The Great Book Seminar Saga Part III: Final Renders

The Great Book Seminar Saga Part III:
Final Renders which art school leads to nervous break downs and sketches of a mouse in a cowboy hat...

So admittedly, Viktor was completely right. My first sketches were extremely literal, pulling images directly from the story. I really tried to push my character and images further, making images that complement the text rather than simply mirroring it.
I came up with a couple of new sketches that I was super happy with.
Grandpa and grandson go for a walk.

But lets talk about the final renderings for a sec...

So I came to art school to learn, to further develop my eye and hand and truth be told to figure out HOW I work. Most of my cohort came in with a good sense of their preferred materials and methods of working. I'm not 100% convinced by anything that I've used and how I've been using it up to this point. In a nutshell, I've been trying to figure out what my style is.

Woo art school induced breakdowns!

I've spent hours just sitting at my drawing table playing with my paints and pens and even more time just staring at a blank sheet of paper asking myself, "How do I work? What's my style?"

This was my second attempt at coloring. I was actually so frustrated with the first, I tossed it. The first one was a really heavy use of gouache that just got gloppy and thick and completely overworked. This one, I printed my original sketch out on bristol paper and then used my gouache almost like watercolor, trying to just drop in some light washes.

In this revision, I scanned the painted version into the computer, and printed it on bristol. The bristol paper sucks up the computer ink, so it's impossible to get accurate color. That being said, I actually liked the duller color, so I stuck with the printout and then experimented with working some line over my washes with pen.

The experimenting was good, but it has also been a super duper hard thing to do... constantly trying new things, questioning, second guessing, questioning all over again, and then trying something else. Don't get me wrong, SVA is incredible, and I love what I'm doing, but this is the hardest thing that I have ever done.

Anywho, back to the finals... so these first attempts looked okay, but I wasn't satisfied. They were just okay. They lacked the sort of spontaneity and life in my sketchbook and journals drawings. I have spent the last few weeks trying to capture that same sort of line quality. You'd think it'd happen naturally, but for whatever reason, I have some weird mental block about this project. I started trying to figure out why. I thought that maybe it was the subject matter... again, Viktor's something-for-everyone story wasn't exactly my cup of tea. But the story I'm telling is a sweet one. Perhaps it was lack of identification with the protagonist... not much experience with small Bulgarian boys growing up in the mid 80s.

So I tried a bunch of other stuff... the first grandpa and boy sketch (see part I) underwent another two or three revisions:
This is the third or fourth sketch.
And then I realized that the sketch was looking busy. The strongest part of the image was the moment between the grandfather and grandson, so I pulled out the background in yet another sketch and then tried inking it just in pen, thinking maybe I'd do a black and white book. (Had a great conversation with a couple of my classmates - thanks Gant and Pat! - and was encouraged to go back to pen work. They were right. The lines were working much better.)

I kept working with pen and tried coloring in photoshop:

I did a character reference page for my protagonist trying again to imagine who he is and give him more life and character. When he gets older, he actually leaves Bulgaria to go to college in the states, so I added a cowboy hat just as one additional character detail.

And then I had an idea... the main character's nickname is sinko, which means "little mouse"... I thought, if I can't make this feel like me, what about a story about a little mouse? So I tried changing my characters into mice. Hence the mouse in the cowboy hat.
Viktor reeeeeeally didn't like this idea...

But it was after this particular critique - week eight - that I had a lightbulb moment. I've been working for Viktor... trying to please him rather than myself. That realization was actually incredibly freeing, and today I think I may have drawn something that is actually decent... or at the very least that I like.

End Part III

But stay tuned, stay tuned dear readers for what comes next:

The Great Book Seminar Saga Part IV!

... in which Lisa may have done something halfway decent and Viktor is okay with ugly students...

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