Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Developing A Concept by Russ Cox

© 2012 Russ Cox | Smiling Otis Studio

Happy New Year Everyone! For my first post of 2012, I thought I would share how I developed the concept for the above illustration. 

I started out with doodling in my sketchbook. The idea of a child swinging on an old branch was too symbolize "old and new" as well friendship.

After working up the sketch into a tighter drawing, the symbolism was not working and the tree branch became too scary. Especially when the end of the branch was turned into a gnarled hand. It seemed to be ready to grab the girl instead of forming an arch to show protection.

Since the sketch was not working, I decided to go back to doodling, trying to rework the concept or come up with something complete different. Sometimes it is best to step back and come from another angle. The idea was to make the illustration warmer in concept, so I thought what if she had a large oafish friend who would do anything for her. Maybe something happened to the tree where she had the swing and her friend was welling to pretend to be one to make sure she was happy. 
After roughing in the new layout, I noticed that I did not like the position of the rope over the girl's face. Plus the hand turned down had a negative feeling so I thought he needed his hand turned upward. Since he is pretending to be a tree, it was natural to put a bird's nest in his open hand.

I sketched out the new hand and girl which I dropped over top of the existing sketch. It saved me time redrawing the sketch for a third time since I would be doing a tighter version as my base for the final color illustration. I feathered the edges in Photoshop when I cut out the images so they overlapped the original sketch seamlessly.
The flowers were removed because they were a distraction from the interaction between the two characters. This is the final sketch which became the base of the final illustration which I rendered in Photoshop.
 In the final illustration, I wanted to mute the color palette so the warmth of their friendship shined through.
Having worked in Photoshop for the past 8 months, I think I am ready to tackle Painter so I may post the results next time.

Thanks for reading and following our glog.

Look for Debbie Ohi's always inspiring and insightful post next week
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  1. Such a great work. Thanks for sharing your work progress. It's very inspiring to go along with your way of thinking. Love the idea of a bird's nest in open hand, it does make the image look more friendly and warm. :)

  2. This is totally awesome. Love this giant, lots of caring going on with him ... The bird watcher ...

  3. Thanks Pavinee! I am glad this piece was inspiring and that the caring message came through.

  4. Thanks Hazel! I like the name The Bird Watcher.

  5. This turned out great, Russ! What an original idea! Well done!

  6. Thank you so much Nina for the kind words.

  7. Incredible illustration and incredible post Russ! This is a great example of how a piece can evolve if you believe in it enough! Really great!

  8. Thanks Sheri! I am glad you enjoyed it.

  9. Interesting to see how the piece evolved.

  10. Thanks for sharing your process. Especially like the bird nest in the hand.
    Nice work.