Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Illustrating The Yellow Tutu, Part 2

Varying perspective from page to page helps maintain the reader's interest. I also hoped a close-up would draw readers into Margo's experience of the tutu. A very rough early sketch shows the seed of my idea -- I imagined Margo splashing in a sea of tulle.

The hard part was finding a way to depict both the texture and transparency of the fabric. After many false starts with paintbrushes and pastels, and staring helplessly at the dancers of Degas, I muddled my way onto a technique that involved neither yellow pastel nor paint. I rubbed black conte crayon over rough paper, scanned the result into Photoshop, and put that image through a long series of insane and improvised steps. The Dance of the Twisted Tutu. My final illustrations had so many Photoshop layers, I was embarrassed to show anyone my files. What's that line -- "Don't let them see you sweat"? (Alas, it was too late by then for such demure sentiments. My art director, Tracy, had seen me sweat more than an Axe commercial in trying to get it right, though she never wavered in her gracious help. I was darned lucky to have her on my team.)

I had initially planned to use more traditional media for the final illustrations of The Yellow Tutu, but kept gravitating to Photoshop for its flexibility and plethora of possible effects. Eventually, I did the whole book digitally. I used a digital pen and tablet, and it felt like painting to me.

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