Who Wants to Illustrate for Children? Part 1

I’m finally caught up with the projects that came my way. The new agent did her part and sent me more work than I could handle. It’s been a while since I had so many deadlines converge, and the end result was a mix of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Since it’s my website, I’m only going to share the good parts.

This is Hannah, an 8-year-old girl and the youngest of a large family. The theme is all about hand-me-downs, so she’s supposed to be wearing a mishmash of clothes.

This sketch is created directly on 11″ x 14″ bristol, using my now patented draw/erase/draw/erase (repeat) technique. The editors liked this one, except it had to look like she was sweating.

The first step I take is to fill everything with color using acrylic paint. A good coat of acrylic paint will cover up most of the sketch lines and get me started. This was a 32-page book, so consistency is always an issue. I decide here what colors to mix for her hair and face, and then I treat it like a coloring book. I may put in a little detail, but my main concern is to get a coat of acrylic color everywhere on the page to prepare for the next step.

After the first coat of acrylic, I use gouache. The acrylic forms a permanent and waterproof base for the gouache to sit on. Since it reconsitutes, I can move it and slide it around on top of the acrylic until I get just what I want. If I don’t like it, I can wipe it down and start over, leaving just the acrylic underpainting.

Using a mix of ultramarine blue and raw umber, I outline everything and put in the dark shadows. I do this with the entire stack of illustrations. Then I go back through the stack, and using just clean water I smooth out the blue/brown line and blend it in to create the shadows.

Here is the final. I’ve applied more skin color and details in the hair, shaded the clothing, and made her a bit more solid. I’ve also gone back in with acrylic paint to touch up some spots that needed to be solid, as well as used some titanium white and lamp black to make things “pop.”

The story is ultimately about magic shoes, so I’ve also added the sparkle effect using both acrylic paint and prismacolor.