Saturday, June 11, 2011


Book Cover/Portfolio Piece
It is less than two months until the SCBWI Los Angeles Conference. I thought I was going to start feeling rushed at this point, but things are going very well. I finished the first of my new portfolio pieces last week. In fact, I finished it in half the time by starting the piece differently. It was a big experiment, but I had nothing to lose and I ended up winning big.

Normally I dial in my final sketch on vellum and then transfer it onto bristol with graphite paper. I'm not very fond of that step. I always feel like I lose detail and line quality, so I decided to experiment with scanning my final layout and printing it onto the bristol with my inkjet printer. My scanning/printing tests turned out great so I decided to take everything one step further to save time.

After I transfer the layout, I usually block in color with an airbrush or brush thin layers of paint. This stage is very rough, but it saves time. I also spend a fair amount of time fixing things that didn't transfer well. This adds time. I often feel like I'm re-drawing what I had already spent a lot of time on. I thought, what if I blocked in color on the computer directly on my scanned layout and then printed it out? When I tested this technique by printing out onto bristol and using colored pencil over it, it worked beautifully. The final illustration turned out great and was finished in half the time. I wasn't struggling with all those lost details from transferring and I could erase without losing my base layout. I also had the psychological benefit of knowing I could print out a new copy easily if I needed to start again. (I've never had to start an illustration over, but it's always a dread in the back of my mind. It's nice to be rid of that.)

So, I'm cruising through my new pieces with the knowledge that my usual 8-12 hour days at the drawing board are going to yield even more. I even took a couple days off without worry. What's not to like? Back to it...