Thursday, February 28, 2013

Daily report: following your highest passion

I admit to being a “new-agey” type. Why bother mentioning this in my daily report? Because my  forthcoming illustrated novels represent my highest passion and I believe that following your highest passion can lead you to enlightenment. Each day as I work on the book(s) and get them that much closer to being ready to send to press, I also feel that much further along the road of my joy. It's pretty profound if you think about it and also quite fun.

Now back to today's report…I put Book I into proper manuscript formatting today. (This would have taken much less time had I remembered the correct the search and replace commands – oh well!) I really didn’t mind doing it the long way, I just listened to some jazz and got it done. It was very peaceful.

This evening, I put in a good bit of work on the next book illustration. It’s looking quite good at this point. The illustration shows the heroine and her best girlfriend, who’s quite beautiful. While my heroine is boyish and cute her friend is a real “dish.” She’s really looking that way in the drawing too. ;-)

Managing lights and darks in pen and ink drawing is a total feel thing. Everything in the drawing is about contrast. In this piece I've started using an ink brush to add a bit more punch to the darks. I'm pleased the results thus far.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Daily Report

The rewrite on Book II is now finished. I’ve added 24 pages to the manuscript, including several new scenes.

My next task will be to revisit Book I for one more quick spelling and grammar check before moving on to professional editorial corrections.

In the meantime, I’ll be continuing to work on the Book I illustrations.  

Monday, February 25, 2013

Daily Report

I am delighted to report that I have finished the rewrite of Book II's Chapter 28. This was the last major rewrite problem in the book. The rest will just be editing, I think. Not too bad at all. I wasn't sure how I was going to handle this particular change, but it had to be done, the chapter included too many direct references to things copyright-protected by large, nasty corporations. I knew that when I wrote it initially, but all the same it was kind of sad losing the reinterpretation of the "Help Me Obi Wan Kenobi," speech from Star Wars. *shrug* Oh well. Using that speech would have been way too much of a copyright risk for my new book. The new scene is much better anyway, more internally consistent to the world and a better lead in for something to come in Books III and IV.

So there you have it.

I'm planning on doing some inking later on tonight, but for now, a short rest before dinner.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

All about the hair

A "Gibson" Girl by Charles Dana Gibson.
Charles Dana Gibson (September 14, 1867 – December 23, 1944) was an American graphic artist, best known for his creation of the Gibson Girl, an iconic representation of the beautiful and independent American woman at the turn of the 20th century (from Wikipedia).

Primarily, Gibson was a pen & ink artist and boy was he good! His drawings (of "Gibson" girls and everything else) were wonderful and his lines sharp. The illustration I'm working on at the moment requires one of the characters to have some pretty righteous hair and I referred to Gibson when thinking about how to draw it. For my money, Gibson is the best choice to study if you want to understand how hair moves in ink.

As I contemplated Gibson at breakfast yesterday, I took a look Matt's curly hair. Fascinated, I picked up a pen and a napkin and did a very fast sketch of him working on his laptop. Here's the sketch. Although very rough, I think I successfully captured the movement of his (at that moment) very messy hair with just a few pen strokes.

Matt working on his laptop.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Daily Report

I’ve decided to start using this blog more like a journal and begin reporting smaller and less “impressive” events going on here at the studio.

So here goes – The Daily Report for February 22, 2013.

I'm closing in on the end of the Book II rewrite. Yeah! Just five chapters left to go. That sounds like a lot but as the book has thirty-one chapters and an epilogue, I’m actually pretty close to the end now. I’ve done a massive amount of rewriting in this draft, already having added more than twenty pages to the text, including several entirely new scenes. I have one more of these new scenes left to write for the book, this one coming in the next chapter I’ll be editing, Chapter 28.

The pencil drawing for the next Book I illustration is nearly completed. I expect to start inking it later on today. This will be the first of the illustrations showing “modern things” drawn in this old-timey style. I think it’ll be fun to see modern cars and such drawn as if they were part of a fairy tale book from the early 20th century. Don't you? ;-)

That’s the report for now. Ciao.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Editing versus Rewriting

I realized this morning that I've been mis-communicating lately about the editing I've been doing in Book II. It's not so much an editing pass that I've up to as much as a full rewrite. Obviously, rewrites are more time-consuming and complex then edits. I've already added about twenty pages to the book, filling in details I saw in my head when I first wrote it but left out for the sake of initial ease of writing flow. Yes, it is a lot of work, but worth it. The book is much better now for the changes. :-)

I'm in the home stretch at this point with just a few chapters left to go. It's been interesting making illustration notes as I progress through the text, trying to remember that changes to the text they well might affect the illustrations too. Logically, I wouldn't even start the pictures until the text was absolutely completed, but I'm not that smart and am working on them concurrently. *lol* Still, all is proceeding rather smoothly, especially considering the size of the project (more than one actually as so far there are two books.)

