Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Folktales go Steampunk

Hi everyone!  I've been busy the past few months on a bunch of projects, but particularly the mock-project for the Indiana SCBWI conference.  I had an opportunity to do a sample project with Joann Hill, Art Director at Disney Hyperion, as part of a special workshop for the conference.  The participating illustrators were all given the same text from classic fairytales/folktales, and had to come up with an original, unique interpretation.  I worked with text from "The Swineherd", which I had never heard of before.  I was struck by the princess's obsession with gadgets, and disdain of the "natural".  I felt that this pointed towards a steampunk interpretation of the tale.  So, I had a bunch of fun creating mechanical creatures and outfits inspired by the Victorian era...but with a little mechanical flair!  Here is the finished product:

A few "illustrator" details to point out.... The pig farmer is actually a prince in disguise.  So, in the costume designs, only the princess and the farmer wear gold, and the gold straw hat alludes to the prince's crown.  Also, the prince's "farmer" outfit has elements in common with his princely outfit.  Both have gold on his head (crown/hat), red around the neck (ribbon/scarf) and a diagonal across the chest (sash/overall strap). I wanted the costumes to relate to each other, so that you can make a visual associate between the prince and his farmer disguise, to see that he really is the same person.

Aside from this illustration workshop, there was also a picturebook workshop that I really enjoyed.  Joann gave examples of really great visual storytelling, and the concept that stuck with me the most was the "creating a visual climax".  Joann suggested finding the climax of the story, and thinking about what that image would look like, and how it would differ from the rest of the book, and then working outward from that.  Maybe all of the other pages have the characters at the same scale, and the "climax" page shows them large, for example.  Also, the images can create a sense of pace.  Maybe there is a spread or two of man small images, suggesting many small quick actions, and then a page of "rest", where there is one large complete image. I had never had these concepts articulated to me before, and am now looking at picturebooks differently.  Not just pages of collected great images, but more like visual paragraphs...images that lead up to other images, and that have pacing and a point to be made.  It was very enriching.

Also at the conference, I was one of the 5-minute "spotlight speakers" and gave a short talk about my transition into digital art.  I think that the attendees liked it...many came up to me afterwards to ask additional questions about "going digital", particularly my experiences with the Cintiq.  There was a portfolio display as well, and the editors and art directors who came marked their favorites in each portfolio.  For my portfolio, most everyone liked the images of the teen girl in the swimming pool (the one I posted in February) and images from my "Kathryn & Elizabeth" book.  I am always interested by what images clients/potential clients are attracted to.  It usually surprises me!

Aside from the conference, I've also been working on some promotional images, with a slightly softer look than my previous pieces.  Here are some of my newest: