Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Evolution of a Kraken Illustration

I've been working on a picture book about a lonely kraken. Besides tweaking the words, I've explored the look and style of the illustrations. Here's how I have reworked a scene with Kraken and some mermaids, including changing the medium, the characters' looks, everything:

1. Mostly digital approach

© Sylvia Liu

APRIL 2014: My first attempt was to create a stylized digital composite based on pencil drawings. I liked the moodiness, but it was a bit too stark.



2. Mostly analog (pastel)


© Sylvia Liu
MAY 2014: I painted the scene in pastels, using bright and saturated colors, changed the kraken and used the mermaids from the first illustration.


© Sylvia Liu
MAY 2014: The digital mermaids didn't match, so I painted them in pastels. This was striking but it didn't fit with the style and direction of my other illustrations.

3. Pencil drawing plus collage of acrylics, watercolor, and digital painting


© Sylvia Liu

NOV. 2014: As a result of a class I took (Mira Reisberg & Kristine Brogno teaching at the Children's Book Academy), I settled on the above look. This is the scene before the singing scene above. The rocks and water were made in analog (acrylic, watercolor and pastel), the sketches are done in pencil, and the characters are digitally painted.

© Sylvia Liu
FIRST PASS: The above was the image I had critiqued in class. Mira and Kristine gave me some great suggestions on composition which resulted in this:

© Sylvia Liu
 4. Reworking the Palette


© Sylvia Liu
JAN. 2015: While I liked the composition and the characters, something about the color palette felt a bit cold. So I reworked the background by adding warmer tones and some different textures. I changed the kraken's look slightly.

5. Final Touches

I'm getting some great suggestions from my friend Kathryn Ault Noble (who was named to the SCBWI Illustration Mentor Program in August 2014) who is reviewing my portfolio in anticipation of the New York SCBWI.  Based on those comments, my final looks like this (very subtle lighting changes):

© Sylvia Liu


Who knows? This illustration may yet evolve some more, but for now, I'm happy with it.

Post Script

2/3/15 A New Kraken

So my husband didn't love my kraken character so I tried it again with a cuter character:

© Sylvia Liu





10 comments:

  1. LOVE seeing the evolution all in one place! I know I saw each piece as it was completed, but WOW -- seeing it all together is amazing! More posts like this please! I know nothing about art, so this astounds me. Brava, Sylvia!

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    1. Thank you so much, Renee. I totally have a couple other illustrations where I could do this post, except I'm not at a point where I'm happy with the end result yet.

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  2. While I'm pretty sure I've seen every stage of this, I am still amazed at all the terrific changes you've made to it! And I loved reading your thought process and the reasons behind each of the changes.

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  3. Wow thanks so much for sharing the different drafts, Sylvia. The last one is amazing. It has so many colors in it. It's great to see the process.

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  4. Sylvia, I love seeing the evolution of style! Kraken, is so amazing! You're so talented!

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  5. This is so cool. I especially love going between the first and the last - what a difference. So glad you shared, Sylvia.

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  6. This is amazing, Sylvia. Thanks for sharing it and telling about the evolution!

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  7. Thanks for sharing your creative process, Sylvia! I've really enjoyed seeing your work in our CBA class! Best of luck at the NY conference!! :)

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