Thursday, December 10, 2009

Munchkins: Evasive Little Buggers!

I finally got a good look at them and one thing is for sure... They don't wear bright multicolors, they don't have funky punky haircuts and they certainly don't have a "Lollipop guild" ;). This is more of an exploratory sketch for the final characters. There should be a third guy in there, but I ran out of space on my page... I'll post him later. I am pretty sure I will have my first sketch of Nick Chopper (pre-Tin Man) ready for posting tomorrow. The work is flowing rather naturally the more I spend time in this world... I am excited to continue!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sketchbook: Refined Poses for Dorothy

These are my refined pose sketches for my first two pieces. The first one intended as an Ex-libris and based on the first compositional sketch I uploaded a little while back. The second is for the first story Illustration, and is based on the sketch in the post directly below. I had drawn another sketch for the Ex-libris pose last week, but I noticed that there was something off about it. I could not pin point it at first and then I realized that I had become far too relaxed with my rough anatomical pose. Granted this is Illustration, not a design for a film; one can get away with some anatomical inaccuracies here and there. Still, I was not comfortable showing that last sketch so I removed it. Ultimately what really drove me to draw it again was that I did not want to settle on a mediocre plan. After all, these are the poses that will be in the final piece, and I wanted to be confident in the plan that I am laying out because once the inks and watercolors are applied I have to go with it whether I like it or not.

It has been rather enjoyable doing these sketches of Dorothy. One gets to know the personality of these characters the more they are drawn. I think once I have finished my first Illustration she will have emerged fully in my mind. She will be much easier to draw over and over again as I work on further Illustrations. Now the challenge for these first two pieces will be painting the Calico pattern on her dress. This is before she switches to her "OZ attire."

The Tin Woodsman has taken a bit of a back seat but I feel it was necessary since I have also been working on sketches for the "Munchkin Council." This made me realize that my design for the Tin Woodsman was a bit premature since the Munchkins revealed themselves to be of a rather specific physiological design. Nick Chopper was originally a Munchkin, so I am working on a design that will follow the pattern I have discovered in my sketchbook. I hope to post the Munchkin sketches within the week. Thanks for looking.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sketchbook: Composition Thumbnail 2

"The house must have fallen on her. Whatever shall we do?"

I am getting pretty excited to start working on some Illustrations. The above sketch is one I am itching to work on, however I still need to finish preparing my paper stretchers. It would be a shame to paint this on a nice sheet of Arches 140 # Hot Press without stretching it to avoid buckling. I am preparing two stretchers so I can work on this and the composition from my previous entry simultaneously. As the caption suggests, this is the scene where Dorothy discovers what is left of the Wicked Witch of the East and her Silver Slippers. This is still a very rough idea... what I would call a "color sketch." You'll notice that the Munchkin Council behind the Good Witch of the North are very roughly sketched in... I will be working out the final poses in my sketchbook before I start working on the final piece. I also want to try and resolve any compositional issues beforehand.

Meanwhile, the Tin Woodsman is coming along nicely, though I am working on his pre-tin portrayal, but it should go rather quickly since I am feeling the fire to get on to some scenes. Thank you for looking.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Here is Scarecrow. I am actually quite pleased with the way he turned out! In the book Baum describes him as being made by a couple of Munchkin farmers out of old faded Munchkin clothes an old sack and blue paint. Their color of preference is blue and they consider the white and blue combo to represent good. They say to Dorothy in reference to her Gingham dress:

"It is kind of you to wear that,"... "Blue is the color of the Munchkins, and white is the witch color. So we know you are a friendly witch."

Baum also describes him as having a pointy blue hat. I didn't give him the traditional pointy hat, one because I imagined that pointy hats come in all different shapes and I am more prone to believe that individual Munchkins would probably have different shaped pointy hats in varying shades of blue (Blue Black/Baby Blue) to distinguish them. Secondly, I wanted the hat to faintly echo the tall crown he wears as ruler of OZ when he is appointed by the Wizard.

One thing that Baum left a bit vague was how Scarecrow was put together. I decided to make him more rugged and durable. His legs are wrapped up with rope to keep the hay in his boots and thighs and also to make him seem taller (though he is perhaps only an inch or two taller than Dorothy). However, as durable as he looks, his arms, torso and head are still rather vulnerable.

Nick Chopper is next. I am particularly excited about working on him because I want to imagine him in two ways; both before and after he became the Tin Woodsman. Besides these character Illustrations, I am also beginning work on my first larger format piece based on the composition in my sketchbook post. Again, thank you for looking.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Peter Pan In Kensington Gardens at is a great resource for finding complete scanned editions of rare or out of print classics. This find brought back memories from my childhood, hunkering down in the basement of the Grass Valley Library pouring over Rackhams Illustrations... Click in the image above and enjoy! On a side note, I should have the Scarecrow character plate all finished up and posted before the Thanksgiving Holiday.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sketchbook: Composition Thumbnail

I wanted to refrain from posting sketchbook drawings but this is more along the lines of composition planning rather than character and object design.  This composition thumbnail sketch depicts Dorothy on the farm sometime before the cyclone.  Toto is investigating a yellow butterfly fluttering by as Dorothy, distracted by Toto, puts down her little picture book to watch what he is doing.  In the background you can make out the farm house and the barn.  The landscape is barren and grey, the earth is baked into a dull shade.  The sunburnt grass sways with the wind as it clings to the banks of an irrigation ditch just out of frame. The Illustration does not depict a specific scene in the book, rather it is a little vignette that could be used at the beginning of the book as the Ex-Libris. This will be my next big project. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dorothy Gale

For the past few Months I have been developing my vision for "The Wonderful Wizard Of OZ." I went back to the source material and took some notes on the descriptions Baum had made for some of the characters. Baum was very meticulous with some characters and others not so much, but from what I could garner, the book takes place in 1885 so Dorothy would surely not be wearing a short Gingham with short frilly stockings like in the Classic Judy Garland Musical. The dress would be in more of a "prairie" style with a high neck line and sleeves that went below the elbow. She would most likely be wearing long black wool stockings that would match her black high top boots. Here Dorothy is dressed in her "OZ attire." After having spoken to the Good Witch of the North (not Glinda). She discards her old worn out shoes in favor of the Silver Slippers (not Ruby... that's MGM's intellectual property:). I always pictured Dorothy as a somewhat disheveled rough and tumble prairie girl: very resourceful and playful with a happy and kind heart. Judging by her last name Gale, her family would have originated from England. She would have somewhat ruddy freckled skin with bright blue eyes and auburn hair. Toto of course is a Cairn Terrier... a little spark plug.

I am now in the process of painting the Scarecrow. I will be painting a character plate for each character as I go along. I will also be working on Illustrative compositions in a larger format. All will be posted here, though I will refrain from posting pages from the sketchbook for the time being. Thanks for looking!

Illustration Refuge

This is my new home for the Illustration work I do in my spare time. I do a lot of different kinds of work (abstract and figurative), but Illustration was truly my first love. Whether or not I make a career of it is besides the point. Ever since I picked up my first copy of Treasure Island Illustrated by N.C. Wyeth and Rip Van Winkle Illustrated by Arthur Rackham, I have been driven to Illustrate stories. It makes me happy, it transports me to different worlds but it also grounds me in the reality of our world and the struggles therein. I hope you enjoy, thank you for looking.