Adventures of an Illustrator (update: illustration 1 WIP, final images link)
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  1. #1
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    Adventures of an Illustrator (update: illustration 1 WIP, final images link)

    **EDIT: I've added a new thread for finished images (link). I'll be posting finals there as I finish.**

    2/12 EDIT: Semi-final cover & center spread illustrations & the next WIP below!

    I'm putting together a promotional illustrated mini-book on the theme of the (somewhat embellished) autobiographical adventures of a freelance illustrator.
    This is my tentatively finished main/cover illustration and center spread:

    And the next in-progress image:


    I could use some fresh eyes to spot potential problems or tweaks that could make for stronger images!

    Last edited by wylielise; February 12th, 2012 at 03:49 PM. Reason: progress update.
    malice, whimsy, and illustration.
    www.wyliebeckert.com
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  2. #2
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    Fantastic work Can't wait to see more! Subscribed!

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    EDIT: I wrote some stuff, but then I looked at your website and you probably already know everything I said. Great stuff!

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    Nice Pic! Soft color make it look great.

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    Hi Wylielise, nice work man.
    One thing i´d do is the balanceweight of line. You could use thicker lines for thing closer to the viewer and thin lines for things far away, specially the clouds, diferents thickness add depth.
    Another thing is the pose of the arm and hand, try to do the pose yourself and see if its confortable to you.
    I hope it can help
    Keep it up!

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  6. #6
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    Thanks for the input - the pose of the back arm has been bothering me since the sketch stage, but after taking a few reference photos it seemed to be in the right position and angle... The arms are proportionally short, but lengthening them seems to gives a sort of yeti-ish look.

    If anyone can spot the problem/solution, I'd love a paintover... or thoughts on whether it would be better to hide the entire contraption in the coat pocket.

    Almost done with the finishing on this one - I'll post the final (and hopefully some sketches for the companion pieces) soon.

    malice, whimsy, and illustration.
    www.wyliebeckert.com
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  7. #7
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    zephyri is offline professional guacamole maker Level 5 Gladiator: Myrmillo
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    gorgeous looking cover! Only a couple of minor suggestions - I think you could do away with that slight crease in the back of her right leg (as we view it), as it would read just as well as the outer lines, and currently makes her leg look a bit muscley or lumpy! I also think the plcement of the crumple in the boot is suggesting her ankle is quite high up her leg, maybe if that was shifted down toward where the ankle is, it might be a better instant read.

    Have you tried adding a couple of crease folds in the jacket round the elbow to help sell the idea her arm is receding in space? Not sure if it'll work, just a thought!

    And finally... this is just personal preference, and maybe a bit of the inner designer in me, but I can't help but feel just a small flash of colour near the face of the character would instantly make you focus on her first, and give the eye a start point to travel round the image... could be something like a coloured lining on the clothes, or on the paintbrushes and such... just a pleasing little trinket in amoung the browns to add a bit of happy to the image. Course if you planned the whole colour scheme deliberately, ignore this suggestion!

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    awesome image

    the groundwork is all there I suggest just punching it up a bit separate the elements the foremost to the background.......did this quick maybe it helps don't know...
    Name:  Screen-shot-2012-01-25-at-6.51.14-PM.jpg
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    anyways just my thought....I totally dig the image and am only trying to give my two pennies in hopes that you can make it the best image it can be.....

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    Thanks to everyone for the input on the cover! My final (link)still needs some tweaking, but I'm holding off until I have the details of the accompanying images nailed down. In the meantime, here's my WIP for one of the interior illustrations - this one's going to be the center spread in the finished book. Feedback much appreciated!

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    Beyond the general finishing, I think I need to make the forest leafier, and the right-hand darks lighter. Thoughts?

    malice, whimsy, and illustration.
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    Wow! I really love this. Great style. I wouldn't change a thing.

    Very creative and whimsical.

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    See more work at beastmasterjr.deviantart.com
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    I really like it, can't think of anything to crit on it.

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    Mm, the "seeks stories" label could pop up a little more, the character kinda steals the attention from the title at the moment.

    Love the style though, how are you going to be releasing this when it's ready?

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    Thanks all!

    EelisK, I'm planning to use this as a promotional mailer to art directors at publishing houses. I'm going to hand-bind the images into books to send to the companies that my work would be the most suited to, and use the cover image as a postcard mailer to the rest of my list.

    I figure that since the project will have about 10 images and feature some of the subjects I like drawing (girl characters, spooky forests, critters) it will make an effective mini-portfolio while being a little bit different and hopefully eye-catching, and showing my abilities with storytelling, consistent portrayal of characters, etc. Of course if anyone with more self-promo experience has a different opinion on it, I'd love to hear it.

    malice, whimsy, and illustration.
    www.wyliebeckert.com
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  14. #14
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    Spread finished, and I'm getting started on the next illustration!
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    malice, whimsy, and illustration.
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    Nice, clean and fresh...
    I'd love to know more about your working process, maybe through a sketchbook thread or in here all the same.

