Cow with sunhat

Cow wearing a hat
It can be difficult to answer questions like, “How did you come up with the idea for a cow wearing a sun hat?” The truth is that I was in the shower and the image popped into my head: a cow, standing in some water, eating a water plant, wearing a sun hat. Why? I have no idea. I had to sketch it out though, before I forgot about it, so this is my attempt to get the idea on paper:

In the process of sketching, I decided to add a bird to the cow’s back, because it seemed right. Possibly I was influenced by seeing birds sitting on the backs of hippopotamuses in Africa. The bird needed something to do though, so then I drew a frog which the bird was watching. Here is my cleaned up sketch:

Here are my ink lines:

This is my color comp, done in Photoshop to help me work out colors before I jumped in with watercolors. I printed this out and had it on my watercoloring table while creating the final image.

When I was finished with the paints, I added some white highlights on the water with a white paint pen. This was fun to draw and paint, and I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out.

Girl and Frog

Girl with Frog

Ever since I was young, I’ve been fascinated by frogs. Their bulging eyes and cool coloration made them stand out to me, along with my inability to catch them. I caught plenty of toads, but frogs were scarce, making them all the more interesting and desirable.They are also remarkably hard to draw convincingly and I did plenty of bad frog drawings in my life before sort of getting a handle on the finer points of frog anatomy. I’m sure that my inability to catch as many frogs as a child as I would have liked played into the idea for this image of a young girl who has caught a massive bullfrog. Here’s my initial sketch:

As you can see, I wasn’t sure whether to have the frog’s mouth open or closed, but overall, I stayed with this basic composition through to the finished image. Next, I added more details, figured out what the frog should look like, what the little girl should be wearing, and all that good stuff.

In my mind I saw this girl sort of as a little farm girl whose front adult teeth have just come in, so they’re very prominent. I also decided she’d be wearing overalls instead of a dress, but would be barefoot. After sitting on the image for a little while, I decided to give her teeth less definition, and make the frog’s head smaller. I also added some wrinkles to the frog’s neck where the girls hands are pressing into it, which help to give the frog a sense of weight and helps to sell idea that these two characters are interacting. Here is the finalized pencil sketch:

Now satisfied with my pencil sketch, I inked the image and made some color choices. I decided to give the girl red hair, and at the last minute gave her a bunch of freckles. The standard “shorthand” in illustrating for freckles is three dots on the cheek and maybe one on the nose, but the people I know with freckles have many, many more than that, and I wanted to try to incorporate that into this image.

Unfortunately, she looked like she had chicken pox or something. I was bummed. It was also clear that I had over-inked her hair, so the red wasn’t really showing through. I decided to re-ink the image and start over, ending up with the image at the top of the post. I made sure not to ink her hair so much, and to not make the line for the frog’s mouth so thick, and then gave her fewer freckles and made her hair a brighter shade or orange. Over all, I think the image is better for it. Well, that’s the story of this image…thanks for stopping by!

Monk and Frog

Monk and frog

Today I present a simple monk and a frog he found. For this one, I decided that I really wanted to do a simpler coloring style than with the images I’ve posted up previously. While learning to use watercolors, I was initially attempting to emulate the style of an illustrator named Peter de Seve, however, it became clear to me that I wasn’t really ready to try to emulate his style of painting. I still like his style a LOT, but I decided that it would probably be better to get a handle on a simpler style of coloring, and then maybe move up.

This image began as a little doodle sketch I did one night. I try to make time to just draw and let my mind wander, in the hope that I’ll find a spark of inspiration in one of the doodles. In this case, I drew a bald guy with glasses who sort of looked to me like the Dalai Lama, so I gave him what I thought looked like Tibetan monk’s robes (I later discovered that I was way, way off), and drew him holding a frog because of the reverence with which they tend to give nature. Here is that first doodle, quickly inked with a ball point pen:

Upon review, I realized that his arms were too long, and his legs were too short. I also decided to give the frog a smug look instead of a disgruntled look, as if he’s now used to being carried around by this monk, and is pleased that he’s found what he considers to be “the sweet life.” I redrew this image to incorporate these changes, and liked the results a lot more. I then did some google image research to see what Tibetan monks wear, and discovered that the fabric is wrapped around the body much more than I had drawn it, and there was often a big piece that draped down their front which would provide me the opportunity to put in a lot of interesting wrinkles and folds, so I updated his clothing. Here is my pencil sketch:

Raccoon and Frog

raccoonThe first image I completed for my portfolio is this raccoon and frog. Is the raccoon stalking the frog or just being friendly? The frog isn’t sure.

The first project my mentor, Travis Foster, gave me was to look at the portfolios of hundreds of illustrators on several illustrator advertising websites. The point was to look at the various styles of currently working illustrator and decide what I liked and what I didn’t. Through this exercise I discovered that I really like watercolor illustrations more than any other medium. Second would be illustrations colored with the computer. The illustrators I liked the most were Brian Ajhar and Peter de Sève. If you look at them both, their watercoloring and drawing styles are very similar. Their artwork tends to look like watercolors on top of pencil drawings, with very complex colors created by many layers of various watercolor washes. Travis was able to show me a bit about their watercoloring process, which I then tried to apply to this raccoon and frog.

Here is one of my early pencil sketches for this illustration:

As you can see, in the final version I made the frog larger, the raccoon thinner, and changed the shape of the dark areas around the eyes. I also changed the details of the rocks around him, and, in turn, his pose so that he has a bit more personality and so that there is a bit more of a story in the illustration.

– eli