Thursday, March 31, 2016


This year started with a big project.  I was hired to illustrate a kids picture book.  In my career I have always wanted to do this work but was never able to get hired until now, a scant 20 years later.   That said I love the work, and have been doing a combination of hand drawn and digital.

After reading the manuscript I create the rough thumbnail drawings in Photoshop on my Cintique
At this stage there are so many changes it's easier to go back and do them in Photoshop.

Once the thumbnails are approved I print them out full size 11X17 and bring them to the light table I use 11X17 Bristle Board for the pencil drawing.   The light table is a great tool, once I get the layout right I want to go directly to the finished board.  Why torture yourself redrawing a good layout from scratch?   Also I still like using pencils on paper at this stage, thew line has a nice energy to it and I have my arsenal of pencils all figured out for various jobs.

For this book I use Staedtler Mars Lumograph Pencils  HB and 3B.  HB for the lighter lines 3B for the dark lines.   If you can swing it once you find a pencil you like get a box I have an electric sharpener right on the desk I'll sharpen about 10 to start, I really hate stopping to look for the next sharp pencil.  Also it's good to have a little piece of sandpaper to get an extra sharp tip if you need it.

This is the work space, not very glamorous, but everything is in reach!  That Panasonic pencil sharpener has been working steadily for me since 1996 if you ever see one at a garage sale pick it up.

Here are a few techniques for pencil, if you have been drawing for a while there is probably nothing new here, but those of you craving some pointers, here we go....  Pull Curves  if you are drawing small curves you will have better control of your line if you pull the curve toward you in a counter clockwise manner.

For straight lines, Push them away from you.   Also turn your drawing paper to accommodate the direction you need to draw the line.

That said, I find that for bigger arcs our hands pivot from the wrist in a nice clockwise arc.  Try drawing a symetricle circle with  a clockwise arc of your hand and turning the paper.

Next thing, line weight.  Drawings are more dynamic if you vary the line weigh.  A basic principal is thinner lines on top, heavy lines at the bottom.  It will give weight to the drawing as well as break up the sameness of a uniform line through out the drawing.  Even with the mouth line on this drawing The line starts thinner and end flared.

Once I get the okay from the publisher I will talk more about the book, and show some of my basic coloring techniques.   After I finish the pencil drawings I scan them in and color in Photoshop.  Coloring in Photoshop is essential for the way I work, it allows notes and changes to be made to the color pieces quickly and efficiently.    More on that soon...