Wednesday, 19 November 2014

A guest blog by the very clever Des Campbell, Illustrator and custard cream fan

"Hi, my name’s Des and I’m the illustrator for the Things with... series of books that the talented (I think  that’s what it says, I can’t read her writing) Rachael Phillips has written. I’ve been asked to share my process for bringing an illustration to life.

Before I go to bed at night I leave out some paper, pens and some colouring pencils and elves appear and produce a completed illustration ready for the morning when I wake up… oh, wait. That’s how I get my shoes repaired. Cobblers, you cry!!! Easy, tiger. It’s just a story!!
Well, I thought it was just cartoonists that like to read about how cartoonists do stuff but if you’re the sort of person who doesn’t get out much and enjoys this sort of thing then prepare to have your socks blown off. What’s that? Quickly, go and put some on.

Having read through the text for the book and enjoyed a few cups of tea and a sizable quantity of custard creams I produce a series of very rough ideas. I then draw these up into something that matches what I can see in my head and get these emailed to Rachael. Two cups of tea and rather a lot of custard creams later, Rachael responds that the sketches are wonderful and I can go ahead on the finished artwork.

The sketches, having been scanned into the computer are then brought into my favourite computer program in the world, (until they invent a custard cream program) Corel Painter. The process for all these illustrations is the same so for this example, bats, the sketch is enlarged to the size of the finish artwork. I then “ink” over the sketch using a Wacom tablet. No brushes or pens were harmed in the making of these illustrations, the inking is done digitally using a couple of “brushes” in the program that mimic actual real media. One big benefit of inking this way is that I can separate foreground and background elements, which is a huge plus if I then colour the lineart in a different colour.

After more tea and custard creams (you can see a pattern forming, can’t you!!) I then add the colours, using different “layers” for the background, bats, and effects. The moon, added towards the end, is just a circle coloured in a colour very similar to a custard cream now that I think about it!!! I then added a soften filter to give it that moony look.
All the shading, shadows and highlights are added next until the illustration has a more painted look.

Once I’m happy with it (I’m never happy, no illustrator ever is) I “flatten” the image and send it off to Rachael who, I’m sure, thinks I’ve trained a monkey to do these illustrations but then thinks, life is too short, it’ll do!!!

After eating so many custard creams I start to feel guilty and watch Silence of the Lambs on DVD to cheer myself up. The above process is repeated for each illustration and people with shares in biscuit manufacturers jet off to Vegas to spend all the extra money I’m providing for them!!!
So there we have it. Anyone still awake, please turn the lights off and put the empties out for the milkman. Time top put the kettle on…  

Des Campbell"

 If you want to see Des' fab work in the completed book you can download 'Things with Wings'  Print version coming very soon.
Des also created the cover artwork for all the Larry the Liger stories! 

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