In 2017, by the purpose of seeking the visual language (or you can say: the style) of SimpHoo-the carpenter monkey at New York Public Library comic, I made this illustration. Through this drawing, I found the way to merge my fictional characters and realistic scene. I'd like to share the process with you in this blog.
Before I drew the sketches, I had an vision about the monkey was running on the library's marble staircases with CoolNoodle-the cat ears girl, and there were long, twisted shadows chasing after them. But after I did the researches on site, I decided to change the background in stead of the inner part: The Rose Main Reading Room. The reason was quite obvious: The Rose Main Reading Room was the 1st result when I search "New York Public Library" .
So I designed such a composition: On the center of the image, my two main characters standing right in front of the camera and looking toward their front. It appeared something/someone dangerous is coming to them. (I promised I won't spoil and I will not tell you what are they now!) The background will show not only the ceiling and the big chandeliers, as well as the library's iconic reading tables and lamps. Through manipulating the vanishing point, the ceiling and floor's brick compose two triangles, and they gathered at the center of the image, which created not only the depth, but also the radial shape which is going to grab your attention to my characters. It's super old fashion, but super worked out.
Then I drew these two sketches below by the size of a bank card. Then colored them, and tried to figure out the way to color it for the final version. I used Canson Mixed Media paper (98lb/160g) for this kind of drawing. They are heavy enough to hold the watercolors and inks, and they are not too rough as watercolor papers, so I could easily draw or modify my drawing with eraser, then put them into my scanner.
构图完成后，我在160g的Canson Mixed Media 纸上（水性颜料会使100g以下的纸皱到无法扫描）画了两张银行卡大小的缩略图，并对其进行了上色的比较。
It seems the left piece had a better clarity because I limited the colors to 1 set of complementary-which is orange and blue. It worked with the gorgeous Rose Main Reading Room. But how about the other scene in the stories? I didn't have an answer at that moment...
For the next few days I would keep thinking about compositions, layouts, anatomy of the characters, facial expressions, colors, etc... It was half anxious and half exciting. But if I didn't find my time to draw it on final, the inspirations and excitements would just pass, and I will loose the motivation to draw it.
After experienced many times to dealing with my unfinished projects, I decided to NOT transferring any of my daily "UNexpected" ideas to any drawing. In stead, I wrote them down by texts. It's a good way for me to keep the seeds, but not the wild grass. Of course, that demands some self discipline, and I think anyone would have it if you have several unfinished and "never will do" sketchbooks.
For penciling and inking, I use the blue pencil for drafting and a light box to ink. I didn't like inking directly on the penciling lines because it took me so many time to erase them. And It really pissed me off when I saw the missing inked area after I erased the pencil lines.
But recent days, my dear LED light box made my eyes tearful and red because I starred at it for pretty long time. OMG, there is just no such thing like a perfect way!
Below is the comparison with traditional coloring and digital coloring. Left piece is colored by watercolor. I actually did this one first. What happened next is I wasn't satisfied about it, so I used the ink wash piece to color it with Photoshop, and it came the right one. Just for you to know: Always scan your inking pages or ink washed pages before you color it!
Although both of them have their own good parts, the left one had a vintage and more organic feeling. It was more like a "30years from now, the library is lack of repairing version". But I decided to show the right one to my publisher. The result proved I was right. With this drawing as the cover illustration of my book plan, I got the publisher's attention before I actually started drawing the comic. The most important thing is, through this illustration, I found the confidence to capture the "sense" of the story. And after one more year's preparation, I finally started to work on it.
I'm not sure if this is going to be the final cover illustration of the comic book, because I haven't go through the book design yet. But I hope I would be on some higher level and having some other perspectives, so I can make a new one.
And above is the making of this illustration.
Thank you for your reading!
LagaZhang All Rights Reserved