Summer Fun Art

This illustration ran with a story about keeping the kids busy during summer. A lot of activities were covered and a broad topic can be a challenge for an illustration. In the end, I opted to focus on one image emblematic of the the story; it also is very representative of my best childhood summer memories.

During the summer my folks would drive me and my sister to a cousin's house and we would swim in a big pool for hours on end. It was a lazy, dreamy, wonderful time and I still think about floating in that pool, laying on the hot concrete, the smell of chlorine and the grass of the lawn. Ahhh. I'm there right now.

A really wonderful time. Mmm.

Okay, I'm back.

I had several ideas for this assignment before I zeroed in on the final presentation. In this rough, I addressed a few of the suggestions in the story, conjuring an iconography for them. I took a sort of aggressive tone with the main figures-- the father dragging the kid away from the video game, telling him to go outside and play, dammit.

I kind of like it! This could've worked.

This was my first rough. The story pitch mentioned a summer activity including a trampoline. I think, personally, a horrible idea. Has there ever been a more obviously dangerous thing to purchase for your kids? Has anyone ever bounced on a trampoline and come away uninjured? Awful, awful idea. Great opportunity for a fun image, though!

Still needs work, of course, but I like this!

So, this is the development of the final. I stole the kid in the foreground from the trampoline rough. It seems obvious to me that an attempt to get kids out and away from the TV/computer/entertainment console is going to be near impossible in this, the age of the laptop/iPod/Pad. Certainly, one of the little tech-addicts is going to bring his tech-toys with him. I certainly would. I certainly do.

I'm working on that, by the way. I don't bring the ipod with me when I'm out and about. I kept getting it out to check if I could log on to wi-fi wherever I happened to be. I wouldn't DO anything; I just kept checking to see if I could see the internet. I hate being that dumb.

At this stage I've finalized the characters and begun experimenting with an approach to the coloring process. First, I colored with simple, flat color. Then, I took those simple colors and overlaid them on a scan of paper that had been painted with a broad brush.

By using a combination of adjustment layers, I applied the texture to those colors. I then replaced the flat colors with the spiffy new, textured colors. I've done this before but it always takes a while to get it to look pretty good. There are some colors that behave entirely differently with the adjustment layers so I have to go through the process of tweaking each color to get it to look right. That's why I tried to keep the coloring simple in the first place.

What a headache.

At this point, I had gone a little wild. I got carried away because I had extra time to work on this and I was having fun. I decided that I would give each kid his own wave to be floating on.

I was really getting into it. But, as I was sorting through nearly 80 individual layers -- adding more waves and more adjustment layers as I tried to get it to look better -- I glanced back at the original rough.

Geez, I thought, that looked pretty good. Now, it looks like the kids are in rough seas; I'm almost worried about them. There should be a life-guard swimming in there somewhere to put the audience at ease.

So, I ditched the nonsensical turbulent water shtick and went back to the original pool. It was quick work from there.

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Bonus doodle: Here's the first drawing I did while brainstorming. I quickly colored it before bed the other night.

Everything done in Photoshop.