That Edgy Feeling

This week’s Illustration Friday assignment was “edge”.

It’s a good thing I buckled down and got an early start; this one did not come quickly.  It began on Saturday.  Additional sessions on Sunday and today were necessary to bring this one to a satisfactory state:

Over the Edge

I considered a few other approaches before landing on this one, including a way-too-clever one of a person drawing a boat on a map right up to the edge of the paper.

Over the Edge - map sketch

Yuck.  The image of a couple of kids looking over an edge went through a couple of iterations before the final composition was reached.  Here’s a previous sketch where the vantage point is below the main subjects:

Over the Edge - cliff sketch

The benefits to this direction is that some facial expression is possible.  I found myself asking the question “what are they looking at?”  So they ended up on top of a building, where they probably aren’t supposed to be.

Another early concept included a billboard instead of the full scene below:

Over the Edge - Billboard



The billboard is just blocked in, since it was abandoned early.  It would have been a lot easier to finish this version.  The other benefit of the billboard is that it doesn’t distract from the edge that was the point of this illustration in the first place.  The final version has almost too much going on.  Oh well.

The composition ( the way the various elements are arranged or come together on the page) works… but it’s a bit… quirky.  The points of interest are dispersed oddly throughout the picture, and the coloring, while not entirely random, is a strange combination of full-color and grayscale.  I had fun drawing the various characters and structures from this extreme angle.

I tackled a few other new challenges on this piece.  First, I tried out a new color scheme.  It was inspired by a picture by another illustrator, Daniel Ursache, who frequently posts on Illustration Friday.  My urban scene doesn’t come close to replicating the fantastic sense of this guy’s work, or even the same color relationships, but it was a great point of departure.

The squiggly lines were another approach stolen from different artist.  This time it was Dutch illustrator, Rob Doeslaar, whose blog I could gaze at for hours on end.  Here’s a view of “Over the Edge” with some of the colors and details removed, where the squiggles really get to shine.

Over the Edge - Squiggles

It has a cool sort-of-abstract feel to it this way.   A similar approach was used in my “Snow Boots” picture, here.   This is just one more way of getting texture and pattern into my pieces, which is especially helpful if you want digital works not to look like cartoons.

Please let me know your thoughts on this illustration.


This entry was published on January 7, 2013 at 9:45 pm. It’s filed under Digital Drawing, Illustration Friday, Signs, Style and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

12 thoughts on “That Edgy Feeling

  1. I like it sans billboard, as it opens up the scene. The splashes of vibrant color feels a bit random, but I think that’s my favorite part of this illustration!

    I also really like the bird, “looking on” with them, as animals often do, without any of the emotion of the kids.

    This illustration really looks great in the cropped, banner form at the top of the post. Zooming into the subjects gives it an entirely different feel; one of fear and suspicion rather than innocent curiosity.

    • Great observations. I love to hear people’s perspecitves and interpretations of things. THe bird was sketched in without a lot of forethought. It’s cool to think of him joining in the fun.

      I’ve also noticed that some of the drawings work really well with the extreme cropping. Perhaps some of them should become ‘official’ alternate versions?

  2. yes there is a definite we shouldn’t be up here feeling with the crouched barely peeping over the edge composition Gabriel ! And seeing more without the billboard is good 🙂

  3. I like this piece, too, and agree with all the other posters that it’s better without the billboard. I like the pop of red undies and the little bird.

    • The undies weren’t deliberately planned. The original sketch was sloppy and had just left kind of a gap between the shirt/torso and the pants/hips. It reminded me that shirts tend to ride up when you’re hunched over like that. So i went with it.

  4. Anonymous on said:

    Really fun to look at-texture, color and detail. I love the bird. The whole thing makes me smile. Thanks.

  5. I like the version you went with as well, Gabriel. The billboard was blocking the view for one, and I like a good nosy!
    I also like the extras you’ve added – the bird, the cyclist, the road sign; and your choice of colours – they all add to the ‘edgy’ feel which was missing, in my opinion, with the billboard. Plus the view reminds me of a sight I see very often when I fly in my dreams!
    I’ve not participated in Illustration Friday for a few weeks… I’ll have to get back into it again!

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Tom. Hopefully, the text to this post doesn’t make it sound like I’m displeased with the piece. It’s just an acknowlegement that, generally speaking, this one deviates from some of the norms of good composition. And still somehow manages to work.

  6. I’m glad you went with this version instead of the billboard. While my attention is initially on the kids, my next question is “why are they up there?” With the billboard I would be left wondering, but this way I get the vicarious thrill of being naughty, of seeing the world through a child’s eyes again.

    I also like that there is a lot going on, because in a child’s world there is a lot going on; there’s so much to see it’s all too much to take in at once. I didn’t even notice the bird in the lower right corner at first because I was trying too hard to figure out what they were so interested in! A very good piece.

    • Thanks, Bob. I’m still not sure exactly what those two are up to… nothing particularly interesting going on below as far as I can see, but my hunch is just the thrill of being somewhere “off-limits” and seeing the world from a different vantage point makes this situation seem ‘risky’ and fun.

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