Cover illustration for Halloween Bandits a Lawrence Pinkley Adventure. Illustrated in pen and ink using brushes, art pen, brush pensRead More
Imagine a robbery at a newsagents and all manner of scary thoughts cross your mind, the potential for someone to get hurt, weapons, dangerous assailants and theft. When illustrating a scene like that in a children’s book you have to step carefully. Even when the tone of the book is funny you have to consider making the scene look dangerous and dramatic without having the illustration look too violent or scary. At the same time you have to give the artwork a little edge as to not belittle how terrifying a robbery can be. Performing a illustrated balancing act worthy of a trapeze artist starts with laying out the essential elements from the story and composing a layout.
Creating a good concept illustration is key to developing the right tone and I’ll do that by taking a very rough sketch and using layout paper just go over it again until I get character, composition and tone the way I want it. Getting it right at this stage means no later disappointment from the publisher by keeping the intention of the approved signed off concept in line with how the finished image will look like.
For my robbery scene, illustrated in pen and ink, I added in a few bystanders, a man protecting his dog, and a boy next to a jar of lollipops. It really helps of course that my robbers were wearing Halloween masks and that alone helps keep the look fun, dramatic and not too scary.
Cover illustrations can range from the complex, lots of characters and things going on in a active environment to the simple, an object or person. The focus when illustrating the cover for Halloween Bandits was to capture some of the quirkiness of character in a dynamic action piece. After creating the character concept illustrations the key to creating a really punchy image that would leap of the cover was to visualize the energy and movement by varying thickness of the line in ink loosely and quick by hand.
All my commissions are hand drawn illustrations I prefer the spontaneity of a hand rendered artwork, quirks and splatters of ink can add a lot of expression to an illustration. Pen and ink illustrations when got down on paper quickly can look very bold using different techniques and pens and brushes.
For more samples including picture book illustrations, narrative and comic illustration or reluctant reader story artwork, please visit my illustration portfolio.
Illustrations are divided into three galleries.
Editorial illustration and advertising artwork.
Picture book illustrations.
Illustrated books which features illustrations for comic and older/reluctant reader illustration samples.
Creating a visually dynamic illustration for a front cover is always the result you want to achieve when starting the project. For Twisty Tales, The Little Mermaid Adventures commissioned by Franklin Watts the challenge was creating a cover image before the work had started on the book interior illustrations.
Through the process of roughing out the concepts for the interior you take your characters designs and get to know them better in the actions they take throughout the story. The character design changes and adapts to the highs and lows of the adventure. Little tweaks to the look can help express emotions better and it all helps with the narrative. Doing the character design illustrations first for the book cover is not unusual as long as you know the story and the adventure the characters must face.
I develop my sketches in pencil and hand them over for review, keeping a good line of dialog going with the client and adapting the concept illustrations to fit with the feedback. Ensuring a quick pace at this stage keeps helps the development and the input fresh so that the character doesn’t get overworked.
Using the layout provided by the publisher I create the composition for the cover. The little mermaid shoots through the artwork towards the sailor she is going to rescue. It’s all very dynamic and has a comic book illustration tone to the layout as its very much a action scene with drama and danger that needs to be conveyed.
There is no doubt from the layout that the man needs rescuing from drowning but an extra danger from a looming shark also needed to be shown. Judging how prominent the shark should be was the main item to work out on the layout as the overall composition of the mermaid racing to help the sailor in the bottom corner was very well received.
When it came to finishing the illustration and adding colour I wanted a little bit of the beauty of the underwater world to show, I thought of showing the plankton floating about like stars in a night sky with rays of light from the surface softly lighting the depths below. With the little room I had left I wanted to show the little mermaids entourage of fish looking concerned at their brethren's plight in the net.
For other Picture Book illustrations, Illustrated stories and narrative illustrations please visit my galleries. I have also reluctant reader illustrations and comic strip illustrations available to view or request samples of via my contact page.