An illustrator’s job is never done. After finishing the artwork for ‘The Story Circle,’ I had another book illustration waiting in the side lines. The end product for this Art Nouveau WIP rough is an illustration plate for a short story in an anthology.
The story is a retelling of one of my all time favorite fairy tale classics, “East of the Sun, West of the Moon.” The author decided to reset the tale in a post apocalyptic world with smatterings of science fiction and Steam punk elements. I read the story several dozen times to soak up the personalities of the sisters and in the end, also developed a chart for each one to keep their physical and emotional traits clear while I developed the imagery to go with the story.
I started with a series of tiny thumbnail sketches to work out the layout and silhouettes of all the characters. If you are at all familiar with the story, you’ll notice the lack of a bear. Yup, there’s no bear. You’ll have to read the book to see how the author replaced such a major character. 😉
As you can see these are really, really rough doodles of idea. I decided the one I marked ‘this one’ had the strongest layout and got to work on collecting reference samples of the items I wanted to include in the final art. Wagon wheels, coins, eagles, roses and steam punk costuming as well as the black smithing tool for one sister and the ray blast gun for the other.
If you notice in some of the scribbles, there are two additional male characters. While they do have feature roles in the story, they were not as central to what I thought the story was about, so I decided to leave them out of the illustration. This image is a black and line art work for the publication and I thought adding the additional characters would be too busy and confusing in my highly detailed style for this Art Nouveau WIP rough.
I use a free software called DAZstudio to create models in the poses I want. If I could have real models in costume it would be a sight easier to manage, but you do what you have to with the tools you have available. Besides where would I be able to get a ray gun?
I cobble together my models, my reference and my rough framing idea in Photoshop and print out the resultant mess. Luckily, the final piece was a dimension that fit easily on a piece of copy paper. I slip the print out under a clean sheet in my trace paper pad and pulled out my Mucha art book and settled in to sketch my rough pencil full size image. There are a lot of steps for an Art Nouveau WIP rough.
As you can see, I add a lot of details to the sketch as I go, details not present in the cobbled together printout. A lot of these ideas have been percolating in my brain since I received the manuscript weeks ago.
I work for several hours sketching, erasing and sketching some more. Good stopping place for today for this Art Nouveau WIP rough. That sleeve is giving me fits. Time to don a jacket and take some reference selfies.