Archive for Children’s Book

The Final Illustration!

As the final blots of color scumbled across the surface of the prepared board, I drew in a deep breath and closed my eyes. It is finally finished! The last illustration, DONE! Six months and twenty paintings later, and this project has finally come to a close. After the momentary time of reflection, I pumped my fist in the air and shouted a big “HOOLAH!” My cat, dozing nearby, looked up at me with strange curiosity, but then again, that’s not too unusual for her. What an amazing sense of accomplishment and achievement!

The design decision for the book was to paint all images in a sepia tone except the last spread. The analogy is, as the White House moves into the twentieth century, it suddenly becomes filled with color. For this last painting, I went with a primary color palette, filling the composition with a selection of yellows, reds, and blues. Below is the final result.

Oh, wait, you need me to move my art supplies? Oh, that’s right, this one is a surprise. If you want to see this final illustration, you’ll have to pick up a copy of the book. You can pre-order by following this link here.

A Dynamo Generator

For those of you following my updates on Facebook, this blog, or Instagram, you’ll know that I’ve been working feverishly on the young readers picture book titled “Lights On!”

Below is an illustration featuring Ike, Samuel, and the Navy Admiral examining an Edison Dynamo generator that was going to be utilized as the power source for the White House.

The challenging thing about this project was finding the right image to base this illustration off of. I’m not an electrical expert, especially of antique electrical systems. I had no idea what in the world this thing should look like. After googling “antique generator” I came across several images of generators. Not knowing exactly which ones were historically accurate, I came up with this design.

However, we later discovered an obscure product sales sheet of an Edison Dynamo from around 1890, and realized that this drawing, though I spent a fair amount of time perfecting the perspective, was wrong. It would have to be redone, with the correct Dynamo image.

Sometimes that’s just the way it goes in this industry. It has to be right, so that’s what I did.

By the way, pre-orders are still being taken! Order now, get free shipping and get the book personally signed by yours truly.

Depth and Space

Depth and space are part of the focus of this next illustration for the Light’s On! book on which I’m currently working. In this particular case, the illustration sits opposite of a beach scene and the contrast in the story is that while the President and his family are all relaxing at a beach vacation location to avoid the sweltering Washington DC summer heat, Ike is stuck in the hot crawl spaces of the White House. This is the only illustration in which I wanted to explore an extreme top down view. I decided to add a number of vertical perspective lines receding in order to emphasize the point of view. I wanted the image to convey a sense of uncomfortable vertigo and slight claustrophobia. Since I can’t turn up the thermostat in your living room as come across this illustration, I had to try and find other ways to visually give that sense of overwhelming heat.

To the right, you can see my process. I drew Ike and the perspective on two separate layers, combined them digitally, and then retraced the completed image on board.

By the way, pre-orders are being taken! Order now, get free shipping and get the book personally signed by yours truly.

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Replicating Louis Tiffany’s Masterpiece

Replicating Louis Tiffany’s masterpiece can be a challenging thing. This next illustration for the children’s book “Lights On!” illustrates Ike and Samuel walking down the Cross Hall as it might have looked in 1890. The problem is, there’s only 3 grainy photos I was able to find of the Cross Hall and the famed Tiffany glass partition that separated the Cross Hall from the entry way. In 1904, Theodore Roosevelt remodeled the White House and one of the things he did was have the stained glass wall removed in order to open up the space.

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In order to make this illustration, I employed several tricks. First, I roughed up a generic point of view in my thumbnail sketches. Even though in this piece the vanishing points are really close together (much closer than would be in reality) I loved the gaping, cavernous feel it gave, so I kept the original perspective from my thumbnail sketches. (I tried a version where I “corrected” the placement of the vanishing points, and found the image to be too boring). I then gridded everything out and I aligned the columns, windows, and ceiling tiling in the grid.

Then, on a separate sheet of graph paper, I drew out the stained glass design as best as I could approximate. In Adobe Illustrator, I created a ceiling design based upon one of the photos I had. I took the flat stained glass design and ceiling design and digitally warped and fit them into my gridded perspective drawing. This was then all traced on board. For my underpainting, I separated the light areas and the shadow areas first, and then I proceeded to paint the detail inside of both. Believe me, the detail was as arduous as it looks. I labored over it, because I wanted it to have a wow factor at the end.

