Behind the scenes with Jet the Frog

Secrets revealed: Jet the Frog was the beginning of a whole new style of artwork for me. It change the process of how I draw. I was asked to draw a frog with a big imagination. Somewhere in my creative imagination I made something that was a cross between a toad and a frog. The author of the series and I never really discussed what the frog should look like. I did some sketches and she told me what one she liked. Years in the the series it came up in a discussion that the book is in fact is based on a Washington tree frog. The Washington tree frog is a small smooth frog. As you now Jet has warts and lots of texture. 

A lot of my textures I works with start with a photograph and then I work on manipulating the original photo to come up with something truly unique. However there are a few textures that I do all from scratch and Jet’s skin is one of them. This texture is a combination of layers, filters, and then finally the “liquify” tool in Adobe Photoshop. The liquify tool is my go to tool for every piece I do. It’s perfect for putting creases in clothing and giving two dimensional images a 3D look.

As I have worked on this series I have really focused just as much on my artistic development as well as the project its self. As I learned more and more of what was possible I pushed myself to come up with something even better. In the past if I wanted to have a character wearing a plaid shirt I would have to draw all the lines around the creases and bulges and try to get something that had the right perspective. Now I make a flat image like Jet’s skin or a plaid fabric. layer it over the sketch, turn down the opacity, and warp the layer to best fit the final shape. I then mask out any unneeded bits, use the dodge and burn tools to make the lines of the sketch appear on the textured layer, turn the opacity back up, turn off the layer of the sketch, clean up any rough edges with the “rub” tool, and finally use liquify to bring it to life. This allows me to do complex patterns in a rather simple and consistent way. Now if I need to make the character in another scene in a different pose all the textures are identical.


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