Archive for the ‘Watercolor’ Category

Jack-O Christmas Special

December 10, 2016


Process: Book Cover Design

December 4, 2016

In taking on this book cover project, I began by sketching a bunch of thumbnails. I was familiar with the contents of the book and when I had the opportunity I took a look through the contents. Usually, this read-through would probably be the first step.

After discussing the thumbnails with the author, we decided to go with the text of the title and subtitle along with graphic line drawings of various objects.

With a quick stop at the internet I procured examples of the objects I wanted to draw and headed off to Adobe Illustrator. After I drew the objects, I resized them so that they were the correct proportions relative to the other objects.

Next I scoured through my typeface collection and found two that had a hand-drawn, indie feel. Wanting the illustration lines to resemble the type lines, I created a custom brush and applied it to the objects using the Appearances palette.

I also knew that I wanted to have the colors of the objects offset so I drew rough approximations of the object contours shapes on a different layer using the pencil tool.

I imported the line work, text and color contours into Photoshop and began the layout, coloring and texturing process. More internet research let me see color options as well as locating paper and watercolored textures. I’ve always liked the combination of tight line work with loose watercolors and thought that aesthetic would work well for this project.

Initially, the orange concept got the most positive feedback in my focus group, but the author thought the calmer blue color scheme communicated the intent of the book. I added in additional texture elements and a light frame to add a bit more energy and to focus the viewer’s eye by connecting the various elements.

Typically, I create a new composited Photoshop file that has all of its layers cleaned up. In this case I extended the canvas on the new file to accommodate the single font/spine/back file required by the publisher.


Zoo Painting: Part 2

May 20, 2015

After laying down a yellow base for the background, I did a simple tonal under painting on the animals. For this painting, I selected a triadic color harmony using secondary colors. I painted like washes of purple, green and orange on top of the animals. In some instances, I mixed neutrals from the secondary colors in their complements. Finally I use colored pencils to add detail and to give some dimensionality to the lettering.


Abstract Watercolor

March 28, 2014


This was a fun collaborative project I did with A.J. I enjoyed playing around with transparency and shadow effects NOT using Photoshop or Illustrator.


June Concert Flyer

June 12, 2013

Here is the latest collaboration with Vivian Cheung. The trick with these banner flyers is to:

  1. work within the limits of the format
  2. supply the relevant info in an appealing and clear way
  3. visually match the artwork


Poster collaboration

April 26, 2013

Previously, I have created posters for the various house concerts that Homespun Royale has played. I enjoy the process immensely. The last several shows however, I have collaborated with the intensely talented Vivian Cheung whose watercolor illustrations are breath-takingly whimsical and heart-breakingly beautiful. Our other collaborations are posted on Vivian’s blog.

It is a different kind of challenge to consider how to best utilize the artwork Vivian provides, placing text  and other elements in a way that clearly communicates without diminishing from the illustrations. I hope I have been successful in this endeavor.

The photo gallery below shows the “before” illustration and the “after” poster. The type has to be harmonious without becoming invisible or unclear. Whenever I can, I try to preserve space within the illustration to prevent things from getting too crowded and claustrophobic for the viewer. When necessary I will add visual elements, intensify coloration, change the angle of the image, “add” space between painted elements, or move elements to preserve my interpretation of the artists “intent” while meeting the communication needs of the poster.

Tutorial/Idea–Sketch Collage with J.S.

January 26, 2013

My friend Juan and I did a mini sketch-crawl yesterday. We started in a neighborhood and walked to a park, creating a sketch collage with pen and ink as we went.

Sketch collages are a great way to:

  1. fill a page,
  2. force yourself to work quickly to capture relevant detail,
  3. prevent yourself from getting too precious with your sketching,
  4. deal with composition and shape,
  5. try out new techniques and tools

Create contrast in your sketch collage by:

  1. alternating natural and man-made objects
  2. vary size and direction (e.g. round things, long things, etc.)
  3. employ close ups and long shots
  4. rotating the page

When you’re finished you have a piece that you can then refine or correct manually or digitally. Below is the original scan (watercolors were added after the ‘crawl) as well as a digital version adding layers and elements in Photoshop. Not necessarily one to hang in a museum, but a great way to sharpen your skills and have some fun.



Castle Sketch

January 18, 2013

I sketched this from a photo I found on my friend Laura’s Facebook page. I was “drawn” to the shapes and textures. I find that I am often impatient with detail work so I focused on capturing the overall impression rather than burn out on the minutia of the castle details.

Laura's Castle

Portrait of J.A.

January 18, 2013

Our friends moved back to Colorado. Before they left I took some time to finish off a sketch book with this portrait. Not a perfect likeness, but nice hair. . .

Joy Anderson

Whistler’s Sasquatch

January 18, 2013

Abigail and I did this together as a spin-off piece for the January 2013 House Concert. Based on the artwork provided by my talented friend Sarah B, Abigail sketched out a composition which I lightboxed in pencil. Finally we inked (Micron brush pen) it and added watercolor and colored pencil flourishes. I think I may have brushed on some tea or coffee as well…

Scan 7