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The king’s coach

There’s a little throwaway scene in  Joe Bright and the Seven Genre Dudes where Joe is invited to a royal story-telling competition.  For this image I needed to design the royal messenger and the king’s coach.

The story isn’t set in any particular time or place—it just calls for a fairytale look.  That allows me a pretty wide latitude regarding costume and setting.  The messenger I dressed in something 16th century—slashed sleeves and short cape—with a sash to make him look official.  The coach is something I found in Peter Newark’s Crimson Book of Highwaymen—a book about desperadoes who robbed the wealthy travelers of merrie olde England.

Here’s the thumbnail—we’re looking at the left page.

The tight sketch—

Throughout this project I used color to give clues about each character.  Everything having to do with the king got colored purple.

Stella the storyteller

Here’s Stella, from Joe Bright and the Seven Genre Dudes.

Thumbnail sketch for pp 6/7. Stella the storyteller sees her rival, Joe Bright, in the back of her magic story-telling chair.

Tight sketch for page 6.

A close-up of my color map for the book.  These are small color sketches of every spread, all next to each other.  It’s easier to plan the palette, or color choices, for the entire project when I can see it all at once.  The scenes with Joe Bright feature warm yellows; the ones with Stella are cold blues and purples.  Stella tries to foil Joe with 3 different devices—these are acid green, so the reader can identify them easily.

For example:

Here’s the painting for page 6 in progress:

Renaissance & Baroque musical instruments

I had it in mind to create some note cards with these images.  Never got around to it.

Color for Santa Claus

A great old truck

My friend Tim is a landscaper in Mars, Pa, and owns this wonderful 1950s Ford truck.  It still runs but needs a bit of, ah, cosmetic repair in one or two spots.  Yes, that’s a fender in the bed.  I confess: I covet it and would love to have one of my own someday. 

Tim’s truck found its way into Peter Spit A Seed At Sue.  Here it is with a guy selling watermelons out of the back.  The street is Stanton Avenue in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty neighborhood where I used to live.

Chaos in Market Square

From Peter Spit A Seed At Sue, a painting in progress:

I’ve set the scene in Pittsburgh’s Market Square.  If you look closely you’ll see the location photos I shot.  I used them to help me design a setting that would be recognizable from a variety of different vantage points.  The pie-wielding mayor is a caricature of Mrs Dittman, the principal of Allen Road Elementary School while I attended.

Steampunk character design

Rhonda Libbey is a talented friend of mine—she’s pulled my carcass out of more than one scrape by helping me paint illustrations.  Please swing by her blog to see her lovely character sketches for the Doctor Ferretstein Project.

Trouble in the Poconos

I was sure sorry to read about this—it looks like Frank Frazetta’s kid tried to burgle the gallery.

Dead man’s chest o’ books

Update: Welcome, Bittersweet Harvest readers!

Now that it’s December, I’m wistfully recalling the first hot weekend of last Spring, the one I used as an excuse to paint outdoors.  I created some surface decoration on this wooden bookcase, to be auctioned off at a charity event for Beginning With Books.

I chose for my theme: pirates—natch.

I enlarged the sketch by drawing a 1″ grid over it, and drawing a 1′ grid on the bookshelf. The sketch was drawn so that one inch equals one foot.

The winning bid was from my pal Charlene Langer, an instructor at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.