My wife suggested to me that I should draw an armadillo in a bowler hat. Why a bowler hat? I’m not sure what her reasoning was, but for me it was an opportunity to create a reason why he would be wearing it. I began sketching out ideas, and on this page you can see me working out several ideas for this fine armored fellow. Eventually I put him in a sport coat, holding flowers, and checking his pocket watch (because if you have a bowler hat and a sport coat, you definitely are carrying a pocket watch!):
You can see that I played around with the angle of the flowers and his pose until I hit on what seemed to be a good combination. You’ll also notice that I ditched the bowler hat in favor of showing off his ears, which make him look distinctly like an armadillo. When I painted him, I painted his jacket brown, because that is the color I think of when I think of a sports jacket (and I’m not sure why that is), but once I was done painting, I decided that the brown was too close to the color of his body, and I also realized I had missed an opportunity to use the jacket color as the center of attention. Enter the incredible technological power of Photoshop, with which I was able to create some other color options for the jacket while maintaining the watercolor textures and shading of the painting:
With some help from my friends, I decided that I liked my navy blue option the best, and so that is now the final jacket color in my illustration. I’m really happy with how this turned out, and every time I see it, I wonder if he made it to his date on time, and how it went. I’m definitely rooting for this little guy!
Duck and hound
This image was originally done as a black and white illustration for a book of short stories about a very precocious basset hound. In this story, the dog makes friends with a duck, and they would often fall asleep snuggled together. I thought that my drawing of them turned out very sweet, and after turning in the finished illustration, decided that I wanted to do a watercolor version based on my pencil sketch. Here is my pencil drawing:
This is the vector line art of this image that was printed in the book:
I did three versions of the watercolor version, trying to get the gradient of the sky and the shadows on the dog and on the ground to look right. I used some masking fluid create the moon and stars. This third attempt felt pretty good, and I’m pleased with the result.
Pig in stroller
A few years ago my niece delightedly told me about going to the park and seeing a pig that was being rolled around in a stroller. I thought that was an engaging visual image and decided to try and turn it into a painting. I drew a girl who sort of looks like my niece, timidly approaching a pig in a stroller. I decided that I would have her holding flowers, as if she might be thinking the pig might like to smell or eat them. Here is my first sketch:
I decided that there wasn’t enough context for where this was happening, so I added some background that looked like a park:
I felt like the park bench was sort of crowding the scene, so I changed it around and added a tree:
I decided to paint the pig brown instead of the standard pink, largely because pet pigs tend to be colors other than pink. Over all, I think this one turned out pretty well.
This is my take on the Mole from Wind in the Willows. In March of this year, I became an uncle to a little girl named Willow and her dad (my younger brother) mentioned to me that if I had any ideas for art to decorate her room, I should feel free to indulge those ideas. The room was going to be a nature themed room and so as I thought about it, the characters from the Wind in the Willows naturally came to mind.
I’ve liked the Wind in the Willows since I first read it, and have liked the illustrations that others have done for the book, but I decided to try and update the characters a little bit in my renditions of them. The book was first printed in 1908, and since the book describes the characters as wearing clothes, most illustrators place them in the common dress from that period of time in England. This makes for quaint and charming little critters, running around in their coats and hats, but doesn’t really reflect current fashion trends. For this illustration, I tried to dispatch with my mental images created by other illustrations I’d seen, and try to show my modern take on the Mole.
The very beginning of the book finds the Mole doing some spring cleaning, and suddenly, for some reason, coming up out of his underground tunnel and being overcome by the beauty of the outside world. It’s hard for me to imagine anyone doing spring cleaning in nice clothes, so I chose to garb him in overalls. I also gave him large glasses, partly for comedic effect, and partly because moles as a species have very poor eyesight. I did try to stay true to the anatomy of a mole in most respects, so you’ll see that his hands are the large tunneling paws specific to moles, and his toes are oddly splayed like most mole feet. I’m not sure that moles have ears like that, but I needed something to have the arms of his glasses rest on, and I don’t think they are too distracting. I mean…he is wearing clothes after all.
For those interested, here is my pencil drawing of the mole.