SCBWI Illustrator Retreat

Last weekend, I attended an illustration retreat at the Dumas Bay Centre in Federal Way, Washington. Organized by the SCBWI chapters from Western Washington and Oregon, the retreat was a weekend filled with delightfully challenging workshops led by Kelly Murphy and Sergio Ruzzier.

In addition to the great faculty, it was energizing and inspiring to be surrounded by the sixty or so other illustrators who attended. It was an incredible weekend and I feel honored to have had the chance to go. The fun of the retreat is over, but I'm excited to return to my troll hole and continue drawing and experimenting.

Here are a few paintings from one Kelly Murphy's workshops, which involved experimenting with color palettes.

Here are a few drawings from Sergio Ruzzier's workshops, which involved lots of inking and thinking.

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Lucy's Tiger

Howdy folks!

Here's a new illustration I just finished, it's for a story I'm writing about a girl who likes to invent and build mechanical creatures and contraptions. Below are close-ups and photos of the process. 

My final line drawing, color study, and two value studies. For my first value study, I tried staging the scene at night with dark shadows. After thinking about color combinations, I chose bright lighting to showcase the characters and create an upbeat mood.

For lighting and drawing reference, I built a rough model. I used Sculpty, wire, aluminum foil, and bits of cardboard.

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Keytar Panda

Howdy folks!

Here's a new illustration I just finished, I call it Keytar Panda. Below are close-ups and photos of the process. 

This is the sketchbook page that inspired the idea. I doodled it while on the phone, it's always fun to see what the brain throws out while it's distracted. 

I built a rough model for lighting and pose reference.

Tight-ish line drawing before painting. 

 Value and color studies. The rooster was originally a songbird, but it changed when I was painting these studies. I felt the rooster's bigger silhouette would be stronger and the bold dashes of red around it's face would be a good accent.

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Snow White


Today I'd like to share a new illustration and a bit of my creative process. The illustration is for the story "Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs" and was created as an assignment for the Illustrator's Intensive at the SCBWI Winter Conference that happened this past February in NYC (blog post about that to come soon).

Here are a few of my preliminary sketches, I started with character designs of Snow White and the dwarfs. At first, I was unsure of how to depict the dwarfs, my research uncovered many different interpretations in myths and folklore. From Tolkien to Norse mythology, I found the common threads were that dwarfs were short, homely, little men, who were exceptionally skilled at smithing. My jumping off point was a bucket of reference photos of miners, lumber jacks, and hipsters that I didn't use for another project, and that got me really stoked up to design their outfits.

Researching dwarfs also got me thinking about how sexist the story of "Snow White" is, all the females are either evil or helpless. So my solution was to make the dwarfs women and to show Snow White's mad carpentry skills. Ok, so maybe the Snow White in my illustration needs some practice with home repair, but my logic was that she had built some bird houses before and was slowly honing her craft. In any case, my intent was to show that she's not entirely helpless, and she's doing the dwarfs a favor by staying, not just mooching off them because she's a spoiled princess.

After I had my characters, scenic elements, and composition, I started refining my sketches. This was the final line drawing on watercolor paper before I started painting.

Then I did a small color study to determine my palette.

Here's the final illustration and close-up detail images. The medium is acrylics on watercolor paper.

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Milo's Garden, Pages 26 & 27

Here's another spread from Milo's Garden, a picture book I'm working on. In this scene, Milo is camped out in his garden and is surrounded by a group of mischievous creatures that snuck in while he was sleeping.

Line drawing

Color study

 I started this painting with a blue wash

I painted a X on the back to keep the paper from curling


The final!

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