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  16. #16
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    These look good! Three thoughts--the first two are my highly-subjective opinion and the third is a technical point:

    1. As I've said before about your stuff, the scenes and poses feel a bit "stock"...I feel like I've seen about a million "plucky teen heroine being chased by monster" pictures already. If I were an art director, I'd probably be more likely to notice something that projected a more specific and memorable narrative..."girl shoveling amoebas into a giant blender," for example, is going to stay in one's memory a lot longer than "girl standing on cliff and surveying landscape." Something to consider going forward.

    2. I find the zombie-eyes and thousand-yard stare that almost *all* your characters seem to have to be kind of distracting. Again, if I were an art director, I'd be concerned about your ability to convey other expressions. How you draw eyes is obviously a long-term issue of style, but you might want to spend some time thinking about it.

    The above two are, as I said, my highly-subjective opinion and after you have ignored me and become wildly successful anyway you can laugh at me. #3 is fairly important, though:

    3. The colors you happen to be using are going to be a LOT darker and less saturated on press than they are on your monitor. Part of this is that one's eye doesn't see colors in isolation (you can eyedropper various areas to see what I mean--notice how much darker those tones seem against a white background) and part of it is that *all* colors that aren't *really* pure and bright (M75 Y100, for example) get a *lot* darker and greyer on press. You should really really really talk to your printer and get some kind of proof before you go any further, because you will probably want to repaint some or all of these when you see how they're going to print. JPEG below.

    As always, just my two cents--except for #3, which is a statement of fact.



    Last edited by Giacomo; February 12th, 2012 at 07:02 PM.
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  17. #17
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    Elemile - thanks for the kind words! I definitely want to set up a sketchbook thread... It's first on my list once I get some free time.

    Giacomo - thanks for the brutal honesty as always.
    Your first point brings up an interesting question (for me at least) - I'd always been told that art directors have a tendancy to hire out specific jobs to artists whose work reflects similar subject matters (the guy with a portfolio full of bicycles will be a safer pick for a bike novel than one who paints trees, even if they're really good trees).

    So is there risk, despite being memorable for a really non-run of the mill piece, never having an art director with an ordinary project think of you first until the "Amoeba Milkshake Escapade" project crosses their desk? Or is that a less pertinent concern than getting lost in a sea of similar content? And on a side note: Can I jack your amoeba blender idea? Seriously, that would be a brilliant illustration. Too bad it's a little late for an amoeba rewrite on this particular project...

    The eyes - Now that I think of it, that's the facial expression I myself get accused of wearing - it's offputting in real life too, apparently. I'll admit the way I draw them needs something of an overhaul; I seem to have stylized myself into a corner on that one. I think if I take care of #1 (less neutral scenes) it may help #2 (less justification for neutral expressions).


    Printing - yes, ever since the time I got a nice even page of black from the printers I do tests and generally have different versions of an image for print and for web display given how dark and desaturated I work. Should I avoid putting the darker versions out there (on the assumption that potential clients are going to have the same concerns you have)? Is there some sort of compromise given the different monitor calibrations a portfolio piece will be viewed with... other than sending out decent looking printed promos?


    Edit:
    Here's my rough sketch for a revised facial expression, alongside original. I was going for hopeful/optimistic/oblivious; I think I wanted it more focused and less smarmy than the sketch ended up. I asked a passer-by what they thought the expression was, and they said "stoned." Back to the drawing board, I guess.



    Last edited by wylielise; February 12th, 2012 at 10:41 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by wylielise View Post
    Giacomo - thanks for the brutal honesty as always...Your first point brings up an interesting question (for me at least) - I'd always been told that art directors have a tendancy to hire out specific jobs to artists whose work reflects similar subject matters (the guy with a portfolio full of bicycles will be a safer pick for a bike novel...
    I love your work and I would be immensely flattered if you did an "Amoeba Milkshake Escapade" piece. I only ask that you mail me a signed hi-rez print of the final art.

    Regarding marketing: I had a conversation last week with a friend of mine who is a successful kids-book illustrator, and her brutally honest advice (we illustrators are known for our brutal honesty) to me was: "ADs need to trust that you know and understand children and their world well in order to have you take on a picture book." (You can substitute "young adult" where appropriate to your own case.) So if you keep that goal uppermost in mind, I imagine you'll be OK. That said: art directors receive a truly staggering volume of YA illustration promos on the theme of "Plucky Girl Is Plucky," and I'd venture to say that 95% of them end up in the trash owing to their genericity of their pluckiness. So that's my advice: know your readership and make your promos distinctive and memorable. I suspect if you do that, ADs will have faith in your ability to handle wide-ranging subject matter.

