The balloon kid

At one point, feeling like I had no inspiration for new images, I turned to Facebook for suggestions, and my Dad offered me several, including, “a kid with a balloon tied around his wrist which is lifting him off the ground, while his mother walks along with him, unaware.” I really liked this suggestion and decided to sketch it out:

I wanted to add a little bit of background, so I decided to set the scene in a park, and added flowers and a bench. I texted my wife for outfit suggestions for the mother, since I’m not really into fashion. I’m not sure why I chose toned paper for my original sketch, because it was difficult to get a nice printout to use for inking. After adjusting the levels and making other tweaks in Photoshop, I was able to print out the sketch to transfer to watercolor paper on my light table:

My first attempt at colors was fairly straightforward in terms of color choices, but I messed up while painting the sky, and I felt like adding the sky was taking away from the impact of the balloon, so I decided to try and add a shape in the background instead, and get rid of the bench and flowers. That strategy didn’t really work for me either:

I messed up the subsequent inks a couple of times, and eventually decided to just go with teh simple background and white sky. Even on my final version, I made a couple of mistakes with the colors, but fortunately I was able to correct them in Photoshop:

This is one of those images which took several attempts to get right, but the end result was worth it. Thanks for reading!

Wild birthday party

birthday party fb
A friend of mine pointed out to me that I should have more images of groups of people in my portfolio, which is largely images of one or two figures. He also suggested that I should look at the portfolios of other illustrators and find an image to sort of recreate in my style while keeping the general content and feeling of the original image. I chose an image of a very chaotic birthday party with lots of kids running around doing stuff, a dog, a toddler, and a slightly overwhelmed parent. Here is my first sketch:
I felt like this conveyed the action and feeling I wanted, so I tightened up the pencils and in the process, made a few changes. I added a couple more kids to the background, sort of reposed the Mom so that it seemed like she was in danger of being tripped as she moved through the kids with the cake, and I decided that the kids would be playing with balloon animals and objects. Here is my tightened pencil sketch:
I then made a few more changes after looking at the image with fresh eyes, such as changing the position of the Mom’s legs, the position of the baby, making the pairs of balloons asymmetrical in relation to each other, and making some of the balloon strings more curly, which added even more to the feeling of movement and chaos.
I inked this image traditionally, scanned the inks, and added colors in Photoshop using  a brush that simulates the look of traditional watercolors. I think this image turned out very well, and was a good exercise for me.