Glad to hear that other people experience these little fits of artwork
angst, too! You're not alone. And how many times have you heard "Oh, it
must be wonderful just to get to draw all day. It must be so relaxing"?
I don't know if these will address the specific source of frustration and
whether this is all stuff you've already tried, but here are a couple of
The first thing might be to create a storyboard which follows your friend's
text and helps you plan what, where, and when you want to have an
illustration. Stick figures will work just fine at this point. Decide first
which passages need pictorial emphasis and then create transitions to and
from them. This can help you figure out how many drawings you need to do,
how much detail to put into each (cuz some will need more than others), and
will give you a feel for the "timing". I don't know whether the entire book
will be illustrated frame by frame or if your illustrations will serve as
rim-shots to the text, but those are the kinds of issues the storyboard can
help you resolve.
Second, if you have any characters which are repeated throughout the story,
spend some time developing them. Draw them in different poses and from
different angles. Get to know them. The time spent can really pay off.
A friend of mine turned me on to the cartoonist Alex Toth's website. These
cartoons are definitely not for small children and have nothing to do with
scientific illustration. In fact, there's lots of super-hero stuff and I
can't vouch for the tastefulness of everything on the site, as I haven't
looked at it that extensively (my disclaimer). But the guy is a master of
his medium: he's obviously very comfortable drawing the human figure and
has an excellent sense of composition. Check out his site for compositional
ideas if nothing else. http://www.tothfans.com/ I'm a firm believer that
one can learn useful stuff from a wide range of sources, even super-hero
Another cartoonist to check out (with a slightly more natural history bent)
is Walt Kelly and his great, beloved strip "Pogo". I don't have a website
handy but I'm sure there's stuff out there. If you're not familiar with the
strip, it featured funny but well drawn animal characters (Pogo the Possum,
Churchy the Terrapin, Albert Alligator, etc.) and featured Kelly's dry wit.
Classic stuff! Definitely something to emulate.
Hope some of this helps. Most of all, try to have fun with it!
>I've agreed (begrudgingly) to illustrating a children's book for a friend
>of mine. It's been so long since I've done any cartooning and was
>wondering if anyone would have any suggestions or could direct me to some
>helpful reference material. I've been staring at blank illustration board
>or throwing it across the room in fits of anger since I attempted to
>begin. I'm near the end of my rope. Thanks for any assistance or advice
>(other than I shouldn't have agreed to do it).
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Corvus Art, Natural History Illustration
PO Box 19434
Kalamazoo, MI 49019