Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pinocchio With A Twist by Russ Cox

 © 2011 Russ Cox | Smiling Otis Studio

Recently I have been thinking about the story of Pinocchio and how to do a spin on such a classic.  I thought it would be interesting if kids had built him from junk that they found around the house or in a junkyard. A child has an amazing creative spirit and energy that I thought would work well for this modern take. It also reminded me of my younger days when we would build things from junk.

While I was sick last week, I began doodling and this is what appeared on the paper. Maybe a fever can be a good thing once in a while. Trying to think of things a group of children could find and use to make their robotic puppet, was a bit challenging. Most of the items are obvious but some of the support elements like the base of his face and lower body, I wanted to keep as chunks of unidentifiable rusted metal.

The faces of the children bothered me so I quickly sketched out some other ideas. Which I added to the cleaned up version of the sketch in Photoshop.

I decided to not add any tones to the sketch and keep the line work loose. The ellipses on the tires and other areas are not drawn perfectly on purpose in order to keep the illustration more child friendly. After years of drafting, it was hard  not to clean up those parts of the drawing.

Using Photoshop, I added a gray tone to establish light direction and then dropped in a purple value to pull the under painting together. 

I built each piece on a separate layer for easy editing. The color was built up using various brushes and textures like the background on the face. I was going for a tarnished, rusted metal look so the elements on the face stand out.
This is the final illustration. It is different than my usual vector artwork. After looking at it now, I think I will add a small cricket to the radar part of his head. Like he is whispering into his ear as the little girl looks down on him. It will tie in the basic storyline of the original and help pull the concept together.

In Pixel Shavings related news, we just mailed out our first tear sheet with bookmarks to art directors from various publishing houses. Hazel, Fred, Sheri, Debbie, John and I each did a new piece just for the promo. We think it is a pretty snazzy package that should get some attention. Fingers crossed!

Next week you're in for a treat as the lovely and energetic Debbie Ohi will share a new illustration for all to marvel!

To see more of my work, you can go to:
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Smiling Otis Studio Blog


  1. Awesome illustration and awesome post Russ :-) Will be interested to see the dummy ..... Hazel

  2. Love it, Russ! Crazy amount of detail. Great work

  3. Most excellent post Russ!! Great great illustration!

  4. Thank you so much for the kind words Sheri!

  5. What a great idea for a story, Russ! So many possibilities for the 'junk', and also the different pieces that the different kids (and their personalities) would bring to the Pinocchio. Thank you for the detailed step-by-step - your draftsmanship is so inspiring. There's definitely a lot of movement going on here, so much to look at, super kid-friendly!

  6. Thanks John! Fred is really pushing me to write a story for it.

  7. Definitely needs a story!! There's a ton of possibilities in your illustration. What do the kids need Pinocchio to do for them? What inspires the kids to build it? 'Pssst!' by Adam Rex might be good inspiration for a story.