These days, all victories are hard-fought, but all the sweeter for the effort.
This week’s Illustration Friday topic is “Tree”. In contrast to the creative block encountered while trying to select a suitable scene to illustrate last week’s “Shy”, the image sprang immediately to mind. The two characters, their positions relative to each other, the vantage point, the background – that was the easy part.
Then, I had to go and make it complicated. After a quick sketch in Photoshop, I set out to find a compelling color scheme to emulate. I found it on Ian Laser’s phenomenal website: Ian Laser (here). He’s a professional illustrator whose site has been in my favorites for some time now. I borrowed generously from the palette used on the dog-walking picture, so please repay him the favor by clicking around his place.
The main color blocks weren’t too tough, but then I set to task of tightening the drawing. What followed were some ten hours of swinging back and forth between too tight and too loose. The kid in the tree’s torso was an early stumbling block. The slightest shifting of a line transformed him from steroidal to emaciated, then back again.
Eventually a balance was struck.
I can’t guarantee a deal with the devil wasn’t involved. Totally worth it. I had already tried to sell my soul on Craigslist, and the only taker wanted to haggle. (My asking price was $3. Reasonable, I thought.)
Once the main drawing issues were resolved, the colors needed to be re-painted so that would somewhat match the lines. I slapped a few special effects here and there. Just a bit of blending. The goal was subtlety. How did I do?
At some point, Tony walked into the office, on his way to bed. He casually observed that the kid on the ground looked like Bobby Hill, from King of the Hill. So I had to completely redraw his face again, too.
I spent the better part of the next two hours trying to draw a car. Does anybody else remember middle school like I do: all the boys would draw cars in their notebooks while the teacher was talking, and the girls would draw horses. I missed out on that early practice. Although I’m getting better with horses.
Round about 1am, I finally eked out a collection of lines that I could convince myself was automobile. I doubt that Henry Ford would agree with me, but who cares? He’s dead, and dead people can’t drive, anyway.
And on that note …
I’ll finish with a couple of early snapshots, submitted for your approval:
Originally, the nearer boy’s head wasn’t facing his friend. Rude.
Notice how the background color shows through. Not only does it lend a cool, stained-glass effect at this point, but it also asserts a certain moody influence on the whole piece. I made sure to leave some of the little mauve ‘seams’ exposed in the finished version.
And for everyone who actually reads all the way to the end of these things, AND who expect a tenuous musical tie-in, here you go: Sun Kil Moon’s “The Leaning Tree” from Admiral Fell Promises fits wonderfully with this drawing. The acoustic tune starts sweetly, then pivots into darker territory at about the two-minute mark, only to lighten up a bit again with a long coda.