

How about you?

Faye said...

Hi Lynne,
Thankyou for the lovely comment on my blog! and for this lovely little glimpse into your working process! I've never managed to get the hang of pastels, I just end up with a muddy mess, which over time slowly seems to expand until every page in my sketchbook is covered with grubby, pastel-y fingerprints. I love how vibrant and crisp this image looks though! F x

Dave Linder said...

Thanks so much for your kind words! I absolutely love your blog - Thanks for showing your work. I have 2 kids and much to my chagrin they've grown past the point of illustrated books - I wish that there were more illustrators like you! Looking forward to reading through the wealth of information that you have posted!

Buskitten said...

Hi Lynne,
Thank you so much for leaving a comment on my blog - i really appreciate it, and it made me laugh! Well, will Santa make to Fluffville before Christmas Eve? We will have to wait and see! (And I have two weeks to draw the conclusion, ha ha!)
I am totally in awe of your brilliant, brilliant work - it inspires me so much to try as hard as I can.
Thanks again!
Best Wishes

Alicia Padrón said...

Lynne the cover turned out great!! The colors are amazing and those purple shadows do pop now and look lovely! Congratulations on a beautiful job :o)

Pease Porridge said...

Wow, very interesting. Thank you for sharing your process. Love the outcome!


Felicity Grace said...

I came over to say thank you for your lovely comment but I've been bowled over by your blog and your beautiful illustrations! If a fairy godmother could grant me a wish to draw any way I wanted, it would be like this! It's so good to find your blog!

harry bell said...

Thanks for this fascinating insight into your working process. I'm afraid I suffered a failure of imagination when I tried to understand what you were going to do with the shadows (I see I wasn't alone there), but all is revealed. Great result.

Lynne the Pencil said...

This is so lovely - I am blown away by the amount of really nice comments from you all. It's like a big e-hug!!! Thank you x

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your message Lynne! Im enjoying your drawings,too! (I
think you are a realy talent for "intantaneous" drawings)


Tomás Serrano said...

Hy Lynne. This is my list of 10 favourite places (artistic interest) I visited:
1 All New York
2 The Timanfaya Park in Lanzarote
3 Paris
4 Monument Valley
5 Zabrinski Point in Death Valley
6 Abu Simbel
7 The old Warsaw
8 Praha
9 The Acropolis
10 Bali
One question. Do you send your original drawings? Sorry if I don´t understand all the text :)

Lynne the Pencil said...

Thanks Tomas - good suggestions! Monument Valley is very much on my 'to do' list for some time in the future.

Not sure I understand your question though: I do of course send the above original artwork to the publishers.

Tomás Serrano said...

Thanks Lynne. I thought, in this kind of works, all the consignments were by internet in high resolution.

Lynne the Pencil said...

Ah - I understand.

No, my artwork is too big to be scanned properly at home and book publishing work still tends to be scanned professionally at their end, for very best quality.

Unknown said...

It's terrific Lynne! It was great to be able to see the piece all the way through production (even revisions). It's always nice to see the process. I can't believe the piece is all pastels! With all the digital these days (that's all I'm comfortable doing any professional work in), it's always refreshing to see someone work traditionally. Thanks for sharing - and I appreciate that you're always updating your website!

Rosie said...

You have so much advice pouring from your site. Your work is terrific and I would love a studio like yours!

KAI said...

wonderful artwork! may I ask a little question please :) ? What is the name/make of that amazing desk/drafting table you use in your studio. Thank You :)

Lynne the Pencil said...

Hi Rachel - it's a Molin 2.20 desk.

It's quite a few years old, as I got it passed on from my brother, who was working as a designer. It's much more solid than the old one I used to have.

Allen jeley said...

Your covers too good for new books and all of designee also fresh and imported thanks for share it example of reflective essay .