Greetings from the National Cherry Blossom Festival in our nation’s capitol. Milo and Millie took a quick detour back to the States to celebrate under the pink and white blooms before jetting off to Tokyo.
As you can see, things look a little different. I have been spending some time researching a bit on illustration this past week and reflecting on where I want to go with The Adventures with Milo and Millie. I decided that things were getting to be a little one-dimensional. Pick a place. Draw similar characters in new place. Paint. Repeat. Though I am fond of the simple outlined characters, I think they could be so much more.
I began the ‘adventures’ as a way to get me working toward character building and illustrations for nursery art and even possibly venturing into the world of children’s book illustration. Instead of growing, I began to settle in. It’s a feeling I’m very conscious of in my personal life. As I feel it creeping in, I tend to jump up and shake things up a bit. So when I began see it show up in my “postcard” illustration, I realized it was time to try something new and grow a little bit.
I decided to try my hand at ink painting with watercolor detailing for illustration. I’ve outlined a few of the steps below, more to wrap my head around the process, but also to bring you all in on the journey as well.
First, sketch. Get a good feel for your characters’ personalities. Use sharp edges for a more severe look and rounded edges for a softer sweeter image. I went with a little of both. I have also added in some movement through the petals, positioning and faces. Though I touched on movement and flow a little in my past illustrations, I have never really showed emotion through it. I’d like to connect with an audience and let them feel what my characters are feeling. In this case, whimsy and joy.
Next, I added the ink lines. This was my first time outlining my entire drawing in black ink with a brush instead of pen. There are mistakes. You kind of have to let the brush do the work for you, and I’m so used to being exact with pen lines. I got a few more thick lines than I wanted at first, but sometimes the mistakes became unintentionally fitting. After watering down some of the ink into different values, I applied light to dark throughout. At this point, things look very black and white.
I went back over the entire illustration with just two watercolor hues. I let them kind of run together and mix and flow until I got a palette of warm colors I liked. I applied them and then went back and detailed with black ink again to add some more accents. (Note: let things dry between ink and watercolor).
Lastly, I used some white gouache paint to lay on some accents and make a few details pop out.
All in all, I’m really happy I tried something new. I think the process added more depth and detail, and I feel like it expresses a bit of movement and joy. What do you think? I would love to hear your notes or if you have tried this technique before. Thanks!