Monday, April 18, 2011

A moose in progress

Well, I'm thinking it's probably my turn to contribute to this blog. I have been working on a couple of educational books that will be used in the classroom, so I will show you some of what I have been doing. You can click on an image to see it larger.

There are 23 pages in each book, and the first thing I do is quickly sketch some thumbnails of what is in the book, just to get an idea of what I will be drawing. These are so rough that I am probably the only one who can tell what they are.

The two characters in the book are moose. I did lots of moose drawings with various items of clothing as suggested by the art director. I really thought the two legged moose was the way to go since they were anthropomorphized. This would allow them to fit into the various scenes in the book easily. The art director felt the same, but after much discussion the other powers insisted that they wanted four legged moose. I didn't think this would be nearly as fun looking as a two legged moose, so I had to keep reminding myself of the Golden Rule. "He who has the gold, makes the rules."

I go through SO many sheets of copy paper drawing things over and over till I work everything out. I am glad copy paper is so cheap and I do recycle it all at the end of the project. Here is the sketch for page three. During a phone conversation with the art director I was told to add a stream to the picture. There were lots of changes. It seems nothing is really nailed down in the story. Anything is subject to change if it would make the story better. I repeat the Golden Rule again as I add a stream.

I am a blend of old school and digital. I really like to draw with pencil on paper, and I really like the feel of inking. I put a sheet of vellum over my pencil sketch and ink it in using the old crow quill and india ink. The boo-boos I make in inking are easily cleaned up in Photoshop. I used to have a big jar of white out that I used all the time... but no more.

Here is the scan I made of the line art. This is scanned as black & white art at 300 dpi. Then it is converted to CMYK for coloring.

Here is the finished colored page. I like that I can color the black lines on some things like the mountains to push them back and leave them on the moose to make him pop out. They like the books to use lots of bright colors. I do a bit of tweaking to the color and make some soft clouds, but the coloring is pretty basic. Nothing too fancy here. After I had finished the color on the whole book, I received one more change to make throughout the book. The farmer hat needed to be changed to a plaid hunting hat. Fortunately, with Photoshop this was a fairly easy change. So that's it! This isn't rocket science, but maybe someone out there will find it interesting.


  1. HEY DOUG,
    These are great and so fascinating to see your process.
    I want to see some of those 2 legged moose sketches just for fun.
    For my 2 cents--I'd rather not have a moose wearing a hunting hat - who is he hunting? himself?

  2. Hi Doug
    Great post explaining your working style. I can so relate to the traditional/digital mix....I have a huge sentimental attachment to my turquoise lead pencil (30+ years old!) and velum tracing paper. Yet I'm also scanning in traditional media artwork....and playing with it in Photoshop. Thanks for reminding me about using coloured lines in background objects to push them to the background....that may just be the thing I need to do in a drawing I'm working on right now.
    Nice caricature work!


  3. Anony... there are sketches of the two legged moose in the second photo.

    Alison... thanks! There is so much to learn in Photoshop. Right now I'm trying to figure out how to get texture into my work. There are so many ways to skin a cat...

  4. Doug, thanks for posting. It's nice to see the way you get started, that is exactly the way I start, too with tons and tons of sketches following the thumbnails roughs, I haven't been doing much coloring in photoshop yet, but I need to learn to stream line and that is on the agenda. great work! great posting! thanks!

  5. Great illustration! I work similarily, beginning with a traditionally rendered piece that I paint in Photoshop. I love your style, good luck on the rest of the book!
    Deb Gross SCBWI-WI

  6. This was so interesting to see your work step by step. Fun illustrations! The moose is full of personality, with his charming smile and the stalk of grass between his teeth. Thanks for sharing with us.