Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Wind in the Willows: Rat & Mole Color Illustration Process

IDW will be releasing my illustrated edition of the Kenneth Grahame classic Wind in the Willows. The book will be Grahame's original text, with over 70 illustrations by me.

For this week's blogpost, I'm going to share the process of one of the color illustrations from Chapter 1: The River Bank:

"..and after a short interval reappeared staggering under a fat wicker luncheon-basket. 'Shove that under your feet,' he observed to the Mole as he passed it down into the boat."

It was very hard to narrow down all the moments in the book to choose to illustrate. Having only 20 color pieces, I had to narrow down eight chapters to have 2, while four of the chapters would have only 1. Here Mole has just made the acquaintance of Rat, and rowed back to his home to pick up a picnic basket so they can enjoy the river bank with an afternoon repast. I sketched out the main characters separately not having them touch to make the compositing of the layout easier. I also drew Rat's front door and dock on a sheet of copy paper.

I then scanned those pencil sketches and in photoshop, composited them into a layout that told the story. I tinted rat and mole different colors to make them easier to spot as well as to make them stand out against the very busy background drawing. The boat is a model I made and photographed. Knowing how many illustrations in this book would require me to draw Rat's boat, I decided to make a model...but that's a post for another time.

You will note that in addition to adjusting the character's angles, positions, and color, I also mirrored Mole from the original drawing.

The digitally composited sketch was then printed out at-size (about 11" x 14") and then taped to the back of a sheet of 300 series Strathmore Bristol. On a light box I was able to see through the bristol's surface to the printout so I could ink on the bristol using the sketch as a guide. For pens, I used Copic Multiliners (the 0.7 & 0.3 nibs). Here I have some in-process photos I took with my phone and posted back when I was inking this piece.

The final inked piece took quite some time to do. I'd planned on the color pieces having less line work and detail than the B&W illustrations, but as I went on with this piece, I didn't see any way to not go into all the detail of the bracken, weeds, grasses, bark, bricks, and wood of Rat's home.

While I knew the added texture linework would only make the illustration process longer on the next 19 pieces, I opted to push forward with the details because it felt the most like my work. I rarely let color do the heavy lifting in my illustrations, and I didn't feel like Wind in the Willows was the right place to start trying out something new in that regard.

The coloring process was as I've detailed it out on my past color blogposts. The first step was to block out all the color areas (Rat's fur, Mole's fur, Rat's clothes, Mole's clothes, the river, the boat, the door, the plantlife, etc.) and then render the image using Dodge & Burn tools with a textured brush (these allow me to highlight and shade while adding a pebbled texture).

Here you can see the completed color image as it will appear in the book along with 19 other color illustrations and 50 B&W.

Wind in the Willows from IDW and is available to pre-order on Amazon.com:

For all my other Willows Process Posts:

2017 Appearances: 
C2E2: April 21-23
Heroes Con: Jun. 16-18
San Diego Comic Con: July 19-23
Baltimore Comic Con: Sept. 22-24


Nick said...

When is the booking coming out? The release date went from Nov 2016 to July 2017.

DPetersen said...

Nick: The book was sent off to the printer a while ago. IDW has given me the updated date of Feb as a release. I know Amazon says July, but once a book doesn't release on time, then tend to set far-off arbitrary dates instead of checking in with the publisher.

More info when I have it.

Nick said...

Thanks so much, can't wait for my copy.

Unknown said...

Absolutely love this edition, and your illustrations are spot-on, so colorful and rich, well-suited to this classic story. Thank you for all your hard work. What a wonderful edition to add to my bookshelf.

Unknown said...

This was great to see! Thanks! I am finishing this book (the book I've loved for years) with your illustrations, and I cannot say how much I enjoyed them. I am already a fan from the all the MG books, but I really enjoyed what you did with Wind in the Willows!

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