Seven…thousand…flippin’…Macedonians…

Seven…thousand…flippin’…Macedonians…

Well, I think I’m going to call this page done for now, other than some tweaks I’ll do when I go back through all the pages of this children’s book…

Toby-Gray-7000-Macedonians-FW

Please, no more Macedonians…

I don’t even know how many hours I put into this page, but it’s got to be close to the combined total for all the preceding pages, even with all the cut and paste “cheats” Photoshop affords me. For those who don’t remember, I’m trying to illustrate a children’s book based on The Announcer’s test, partially popularized by Jerry Lewis, that I learned at Boy Scout camp and have been teaching to my kids and scouts these last several years. It started out pretty simple, I could bang out a page from sketch to “done” in 4-6 hours, almost a page a day.  But, as the numbers get closer to 10, things get weirder and more challenging to draw, and thus more time consuming. Actually, this page could have gone a lot smoother had I thought ahead a bit.  Unfortunately, I didn’t figure out how I was going to get from point A to point B until I was done, I did a lot more work than I needed to.

Just for fun, let’s run through my process for these pages. I always start with sketches for layouts and visual research. Once I settle on a design and collect my reference files, I do a tight-ish sketch, and then a more detailed, finished line drawing. On a new layer under the lines, I block in local colors. For this project I have been using a water color brush that came stock with Photoshop Creative Cloud. On top of the local layer, I add a multiply layer for shadows with a bluish/purplish tint to it. I then add a layer on top of everything to add some highlights where necessary. The text is also on its own layer.

What made this page so challenging was that there was just soooooo much to draw and paint, and I’m obsessive about including little details that no one will ever notice because I have “issues”. The fact that I relied on copy/paste at all still bothers me a little, but, if I didn’t…let’s just say one of my kids would have to finish this book for me. Anywhat, I did a detailed drawing of seven distinct Macedonians, then I copy and pasted that line art over and over again. I ran into lots of overlapping issues that were challenging to manage because, given that the line work is on it’s own layer, all the “white” space is also on it’s own layer.  Which means, wherever there was white space, the pasted lines showed through, which got incredibly headache-inducing to look at and figure out which lines to remove. Multiply that by a squidzillion and you’ll start to understand. Then came the painting. I don’t know if you can tell, but once you get past that first row or two of dudes, there are areas where it gets tough to figure out what piece of armor and who it belongs to you’re looking at. So that took forever. What might have made more sense would have been to paint the original seven, THEN copy and paste. But I didn’t think of that until I was in too deep to go back. However, that would have lead me to the same problem with lines showing through (the “water color” is semi-transparent) but now with color, plus the fact that there’s so much copy and paste going on would be even MORE noticeable. The next problem I hit was creating separation between the ranks…not something that’s good for morale, but it sure makes an image like this easier to look at if there’s more of a focal point near the front and the details in the back are less distinct. Now, if I had thought ahead, not only would I have maybe copy and pasted the original Macedonians after I painted them, but I would have kept the subsequent ranks on separate layers.  This way I could manipulate the fill and opacity of the troops, as well as add layers that suggest atmospheric perspective, as they recede. But, I didn’t.  So, I had to go in there manually and paint in and around way too many figures and little details and armor bits.

Lessons learned.

I hope.

So what’s next? Welllllll, there’s the next page, which would be: 1 hen, 2 ducks, 3 squawking geese, 4 limerick oysters, 5 corpulent porpoises, 6 pairs of Don Alverzo’s tweezers, 7 THOUSAND Macedonians dressed in full battle array…all on one page, followed by 8 brass monkeys from the ancient sacred crypts of Egypt…and then 1-8 on the next page, 9 on it’s own page, 1-9 after that, 10, and finally 1-10…

What was I thinking when I started this?

Anymonkeys, I’m leaning towards taking a break from “10 Things” for a week or so and focusing on coming up with a few more t-shirt designs so I can get that whole thing going. I’m almost set up for the It’s PLUNGER MONKEY DYNAMO Time! shirts on Etsy, but I really want to have more than one item in the store when I open. And I still need to figure a few things out as far as getting the store linked to the print place and whatnot.   I still need to get a FaceBook page up, and get my blog tied to the whole Word Press Reader thingy so more people can find me, and I need to generate more new content and edit and post some old content to give people a reason to come here…

Right, enough typing. TO THE STUDIO!

About the Author:

My brain makes me draw stuff that isn't there, and this is where I put it.

Please let me know what you think, it makes my brain happy.

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