I love bears. They can be adorable, bumbling, and funny, or powerful, magnificent, and dangerous. Polar bears are usually my favourite. There’s the arctic living, icy swimming awesomeness and they have a kind of elegance in that long neck. But here in New England you see a lot more black bears than polar ones… I was working on this pair of cubs and I was really liking them, but then I took a few steps back and something had gone funky in their faces.
It’s disappointing to get so far and then realize it’s not quite right, but that’s the hazard of working in traditional mediums: There’s no control-z for anything.
And here it is! My illustration of the opening scene of The Autumn Republic, the third book in Brian McClellan’s Powder Mage Trilogy. Check them out here.
Of course, as soon as I finish anything, after that moment of triumph, I start noticing all the little imperfections, all the places I could have done something better. But that is what I can work on in the next piece….
Continuing in my process posts for an illustration of Brain McClellan’s Powder Mage Trilogy.
Once the final sketch is all done I start in with the first layers of colour and masking fluid. I’m not a huge fan of masking fluid, but it is undeniably useful on occasion. Here it allows me to paint over smooth washes without worrying about tracing in and around the figures.
From here there are a lot of layers of colour, making the stones darker and more defined with each layer.
There is a lot of time after the first few layers of colour where not a lot changes and when things do change then sometimes look horrible before the pieces of the image begin to come together. That’s one thing I don’t like about masking fluid. It distorts the colour and gives the whole piece a kind of sticky, snot-covered look.
This is the second in my series of posts about my illustration process, using Brian McClellan’s Powder Mage Trilogy as my source material.
I use graphite pencil here in a few different hardnesses usually from 2B to 2H which allows for a lot of different line weights and densities as I work out the finer details of the image.
In some drawings I’ll only ever go up to an HB to keep the pencil lines very light so they’ll have little impact on the final watercolour. Here I’m planning on a darker palatte so I’m not worried about the pencil line intruding.
There are a lot of what I call searching lines in the drawing here. (In some of my final drawings and pretty much all my sketches you can find a lot more.) These are the marks where I’m looking for just the angle I want and instead of erasing I just keep putting the pencil down until I find it.
On some pieces that’s not such a good idea. If I want the final to be super clean and light then I will go back and erase every line I put down until I find the right one. (Though the more you practice the sooner you find the right one.) However, with a darker palette and the style of the image I’m ok with leaving the pencil shadows in here.
This is also often the step where I can hang out for a long time… As long as I’m delving further into detail with pencil I can always back out, erase, and fix. But as soon as I go in with watercolour I’m committed. But as soon as I’m done dawdling around with my pencils and I’ve got a final drawing I’m happy with, it’s time for colour.
If I have time I sometimes let the final drawing sit for a day or so just like a draft when I’m writing. That way if there are any funky bits that I didn’t notice on the earlier sitting, I can usually pick them up and fix them before I go in for the finish.