Thursday, March 1, 2012

Matthew Cody's The Dead Gentleman Illustration, Stage Two

Ok, so the experiment continues with The Dead Gentleman illustration. Stage One was sketching out the linework, and at this point, I'm adding in color. So. let's see how that works.

The line is really just a guide for my colors, so the first thing I do is toss it on another layer and lower the opacity. Now, I just roughly scribble in some colors. It may be not be evident (or maybe it's painfully obvious) that almost every time I work on a new illustration I'm experimenting. Sometimes I start with greyscale tone, sometimes with color flats, sometimes there's no linework. This time I wanted a softer look so I brushed in some light color loosely, indicating lighting and some texture, and tried to proceed as if I were working on a traditional watercolor. How's it going to turn out? I don't know. Let's see.

I choose a character to start on and work the colors until I like what I see. That's Tommy Learner, he's a time-hopping adventurer who hails from early 1900s New York. In Matt Cody's The Dead Gentleman, Cody does a pretty thorough job of describing Tommy's clothing and accoutrements, so I had a decent blueprint to follow. Tommy's a street kid, so I didn't want to make his clothing seem too pristine. Given his point of origin and lifestyle, I guessed he'd be limited to well-worn clothing of earthy hues, with a respectable amount of turn-of-the-century grime worked into the fabric. But he's also been outfitted with insanely futuristic, steampunk gadgetry like a Tesla Stick, net-gun, wrist chronometer and a clockwork bird of amazing abilities and mysterious origin.

Then I work on Jezebel Lemon. She's also from New York but a more modern version than Tommy's, so she gets a cute haircut and contemporary clothing complete with rubber bracelets and running shoes. She also, by the way, gets a new mouth between the sketch stage and the painting stage. Originally, I liked her subtle facial expression. But the longer I worked on her the more apparent it became that she needed a more definite look of surprise and fear. What's she surprised and fearful about? I'm telling you, you gotta read the book. But I'll tell you this: The Dead Gentleman is packed with creeps and monsters of all varieties and a (flying) boatload of action.

How does the illustration progress from here? Honestly, I have only a vague idea. I'm just as interested to find out as you are. Normally I like to have a plan but I thought it'd be more of an adventure to fly blind this time. Let's hope it works out. -v

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