The Road to Portfolio pieces

In seven weeks, I’m going to the Fall retreat for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators here in Wisconsin. It’s my first time going and Im’ awfully curious. The problem is that I’ve signed up for a portfolio review and I don’t actually have a portfolio. I’ve got 2 completely full sketchbooks from the last couple of years, but that’s hardly something that I want to show an art director. So, it’s crunch time. I’m going to work my tail off for the next few weeks and try to get several things ready to show off for the retreat. In seven weeks, I hope to have four pieces to show off and a finished copy of Where’s Mousy (see last post).

The first step is to learn how to digitize pencil drawings. Until I get that worked out, you’ll have to put up with cruddy images that have been scanned or photographed under low lighting. My scanner leaves a lot to be desired.

The second step, though, is some thumbnails. I’ve already done basic thumbnails for all four pieces. I’m going to have one piece on the story Beauty and the Beast, one for the Pied Piper of Hamlin, one for Jack the Giant Killer, and one that isn’t related to any story.

Check out the first two.

Initial sketch for Beauty and the Beast
Sketch 1 for Beauty and the Beast

On my first go at Beauty and the Beast, I wanted a piece that showed the difference between the two main characters and gave a bit of an ominous tone to the whole thing. I decided to go with a shot of Beauty pulling back a curtain to peak at the beast. She’d be a bit disheveled in a night dress or something of the sort. Behind the curtain, I wanted to show the beast. Initially I came up with this idea. I liked the pose for Beauty, but I didn’t like the beast at all.

sketch 2 of Beauty and the Beast
Concept 2 for Beauty and the Beast

In the second version, I brought the beast much closer to the curtain, making the scene a bit more intimate and brought some darkness in around him adding to the sense of danger. I think it sits much better and I like the overall feel of this one. My daughter things that the beast looks like Chewbacca (I kind of agree), but I hope that he’ll come off less hairy in the final piece.

For the Pied Piper, I wanted to do a scene that showed the Piper right after being denied his payment by the Mayor of Hamlin. I wanted to show the Piper walking away with a dark smile on his face and give the Mayor and his cohorts worried expressions as though this isn’t quite how they expected this to play out. When I was done with it, it seemed like it needed a little something in the lower left-hand corner of the piece, so I added a boy, smiling at the piper to hint at what is to come. When I originally thought this scene out, I wanted the piper to have a cat – it seemed just natural. But, it didn’t work into this shot, so I had to give the cat to the boy. I hope he cares for it well (now that there aren’t rats for it to eat).

Pied Piper of Hamlin

One thought on “The Road to Portfolio pieces

  1. I like the idea of the B and the B image but I think the composition needs a little more drama. As it stands now, it’s very half and half and as a result is static. Make one of them dominant. Try Beauty as the main subject and she is just pulling back the curtain. In the shadows is just revealed (maybe just hinted at) an imposing presence of the beast. Make him larger than life.

    Better yet do this: You work best as a designer (taking pieces and fitting them together). So why not draw each piece as a separate element, cut them out and play with them – making some exaggerated versions just to bust out of your comfort zone?

    Same with the Pied Piper. It’s a much stronger image but I would like to see the piper more dominant and townspeople less so in the composition. Cut them into pieces and play.

    Can’t wait to see how they turn out!

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