Reworking an old illustration from my first picture book.

Last summer we moved to Seattle. In the process of packing and moving my studio, I ran across my first book illustration project (among many other things)
It was one my favorite projects, and like finding an old friend. A simple 8 page reader an education book series. And, it got me thinking. 

"If I got this project today, 
what would my art look like?" 

I've spend the past 18 months revamping my portfolio and refining my process. So it seemed like a good idea to take what I've learned and apply it to an old image. So, I did. 

COMPARISON: Then and Now

Do you notice anything else different about these images? Because of some edits I had to re-shoot the reference photos for this image and my model was out of town. In order to make my book deadline, I had my daughter stand in as the model. I morphed the original models head that I replicated with other photos. Sneeky, huh?

DRAWING: The foundation.

I don't have samples of my original drawings on the old line art. Here in my new line art I am mindful of the line-work, making sure I know exactly what is going on before I start painting. In my old approach I only drew lines to mark where to paint, meaning I drew with my paint brush and hoped that things would work. Now I use line as part of the design, with intent. It's a more stylized look that allows the image to hold it's own, without paint. Above: The first image defines the hard lines. In the second image I've added in detail and pattern that will improve interest in the final composition.
WHAT I LEARNED: Be careful not to rush onto the next thing before you're really sure what you want to do. It was hard to admit, but I was rushing through a step because it was hard. Making myself follow through has helped not only my image, but I am much faster. And if you are working on 32 pages, that can really come in handy.

SETTING THE TONE: Primary color glazing.

In order to get the glow in my image I glaze the entire sheet with yellow. Then I lay on red and blue to create the cool spots. This also pops the yellow. You can see how the yellow is toned down in the second image.  But as things build you'll see that it's still there waiting to pop! 

ADDING THE COLOR: Simple washes.

Now, I start building the image. Sometimes I go straight for the pure color, and some times I build with glazes. Things are starting to come together.

VALUES: Lights and darks.

You can see the golden glow coming through. Now I need to make sure my values are correct. You can see here that the color between her shadowed hair is darker than the backgound. They need to read as the same value. This is what pushes back the darks into the background. Need to fix that.


It's simpler and cleaner than my original image. I tried to keep it to only four values of each color. This gives it the flatter more stylized look in my new work. And, I'm feeling focused again, and having fun. 


  1. I saw this illustration on the SCBWI web site and traveled over to your portfolio. I'm writing a middle grades novel, but I'm also finding my way back to art. I really appreciated seeing your artistic process. It's easier to tell where I need improvement (I'm definitely rushing through the layers). Thanks for sharing!

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts