Monday, March 15, 2010

Lyra Belacqua - WIP

Today I started a set of illustrations that I'm incredibly excited about. I'm going to be creating a series of illustrations featuring characters from books that I read (or had read to me) as a kid/teen that were in some way incredibly important to me. These will all be characters that hold a very special place in my heart - characters that are so good that they make me excited to go back and read their books even though I know exactly what's going to happen in the story. I'll go into more detail once I post the finished version of this piece, but I wanted to start with Lyra because of the profound impact that The Golden Compass (and the two sequels) had on both my childhood imagination and my creative process. She is just such a great heroic character and I've wanted to try and depict her for a long time. 

Read more below the jump!

I'll talk more about Lyra as a character later, but for now I want to examine the process that I'm going through to actually create the illustration. For the most part, I've been happy with the watercolor illustrations I've produced so far, but I wasn't really pleased with the quality of line that I got from painting over pencil. I wanted something bolder that would really stand out in contrast to the vibrant paints that I want to use in these pieces. I also really wanted to try working with ink. But for the longest time the process of transferring my sketches to watercolor paper without getting a lot of extraneous pencil marks and indentations all over the page was mysterious to me. I thought maybe I needed to work really lightly with my pencil lines or maybe just erase really well. But I've recently started watching a number of comic artists go through their processes both on Ustream and on Twitter and I finally realized that many artists are using (essentially) carbon paper to transfer the lines lightly onto the final paper for inking(This Flickr set by Vera Brosgol was particularly enlightening)! This makes perfect sense and I totally don't know why I never figured it out before. But armed with this new knowledge I felt ready to jump into this project full force. 
I started by sketching out my Lyra drawing first in my notebook. Once I found a pose that I was happy with, I redrew it larger on newsprint. Once I was pleased with that version, I made my own approximation of carbon paper by taking charcoal and smearing it all over another piece of newsprint. I then taped down my watercolor paper, placed the charcoal paper face down on top, and then placed the newsprint drawing on the very top. I then went through and traced over my original drawing. To my immense surprise the transfer actually worked! You can see the final result in the image below:

I ended up with a very faint, easy to erase, non-indented exact replica of my original drawing! I then went through and inked the piece with a bunch of my old semi-dried out faber castell pens. I definitely need to get some better pens and I really want to start working with a brush, but that is an experiment for another day. 

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