Well, that was my writing break for the back to Chapter 26. :-)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Book illustration - “This Girl is Under My Protection”

"This Girl is Under My Protection"
Copyright Sara Light-Waller, 2013

Well, here you go, the finished piece seen in development over the past few days. This is the third illustration I’ve done for these books thus far. I’m not sure yet how many illustrations will be in each volume. Of course, the drive is to do many, many illustrations per book but I actually think that a handful will be enough. It seems to me that this creates a sense of anticipation in the reader for when the next plate will be coming along.

At the moment, I have two images jockeying for the next spot in the drawing cue. I don’t yet know which will get the priority slot but I’ll do sketches of them both tonight in order to have the visual notes ready to go no matter which I pick next.

So onwards and upwards and back to inky stained fingers!   

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Mark Crilley video

Those of you who follow me on Facebook know I’m quite fond of comic/manga artist Mark Crilley (Brody’s Ghost and Miki Falls.) I thought I’d post Mark’s newest how-to video here today as it does a great job of demonstrating an artistic process that's quite similar to mine. The video shows a time-lapse explanation for how he creates one of his highly-complex dystopian cityscapes.

The timing of this video is rather interesting to me as I’m designing my own dystopian landscapes for some of the Book I illustrations right now. I wonder if my drawings will end up looking anything like Mark’s. I guess time will tell…

Enjoy the video and while watching I challenge you to think about what your own imaginary landscapes might look like.
Ciao for now and back to the drawing board.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Well under way

Okay, okay...I'm not going to show off too many of the new illustrations before the book is published but since I've started with this one, I thought I'd continue to follow its progress.

"This girl is under my protection"
Pen & ink - partially completed
At this point the piece is about 60% completed. The contrast still has quite a ways to go before it's correctly balanced, but the scene is now coming into focus. One of the nice things about the modern day is that if you can't find your opaque white (or if it's dried up from long disuse as mine has) you can always make corrections in Photoshop.

I'm using a variety of pens in this piece including a micron for the initial outlines (it doesn't smudge) and fountain pens (three different ones - Namiki Falcon, Noodler's Nib Creaper flex, and Noodler's Konrad flex all filled with Noodler's Black ink.) I'm working pretty large - 7"x10" on Bristol plate. As you might well imagine, it's much easier drawing details when you work larger. With pen & ink you want to shrink the final artwork down to at least 75% of the original size. I prefer to go with more like 50% of the original. Pen & ink drawings always looks better when decreased in size as the lines tighten up. You have to be careful with it though as if you shrink them too much all your lines might to close up so much that too much detail is lost. Getting it just right is a feel thing.

I'm going for a classic children's book look with these illustrations. Why...? Because I love the idea of a retro-sci-fi love story looking like it's something that you should be reading in bed. Cozy and romantic, at least that's the plan. I think adults should have their bedtime stories too.

So that's the report for tonight. I think it's time to put down my pens and head for bed. Goodnight to all!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Little update

"This girl is under my protection"
Early stages of a pen & ink drawing
Tonight I thought I'd post a teaser of one of the illustrations in my new novel. This drawing is still in its very early stages but most of the outlines are already in. From here, I'll finish the rest of the outlines and start building up detail until I have the contrast and the "color" just right. I say color because really good pen & ink work fools the eye into believing you're seeing as many shades of gray as you would see gradations of tone in a colored piece. So the eye reads the piece as almost having color. 

All of the illustrations in my new book will be black and white (better for Kindle) and will be highly detailed pen & ink drawings. I'm using a very old style as my model (think HJ Ford's wonderful illustrations for Andrew Lang's colored fairy books.) but I'm using it in a kind of retro way. I could say more but I don't want to give away too much, at least not yet. I will tell you that there are no fairies in my book. There are however, monsters, street gangs, horrible villains, frozen taiga, starships, and motorcycles (some that fly). So the style will be retro but the subject matter will not, at least not all the time. When all is said and done, my plan is to present my readers with a beautiful package, a good story and good pictures to go along with it. It's a big project but one that I have every intention of being quite proud of when it's finished. 

