Well this turned out to be a doozy of a project. It started out as a simple “head replacement” assignment. You might remember seeing it here. Initially, The original artist penciled in the figures and her artwork was “inked” in Adobe Illustrator. Which is fine and dandy, but the writer/publisher/money wasn’t thrilled with the results. The artwork was deemed a little too realistic/not-so-fun. With my “cartooning” background, I was asked to replace the heads. Seemed simple enough. And it was, until it was time to “marry” my heads to the originals.
The biggest problem I had was finding out that all of the elements (text, photographic backgrounds, and characters) were combined in Adobe InDesign (the preferred way to publish.) I don’t have InDesign or Illustrator, so I was forced to “recreate” the finished artwork as best I could (with only Photoshop.) I uploaded those pictures and got my check. I thought my contributions turned out pretty well. I didn’t redraw the original artists’ characters (I’m no inker) so it was a team effort. I think what I’d done in addition to adding more personality to the characters’ faces, was add facial consistency and continuity. Pervis the pigeon’s hat is uniform from page to page, and the female quail is obviously female despite a lack of accessories.
And then I got a phone call.
“So [my wife] and I have gone back and forth with the illustrations for the Quail Book. We have spoken with a few different people about how they look and one suggestion kept being made: either go with one illustrator or the other. People seem to pick up on the fact that the heads of the birds have a different 'look' than the bodies.
So we are not in a great situation with this because we like your illustrations but we already have full completed birds by the other artist. I know you are a busy guy, but we just wanted to ask you three questions:
1. Would you be interested in just redrawing the entire bird, not just the head/face? You could just use the same poses and layout that we already have, we would just need you to make it all look uniform and of the same style.
2. How much would you charge to do it?
3. How quickly could you get it done?
If we went with you, we would need it completed by Sept. 25th at the latest. If this is not possible, then I think we will just use the images from the other artist.
No pressure on this, I know you have a lot going on but we thought it would be worth a shot.”
Being the “freelance illustrator” that I fantasize I am, I said “yes” and continued to plow through my western comicbook pages. Dumbass.
When I finished my western pages, I jumped head first into the full-body replacement art. With three days left before the deadline, I knew: Chill the F@#* out guys! I got this.
Days one and two were spent tracing/drawing the new character bodies (why redraw the heads right?) and setting up the pages. Again the final revision was a pdf., so I had to increase the resolution in Photoshop and wait FOREVER for the pages to load. This is a very by the numbers/rote process. I set up ALL the pages at once for that step of the process. (ex. STEP 1: A-Z, STEP 2: A-Z ect. Instead of A:Step 1-10, B: Step 1-10, etc.)
And then, on Day 3, it took me two-and-a-half hours to complete five pages.
Now, it’s no surprise that I fantasize that I’m a professional, freelance illustrator, but part of that fantasy is having a wife who will say,” I’ll get the kids out of your hair and we’ll leave so you can get your work done. You’re the best! Love you. Bye.”
The reality is: YOU’VE HAD HOW MANY DAYS TO WORK ON THIS? AND YOU WERE WORKING ON THE STUPID WESTERN PAGES THAT NO ONE’S EVER GOING TO SEE!? STUPID!
I was torn: throw away “easy” money at let them know I can’t do it, or do it, and have it consume my life for a day?
I sent the following email with the picture you see topside:
Okay. So I'm not going to make the deadline today. I've attached two pages of comparisons and if you like what you see and can give me another week, I can have it done for you (realistically). I have all 29 pages worth of drawings done, I'm just taking longer than I would have liked to "reconstruct" some of the backgrounds. I can invest a lot of time coloring this tonight, but I don't know if I'll cross the finish line in time. I know we didn't agree to a deadline extension and that September 25 was the latest you needed these. If I'm too late, I understand and I apologize. No hard feelings on my part (I'll just be kicking myself, that's all.)
Anywho, I like the revised text and pics, and can't wait to see the finished book!
And was replied by:
These look good from my phone. I will take a better look in a bit. We do need these as soon as possible. Can you just post them to the Dropbox as you finish each page? Is there any way you can complete them by Wednesday? Anything after that is really going to put us in a bind.
To which I replied:
Absolutely. I'll get these to you asaMFp!
This was not the ideal way for me to illustrate a picture book. The project started with a “penciler” and those drawings were sent to a designer. So now, here I am, artist number three who is basically filling the role of inker. The heads are on a different file that the bodies. The original art (charatcters/poses) is still there, it just has my interpretations on top of them. In many instances I found myself confined to the parameters of the original contours of the first drawings (to keep from having to recreate the photographic backgrounds. For example, the finished art you’ll see is not representative of how I’d draw a baseball cap.)
So I took Tuesday off and finished the project. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING makes me happier than calling in sick to school. I was on cloud nine when I finished!
Then my wife found out I took the day off (and “lied” to her. And that’s a whole other argument. Sheesh!)
And then I went back to school.
And now I’m going through Happiness Withdrawls