Friday, 10 August 2012

Clockwork Kingfisher - from sketchbook to finished illustration

If you saw the picture on my facebook page yesterday you might have already guessed that I was working on a Kingfisher as my next clockwork bird.  I thought I would share some photos to show you my working process from sketchbook to finished illustration.  I did try to make a slideshow but it wasn't uploading properly so here are some still photos instead...
All my illustrations start life in my sketchbook.  I use reference photos to get an idea of the birds shape and test out some colours.  I've developed a sort of formula for turning real birds into clockwork form but things like the colour patterns, wing, body and beak shape makes each bird unique. 
Once I have a rough idea of the design I start working on watercolour paper.  I use 140lb, extra smooth hot pressed paper - it's great for detailed pen work and watercolours.
When I am happy with the bird in pencil I can start drawing in pen.  I use a dip pen and brown ink - it's waterproof so won't be smudged when the colour is added and I like the quality of line the dip pen produces.
When the ink is completely dry it's time to start adding some colour...
I use tubes of watercolour - but I like to squeeze them onto my palette and leave them to dry, making my own set of watercolour pans.  Does that sound like an odd way of using watercolours?
The colour is built up slowly with layers of paint...
Normally I leave the painting to dry overnight before scanning it - watercolours become lighter as they dry and obviously I don't want wet paint on the scanner!  I made sure that I didn't paint the blues too pale as scanners sometimes have trouble picking up very light shades of blue.
Here's the scanned version of the Kingfisher... 
Now it's time to work on the illustration digitally in Photoplus.  I add a background using various scanned textures and clean up the scanned bird, removing the white paper from the scan.  I will use the finished illustration for different sized prints, the largest will be 8x10 so that's the size I work with now.  It's better to reduce the size of the orginal later rather than to try and enlarge it which might reduce the quality of the image.
Almost finished now - I add the text 'Edwin Cracknell's Clockwork Birds' which appears on all the clockwork bird illustrations.  I also write the title of this piece (Model No.13 Alcedo atthis ~ Kingfisher) in dip pen and ink, scan it and add to the illustration.
And here is the finished Clockwork Kingfisher! :)

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely bird! I really like the idea. Thanx for sharing your process.