I’m pleased to say that I’ve finished my little side project and the break has worked wonders. My inspiration has returned and I can’t wait to apply all the new things that I’ve learnt about blender to my new illustrations.
I now understand a lot more about Blender Cycles which I will be using in the future. I’ve also learnt some very handy techniques in texturing which I hope will improve my work greatly. It certainly pays off to take a few weeks out to recharge the old ‘inspirational’ batteries.
Here’s my (almost) finished illustration.
And here’s a little video, showing the modelling stages of the 3d model.
I’ve now started work on my 4th picture book. I’m looking forward to writing and illustrating a children’s book again after a two-year break from the genre.
The book is about a little boy called Pete and his encounter with a witch called Willisa.
Below are two characters from my book with their corresponding rigs. A rig is like a digital skeleton bound to the character. Like a skeleton, the rig is made up of joints and bones that are used to act as a handle for bending the character into different positions. As I have no intention of animating my characters – my knowledge of building complex rigs is limited – the rigs I use tend to be very simple. But, as I hope you’ll appreciate, that simplicity will do the job just fine!
There’s an element of uncertainty when I start on a picture book: I really have no idea of what the style of the illustrations are going to be like. The opportunity to illustrate it into any style I like is incredibly exciting.
Only when I’ve finished writing my story will I start illustrating the book. I will try different styles and ideas, and this is the part that I love the most, especially character design. You see your ideas develop and evolve and if you’re lucky you end up with something cool and exciting (of course there are plenty of times when your ideas don’t work out and then you have to go back to square one, but I won’t mention those as I want to concentrate on the positives here!).
Illustrating a book is a very organic process. Below you will see my first attempt at illustrating the main character of my latest book Amelia Dyer. Next to it is the final version of the character. As you can see, they couldn’t look any more different from each other.
The original idea was to produce a book similar to the style of my previous title, “My Monster”. But the fact that I started using new software for creating my illustrations, changed my plans. Blender’s features – especially the 3D modelling functions – took my illustrations to new levels of complexity and creativity. Everything I learned affected the style of my illustrations and in the end, I came up with something that I had never produced before and I’m hoping the book looks better for it.
Quote from my book, not a confession! So leaving controversial headings aside, I am writing to share my good news!
Even though I still have a significant amount of work left to do on my Amelia book, I can, for the first time in over a year, feel the completion of my project. After months of hard work I can feel it’s slowly coming to an end. I have created the characters, the scenes and I have framed the illustrations in the way I want to demonstrate the action. It’s one thing having an idea in your head and another putting it on paper. And a nightmare when you just don’t have a clue on how to illustrate the text, so having made it this far feels like success.
I am now starting the process of finalising my illustrations which entails some texturing and lighting. The picture below is a good example of this. Looking for the perfect textures is something that I enjoy immensely. This weekend I will be traveling around my lovely city (London) armed with my camera, taking pictures of walls, bricks, old wood and any other texture that will blend nicely with the Victorian setting in my book. Hope you all have a lovely weekend! And remember, if you live in the UK, clocks go back one hour on Sunday.
If you have a look at the porch you will see that some textures are missing, the curb needs texturing too and the portico has penetrated the window ledge. The street is too clean so I will somehow have to fix that too.
I’m working on Gif animated portraits of the main characters in my Amelia story, to put on my Amelia website. This is Sarah Hobley née Weymouth, Amelia’s mother.
I didn’t realise just how gory my Amelia Dyer story was until I started illustrating the book. The idea was to write a horror / comedy poem that would make the reader smile and be horrified at the same time. I was thinking something along the lines of Edward Gorey’s book “The Gashlycrumb Tinies” and my intentions were clearly laid out in my blog post from last year (read it here). Even the doodles that I had drawn were very much in the style I had imagined for the book. But when I started modelling the different scenes in 3d I realised just how bloody and cruel the poem is.
Self-censorship is not a practice I undertake but the Amelia Project is so different from what I normally do with children’s picture books, and aimed at a totally different age group that I don’t find it appropriate to post the gory and bloody illustration on this site. For those who can handle and enjoy the horror genre, please visit my Amelia Dyer website here. For others who still want to keep up-to-date with the progress of my book; I will keep you all informed on this blog, but will leave out the gory bits.
The picture below depicts three mice eating away at the gore. If you want to see the bigger picture (i.e. what they’re eating), then you’ll have to visit the Amelia Dyer website… but you have been warned!
The main challenge in illustrating Amelia is that she goes from baby to a grown-up woman in about 850 words, less than two A4 pages. In a quick series of illustrations she transforms from baby to toddler to teenager and finally to a grown-up. I want the reader to be able to immediately identify her in the illustrations and I thought that one way of doing this is by giving her an easily recognisable trait; like Pippi Longstocking-inspired plaits. Now I still need to design Amelia as a grown-up, and those plaits might look ridiculous on an adult. If they do I’ll just give her another trait, like big crooked teeth.