Character Development

Silver Dollar City Coloring Books

My very first professional jobs were for Silver Dollar City, a theme park in the Missouri Ozarks. I did three different park maps, coloring books, activity books and miscellaneous other illustrations for various products. For some reason, this weekend I was thinking about those old SDC coloring books. It would be really fun to have another crack at those things. I’m not a big fan of hard line coloring book art, but what if a coloring book could be created with tonal art? I had some spare time, so I whipped up a sample to see what that might look like. You can see what I came up with below, right next to my old original coloring book page…

…HEY… I was straight outa college when I did that! QUIT LAUGHING AT ME!

SDCFloodedMine

Running With The Big Dogs

Concept work is always fun. This is a project I worked on a couple of years ago… a crazy little pack of finger dog puppets.

In concept work my role is not to create finished color artwork, but to develop characters and then show them in front, side, three quarter and back views. My sketches are then used by animators and sculptors to create 3-D versions of the characters with. Below are my starting ideas for the pack of dogs, a few of the 360 degree views and some of the finished product.

Dogs01

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Antiquated Artist Clip Files

Gather ’round kids and I’ll tell you a story of how old timers used to make pictures back in the olden days.

As an illustrator, you have to be ready and able to draw anything a client might ask for, so photo reference is a must. In pre-internet days, artists were continually begging people to give them their old magazines. They would then spend hours looking through them, ripping pictures out and organizing them into file folders. By saving various pictures of random things, there was a slight chance that when a future client asked you to draw some obscure subject, you might actually get lucky and magically find a picture of it in your files. The more expansive your “clip file” was, the greater chance you had of finding usable reference in it. Not exactly an ideal system but better than nothing… slightly.

Finding reference material is so much easier today. The last magazine job I did was a story about a guy finding Elvis’s rusty old motorcycle in a garage sale. The client wanted a caricature of the writer dressed as Elvis and sitting on the motorcycle. I jumped onto the internet, googled up a motorcycle and an Elvis costume and within minutes was working my drawing out.

The good old days were good old days, but I’m a pretty big fan of new technology. These days if a client calls and wants a picture of a Gobi Jerboa, I can quickly look it up, read all about it, find a dozen good pictures to work from and draw a Gobi Jerboa that actually looks like a Gobi Jerboa.

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Another Look At The Book

Here’s another small glimpse of the book that I am currently illustrating. I tried something new on this one. On previous books I’ve always figured everything out on paper first. On this one, I did all the “figuring out” on the computer. I first created the book spreads in Photoshop, added text to the pages and then roughed out picture ideas with a blue digital brush. This approach really worked well for me as it kept my roughs fast and loose and made it extremely easy to try different layouts as I searched for the right picture.

Masks