    Quote Originally Posted by wylielise View Post
    The eyes - Now that I think of it, that's the facial expression I myself get accused of wearing - it's offputting in real life too, apparently. I'll admit the way I draw them needs something of an overhaul; I seem to have stylized myself into a corner on that one. I think if I take care of #1 (less neutral scenes) it may help #2 (less justification for neutral expressions).
    See "know your readership" in my screed above. My gut feeling--although I cannot say for sure, having no daughters of my own in that age range--is that teenage girls who read YA fantasy novels would probably appreciate illustrations that depict well the subtle emotional states that the aloof-yet-plucky protagonist is going through. In fact, I'd venture to suggest that if you can do that well, you will make a f*ckton of money. (And if you do, please send me some---because given the present state of editorial illustration I may well be living under a bridge at that point.)

    Quote Originally Posted by wylielise View Post
    Printing - yes, ever since the time I got a nice even page of black from the printers ... Is there some sort of compromise given the different monitor calibrations a portfolio piece will be viewed with... other than sending out decent looking printed promos?
    My comments were about *print* only. The online versions of your pieces all look fine to me. The range of monitors and browsers out there is so vast that it's basically impossible to insure any kind of consistency--so I wouldn't even try, on the assumption that anyone with money to hire you will also be able to afford a decent, well-calibrated monitor.

    Hope that is of some use. Onward.

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    Hi again-

    The updated face is a step in the right direction. I suppose my larger advice is "work toward a style that allows you to convey a wider and more subtle range of facial expressions", which is so generalized that it's of no use whatsoever in this context. In the shorter term, I'd say, lose the scarf so we can see her chin, and also take the risk of giving her some fairly naturalistic eyeballs--cornea, pupil and all that--for the sake of letting the viewer feel what she's feeling at that moment.

    I realize I'm sort of art-directing you at this point....feel free to tell me to shove off. I need to crash soon in any case.

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  20. #20
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    Giacomo - can't tell you how useful all this advice is, and the art direction is always welcome.

    I'm probably going to soldier towards completion on this project (I've got ~3 illustrations to do after this one, and plenty of work to beset me along the way) and then double back and see what can be done with the faces, probably starting from scratch.

    And at least now I have that bright shining f*ckton of money to aim for.

    malice, whimsy, and illustration.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by wylielise View Post
    I'm probably going to soldier towards completion on this project (I've got ~3 illustrations to do after this one, and plenty of work to beset me along the way) and then double back and see what can be done with the faces, probably starting from scratch.
    You're welcome. I think that's a good plan.

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    Wow, I really like the style of your illustrations. :-D

    The one thing that is bothering me is the "SEEKS STORIES" text on the cover illustration. It just doesn't look right, nor does it really fit with the rest of the image (everything else is good though IMO). If you really want a white stroke around the text, I'd recommend setting the stroke to expand only outwards, not both directions, as it is messing up the individual letters. However, you might not even want a white stroke at all. Plain dark text might work better. Or perhaps darken the banner, and use a lighter value for the text. One other thing you might want to change is making the letters not quite so different in size and alignment.

    Everything else though is very good. There is something about your illustration style that I just really like. (Almost like I wish I could do the same. )

    EDIT: Here is an attached picture I quickly threw together with the "SEEKS STORIES" text redone in a more simple manner. I don't have the typeface you used, and my letters could undoubtedly be aligned a little better, but IMHO something along these lines would work better. ;-)

    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Last edited by jdp89; February 14th, 2012 at 07:12 PM.
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  23. #23
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    Thanks jdp89 - definitely an improvement. Simpler is always better... Why do I always forget that?

    malice, whimsy, and illustration.
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    Quote Originally Posted by wylielise View Post
    Simpler is always better...
    Not necessarily. I think your original type treatment has more character than jdp89's version, which feels a bit "generic YA fantasy font" to me.

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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Giacomo View Post
    Not necessarily. I think your original type treatment has more character than jdp89's version, which feels a bit "generic YA fantasy font" to me.
    My font choice was limited by what I had on my computer at the moment. It definitely was not meant to be the end-all or be-all. ;-)

    On the original version the white stroke was destroying the shape of the letters and hampering readability. I strongly feel that removing the stroke (or at least changing it to only expand outwards) was the right choice.

    That said, I do agree that simpler isn't always better. While this is almost always true in logo design, there are times when other forms of commercial art are more effective with more complex designs. (In fine art however, simplicity vs. complexity is somewhat irrelevant, as both have their place.)

    I design for a living. I create art for fun.
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