Monday, October 21, 2013

Picture Book Workshop # 36: Illustration Styles

Hi all!

I'm going to be busy today - actually I've been busy all weekend.  My agent is submitting a writing piece from one of his other clients and he wants some art samples from me to go with it.  There's no guarantee, of course, that the editor that picks up the manuscript will like my art for it, but we're trying to get me some illo gigs, so this is like an art audition.

On Saturday, I spend the day trying out different styles for the characters.  Here's the Cat.

The first one is watercolor with line drawing over it.  The second is collage with thick black outlines.  The third is a more anthropomorphic style with watercolor and pencil shading.  Three yellow cats, very different looks.

Once upon a time, an illustrator would want to pinpoint their style.  For example, everyone knows what Eric Carle's art looks like.  That's why my first four book are collage.  I was collage girl!  But recently, that rule seems to be bending.  Now, editors and art directors don't seem to care as much if you do one medium, as long as whatever you do, you do it very, very well.

Whenever I think of an artist who can do different styles, I think of Chris Raschka.

Here are a couple scenes from his Caldecott winning book THE HELLO, GOOD-BYE WINDOW.


They're pretty loose, right.  The colors almost look like they've been finger-painted on and then there's a small bit of line to define things.  There's also a lot going on in the background.

Now look at an illustration from his book, YO!  YES?

The art in the figures is much more clearly defined and the background is merely suggested.

Here's the book NO, DAVID!  by David Shannon.  He styled his figured to look more like how a child would draw them to get kids in the mindset of this naughty little character.


It's elegant.  Compare the children's faces.  One has dots for eyes and the other stares off with despair and longing.  Look at the shading.  One has a gloppy, rough texture and the other has clearly defined shapes with soft shadows.

I'm not saying one's better than the other, but the different styles suit the different stories better and they are both by the same illustrator.

Once upon a time, you tried to master one style, but it seems like nowadays, it's better if you can be the master of many.  So I'm spending my day trying to master another style and - finger crossed - maybe it will get me a gig.

Thanks so much or stopping in!  Have a lovely Monday!


Mirka Breen said...

I hope you get that illo-gig, because your yellow cats got me. I'd hire you.

As to not being boxed with a style, I feel this way about writing and not getting branbded... But, despite notable exceptions, I don't get the feeling the market place quite gets it.

theartofpuro said...

Wish you luck with the illo gig:)Love your cats:) Very interesting post.

Johnell DeWitt said...

Love all the versions. I'm particularly fond of the cat in the middle.

Cynthia Kremsner said...

I like this! I've been fidgeting with simpler styles . . . now I need to finish one all the way. Thank you for sharing!

Julie_c said...

Hi guys - thanks for your comments!

Mirka - I feel I have been branded a bit as a humorous writer. No one ever seems to want anything more sweet from me. But I also attribute that to the fact that my funny stuff is probably just better.

Thanks theartofpuro!

Johnell, I also like the middle cat for a simple text.

Good Luck Cynthia! I'm working hard on getting the whole style together today. It's always a trial and error process when breaking new ground for me, so it's a bit frustrating and time consuming!