Mac McCool - Children's Book Illustrations and Graphic Novels

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Making of Treasure Island Illustration


My process often involves going back and forth between traditional and digital tools. I use whichever tool gives the fastest and best results. For the Treasure Island illustration, I took the time to polish it, so I used a few more steps than I usually do. Here they are, as best as I can remember.

1. Sketching several thumbnails in pencil
2. Quick inking of "good" lines in "good" thumbnail
3. Create a mock architecture structure (the doorway & ceiling beams of the inn with stand-in characters for scale) in Google's SketchUp to see how far I could play with a the emotional and compositional perspective I had in mind without making it look impossible in the real world
3. Scan thumbnail
4. Enlarge thumbnail in Photoshop and test various composition changes (scale of the characters, fine-tuning the framing of the image, etc.)
5. Print thumbnail (enlarged to about 8.5" x 11") in light colored ink (pale yellow)
6. Draw over the thumbnail with Prismacolors the details in the image (gradually going darker with the Prismas as I confirm and refine the details over sketch lines)
7. Scan
8. As needed, I will redo steps 5 through 7 until I have a clean and solid drawing before the final inking (and I sometimes ink over some of these drawings to get an early feel for the inking)
9. In Photoshop, try different primary lighting sources and moods
10. For this project, where I wanted to polish the inking, I printed with light colored ink my image and did a fairly "final" inking pass (with an ink brush), which I then scanned for the next step
11. Make (grayscale) value studies in Photoshop to fine-tune and accentuate lighting effects for mood and for directing the viewer's gaze
12. Print with light colored ink
13. Final inking with ink brush
14. Scan
15. Minor retouches in Photoshop (to knock out the light ink color of the "underprint" and to fix any inking "goofs")

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