Working on Jet the Frog I have been faced with lots of challenges. Whether it be space or under water. Artistically there is something in every book that challenges my abilities as an artist. In the most recent book not only was there yet a whole new challenge, hair and fur, but it has allowed me to continue to develop my artistic medium and style.
In Jet the Frog’s Big Imagination: Christmas I was going to have to illustrate Santa and his reindeer. This was a daunting task with being such an iconic set of characters. I started with searching for images of reindeer. This gave be both different perspectives and a color pallet to give them an authentic feel. Then I had to develop both a “fur” and a texture for the antlers.
What this latest project has taught me is the importance of creating a texture layer. Once I have a large piece of what I want to use to make my character, I then can mask,warp, or liquify it to achieve the desired effect.
I can then start building it. Think of it as sewing. You don’t just buy the size and shape piece of fabric you’ll need, you buy a large piece to cut out of. I am essentially now doing this on a digital scale.
When I received the manuscript for Jet the Frog at Christmas, I immediately knew where the challenge was. This book has lots of hair and fur. From updating Sorens hair, to Mary’s braid, and from pig skin, to reindeer fur, this book has it all. It was important to me as an artist to try to give each of the characters unique textures and styles for their hair and fur.
Here you can see the reindeer fur texture layer I created. To give it more of a fluffy fur standing on end I used a radial blur tool and then to polish it off I use the oil paint filter. A lot of work goes into these layers and the final character but in the end if I did it right the viewer wouldn’t even notice how unique and different they all are because they fit the effect of what I was illustrating.