By the time I finished, seven days later, the paint on my palette had pretty much all dried up and my detail brushes were all shot. But, in the end, I think it’s worth it.

PS. I did not do enough research to know where the stained glass ended up, I’m guessing it’s in a museum somewhere. If you know, feel free to send me an email.

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Travel Back to 1890 with Me

In case you don’t follow me on Instagram (…um… if not, why? @hummelillustration), I am in the middle of illustrating a historical picture book about Ike Hoover, the young man who wired the White House for the very first time. Those familiar with my work, know my propensity toward historical illustration, and in specific, I have a tender spot for the latter Victorian/Industrial age as it emerges into the Belle Epoch era at the turn of the century. Everything about this story is tailor-fit to me and my illustration style.

The book is titled “Lights On!” It is being published by Filter Press and will be released in 2017. I have a total of 20 illustrations to complete. I’m using this opportunity to really explore what I can do with perspective, as I have been challenged with a variety of unique settings both inside and out of the White House. As the book nears completion, I’ll release other blogs about it, so stay tuned!

Like all of my work, the process is what makes the final successful. A lot of research and a lot of time spent in the preliminary stages. Here is a sneak peak of some of the illustrations, but certainly, I’ll keep posting my progress on Instagram.

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A Girl, A Horse, and Her Dog

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For the past three months, I have been secretly working on illustrations for a children’s chapter book with the tentative title as seen above. Yesterday, I put the final touch of pencil down on the last illustration, finally concluding the project. One color cover and twelve grayscale interior illustrations are now finished and ready for publication.

This project was a challenge for me. It involved drawing children with horses and a border collie, nothing I am familiar with or comfortable drawing. Some of the pieces required intense perspective grids (which I am familiar with, but it does take time). In order to get myself into illustration shape, I did what any illustrator would do, I filled sketchbooks full of studies of horses, border collies and children, until I had figured out a look and feel in which to work.

I also procured my own photo reference, setting up photoshoots with a friend who had a border collie and another friend who had a daughter who just happened to be the right age, plus several other children who helped out for some of the crowd scenes.

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I’m still not ready to show all of the illustrations yet, not until the book is published, but I wanted to show off the cover and the last interior illustration I worked on: Christmas Pageant. In order to create visual interest with this piece and the rest of the book, I decided that this would be a great place to set up a bird’s view perspective. Doing so properly would require perspective.

The different squared shapes (the stable and the inn flat) are not parallel to each other, thereby requiring their own set of vanishing points. Add to that, I decided to make this a three point perspective grid, so the vertical lines drop to a point beneath the action. Because of this, the characters also had to be subjected to three point perspective, and I tried to emphasize this as I could when rendering them. You can see a copy of the perspective grid I created. I usually create my perspective grids in Adobe Illustrator, that way I can set my vanishing points as far off the paper as I need to and be able to access them quickly and conveniently. Illustrator also allows me to draw vanishing lines rapidly. Since Illustrator is very technical, I’ll print out the grid, place it under my sheet of Bristol, and then render the scene with its nuances using a light table.

So, the next time you see an illustration of mine that has a lot of perspective, that’s how I do it. As soon as the book is published, I’ll update this blog and provide links for you to acquire a signed copy.

Sneak Peak

New project. While I won’t divulge all the details, know this: It’s about a girl, her horse and her dog in 1950s Colorado Springs. It’s a chapter book for children. I’m going to attempt a new look for this book, but one that I think is appropriate. Instead of my traditional pen and ink, I’m going to add pencil to that, in order to better create the soft and subtle grays normally associated with children. Here’s a sneak peak.

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Exciting News! Sneak peak on an upcoming book.

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Exciting news! Please keep following this blog, as developments continue to progress, I will post them right here, but I am so enthusiastic right now I’m about to bubble out of my skin. For five years almost, a children’s book I wrote in honor of my grandmother is finally being moved off the back burner and into my full, now only partially divided attention and I am starting to work on getting this thing illustrated. It’s still quite secretive, but as it develops I’ll leak out little bits and pieces, to keep your appetite whetted and to build the anticipation. Nothing like a good cliff hanger, right?

To get started, I’m not going to say much about the story except for this: Time travel, wild west. Excited yet? Here is are some model sheets for some of the characters from the book.