Sunday, 22 September 2013

Pastel Artwork, One Stage at a Time...

I spent a 2nd day on my lion-in-the-tree illustration, then I decided to stop for a while: I felt the need to finish it later, after working a bit on the other, more complex spread. This might sound odd but, when I am working on a new project, it can take a while to warm up, so it's not unusual for me to have to go back later and alter the first piece of artwork. Since I'm in a hurry, I thought I'd try and avoid that.

The other Jungle Grumble spread, where all the animals have swapped bits and are parading their new look, was always going to be something of a marathon. My poor old lion has been sitting patiently on hold for ages. Just tracing the rough of this spread up into the pastel paper took a fair while. This is the artwork after the first day:

I mainly concentrated on getting the background colours and textures established. For obvious reasons, in pastels, you always work from the back to the front. I want to keep the background painterly and vague, so it doesn't compete with the animals. I then got Flamingo's colours in early, as they are the brightest and the darkest tones, so help me to guage the rest. 

After day 2, I had a few more animals in and had got the white areas down, again to establish the brightest tones (even though they will be largely covered by giraffe and zebra prints):

Below is after a third day. It seemed to take ages to get not that far forward, but things always slow up as I go along. That's partly the pastels: they are really quick for blocking areas in, but very fiddly for detail. This piece it even trickier than usual: having the animals chopped up, means I can't rely on their shape to identify their bits, which must still all be clearly spottable. I took ages getting crocodile's textures right:

After the fourth day, things felt even less different! I mainly worked on the animal patterns, although we also now have the ostrich:

I am not very patient and hate having a piece on my desk for so long. Normally at this point, when things have slowed to a crawl, I would begin a new piece, to get back some momentum, and come back to finish off. This time there was no choice but to keep going. At least I could see that it was going to work well.   

By the way, you might be able to notice a completely un-worked area in the top left, where the lion is sitting. I have left this until last, as I still have to design the 'swap shop'. One of the main changes the publisher requested to my roughs, was that the changing rooms be made of all natural materials, rather than a curtain:

I have decided to go with big banana leaves, as I am concerned that frondy leaves will be way too fussy. I've left it til last so I could make my decision with the rest of the illustration there. 

It took another full day to get it done - 5 days is something of a record I think. For the purposes of dramatic tension, I will wait and show you the finished piece next time, so watch this space...


Anonymous said...

The suggestion of pink paper is wonderful. Makes all the sense in the world! Beautiful work!!

Caroline D said...

très beau travail !!

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