Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Illustrating is not as easy as it might seem. It's very difficult to listen to someone describe a scene (I may have it perfectly pictured in my mind) and then discover that it's not what they saw in their mind at all. For instance, try to picture a dog laying in front of a fire. That's easy for me, the dog is black and white, curled up in a ball and the fire is crackling merrily in a brick fireplace.

Some of you probably saw different colors or kinds of dogs. Some of you saw a fireplace, some pictured a campfire. Some had the dog all stretched out, some had him curled. See? Not as easy as it would seem.

Here's the description I was given for this next project, the cover of a book. The author wanted a glacier coming out of a mountain with an Aurora Borealis above it. The colors from the Aurora needed to be reflected in the mountains and glacier. Oh, and if that isn't hard enough we also need a glowing orb shining from within the glacier and a campfire scene out in front of the glacier.

First....glaciers and mountains are HUGE. It's almost impossible to physically get that on the same page, much less the sky scene also. Orb? What would an orb be doing in a glacier, glowing at that? And how to show it IN the glacier, but showing OUTSIDE the glacier? Oh, and if that's not enough on the page, lets add a campfire scene. I almost said no. But then decided to try it. After all the worse they could do is reject it and I would have had good practise at watercolor.

I painted the scene pretty much as depicted except that the Northern Lights on top is actually from another picture, my editor was able to piece it together. I had painted one picture with great Northern Lights but the glacier looked wrong, and another where the mountains and glacier looked good but the Northern Lights were wrong. Highest praise to the inventors of computers and digital editing!!!!

The author absolutely HATED my picture....I found out later he had just seen a black and white faxed version first. After he received the color picture by overnight mail, his opinion changed and he loved it. This was my first official illustration sale.


Aunt Krissy said...

I didnt know that he hated it the 1st time?! How could he do that? all the are that you do is wondeful!

PAK Art said...

He saw it in black and white over a fax. How good do you think this pic came through? I'd guess not too good. It needs the color.