There was a time I worked almost exclusively in graphite; something about the simplicity appealed to me. While I’ve taken it up again in my fine arts, black and white illustration jobs haven’t come my way in while. This one is for Cicada magazine, which is Cricket for older kids. The story is set in the forest, but there is no specific time or place.
It’s a strange story. The boy is an awful hunter and fisherman and a supposed drain on his tribe. The Almighty Spirit of the Forest seems to think it’s his job to take him out. He finds an old she-bear, possesses her body and mind, and sets out to kill the young warrior.
This is the original sketch. The editors liked it, but the boy’s proportions are a little odd and his neck ornament is too big for a warrior who has not yet proven himself.
Here is the final for the first illustration. The boy’s proportions are in check, and the neckwear is appropriate for someone lacking that killer instinct.
Back to the story… Unfortunately for the Spirit of the Forest, the she-bear he picked—out of all the bears in the woods—is half blind and has a bad paw, among other ailments. So, the young boy warrior kills the old she-bear and becomes a man-warrior. Of course the Spirit guy is almighty and removes himself from the bear as she ascends into bear heaven. Ooops, sorry! Cut and run.
Finished art. The only changes were the kid’s legs needed to be more sprawled out and to make sure the bear was in the water.
The moral of the story is that, if you are weak and can’t hunt or fish, you should be killed by a possessed bear.
The drawings were done using a mechanical pencil with 2H lead on 11″ x 14″ smooth bristol. I used a blending stick to soften it up and an ebony pencil for the darker areas.