I'll end this post by saying that this illustration will be in the first third of the book and that the caption will read, "This girl is under my protection." Hope you enjoyed the sneak peak! Stay tuned for more to come as the book progresses.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Lao Tzu & The Will of Heaven

Tao Te Ching
When a superior man hears of the Tao,
he immediately begins to embody it.
When an average man hears of the Tao,
he half believes it, half doubts it.
When a foolish man hears of the Tao,
he laughs out loud.
If he didn't laugh,
it wouldn't be the Tao.

Thus it is said:
The path into the light seems dark,
the path forward seems to go back,
the direct path seems long,
true power seems weak,
true purity seems tarnished,
true steadfastness seems changeable,
true clarity seems obscure,
the greatest are seems unsophisticated,
the greatest love seems indifferent,
the greatest wisdom seems childish.

The Tao is nowhere to be found.
Yet it nourishes and completes all things.

Return is the movement of the Tao.
Yielding is the way of the Tao.

All things are born of being.
Being is born of non-being.

Friday, February 8, 2013

File it under - I'll be darned!

I have been spending a great deal of time editing my novels lately, especially Book 2 of the series at the moment. In between rewriting and sharpening up scenes, I've been enjoying looking at the works of my favorite Golden Age children's book illustrators in hopes of becoming inspired for a series of new illustrations I have planned. Of course, my favorites are the classical masters including: Pyle, Rackham, Ford, Dulac, Goble, and someone rather new to me - Willy Pogany (1882 - 1955). This Hungarian illustrator had quite a diverse style from classical watercolors to fantastic line drawings in an Art Deco style. (There's a Dover book out about him that I've planned to buy but haven't yet.) Last night I was looking through his bibliography on-line when, imagine my surprise, I realized that I already had one of his books!

I'd picked it up at the Seattle Public Library book sale at some point for its lovely (and quite unusual) pen & ink illustrations. It's not in the best shape, but it is here, now an even more cherished part of my reference library.

A well loved book

Title Page
Fantastic Pogany line art
These wonderful initial capitols are peppered throughout the book

Friday, February 1, 2013

Analyzing the color choices of Edmund Dulac

French illustrator Edmund Dulac (1882 –1953) was a well known for his rich and detailed children’s book illustrations. One of my favorite things about Dulac is his use of color. Many of his watercolor illustrations show scenes in low light (night, twilight, or perhaps indoor scenes) but with bright flashes of color somewhere in the scene. He seemed to prefer cool colors for his palette, using only a limited number of warm colors for emphasis. (See how the scarlet stands out in the illustration below.)

Edmund Dulac illustration from
"The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam"
I thought it might be fun to hypothesize on which watercolor paints I have right now that could be used to reproduce the colors in his paintings.

Here’s the list that I came up with:

Winsor yellow (WN - Winsor Newton), Lemon Yellow (DS - Daniel Smith), French Ochre (DS), Quin. Burnt Orange (DS), Scarlett Lake (WN), Alizarin Crimson (DS), Rose Madder Genuine (DS), Prussian Blue (DS), Mayan Blue Dark (DS), Cobalt Blue (DS), Manganese Blue Hue (DS), Ultramarine Turquoise (DS), Phthalo Green (DS), and Bohemian Green Earth (DS).

Edmund Dulac "The Queen of Sheba"

As seen in the above illustration, Dulac also occasionally uses a very bright, cool blue-violet in his paintings to wonderful affect. You can see how lovely this color looks when placed next to the scarlet. Although I think I could mix this color using Prussian Blue and Alizarin Crimson, it might be easier to just add Cobalt Blue Violet (DS) to my palette instead. (Cobalt Blue Violet is about the same brightness and temperature as the violet-blue he was using.)

Although I’m certain Dulac did not have all of these particular colors in his palette (Mayan Blue Dark being a new Daniel Smith color for instance),
I think I can get pretty close using the colors I've outlined here. We’ll see!


Here's a picture of the palette colors mentioned above. I think they look pretty harmonious, although the true test will be when I start painting with them. Stay tuned...
My version of the Dulac palette