Designing Sketches…

Sketches often seem to develop as they are worked on. The Whatchamacallit from yesterday’s post was going to be a small “spot” illustration, since my thumbnail for that page only included the one item. The sketch began with taking a bunch of pictures of it out in the sunlight. This one gave me the best light/shadow combination, which will help when it comes time to paint…

First, I sketched it in my sketchbook to practice the shapes and angles. Then I noticed an old milk can in the store that would look great beside it. And then I remembered that I want to try to tuck a pumpkin or two in each illustration, so in went a pumpkin. Then my kitty was playing the “I want in, I want out” game, which always involves lot of leg rubbing… and a bell went off in my head that she might be very interested if she lived on a farm, and this Whatchamacallit was in use.

Last, but not least, I looked back at my storyboard, and discovered I had drawn the whole scene backward. It needed to be reversed. So I flipped it over on my makeshift iPad lightbox and traced the lines on the back of the paper. (VERY makeshift… You have to draw carefully so you don’t damage the iPad screen, and the touch sensitive screen will also wiggle around under your drawing if it senses your hand movement!)  Then, I retraced a better version on my desk/lightbox… Several times, until it was “just right.” And then a final, very light tracing onto watercolor paper, using a sharp 4H pencil. (Not 4-H the club, 4H the hardness grade!)

It’s been challenging to learn how to design a sketch over the years. An artist has to think about the elements that should be in the picture, arrange them in the space you want to fill, and wiggle them around until they fit and seem balanced in the composition. I used to try to draw the whole thing from memory, and then get frustrated because it didn’t look right. Gradually, I’ve learned to take photos from different angles, use Google image searches to find quick reference pictures, and to keep a sketchbook filled with lots of various sketches that you might need later. And to be patient… a good illustration has been drawn and drawn and drawn again!

P.S…. Did you figure out what the mystery item is?

It’s a Cream Separator!

Fresh milk has the cream all mixed in with the milk, but if you let it sit for a short while, the cream will rise to the top. This style of separator has two small windows that lets the farmer see when the cream and milk have separated, and the milk can be tapped off the bottom. You can still buy a similar version!  The “whole milk” that we buy in the grocery store today is “homogenized,” which means it’s been processed so the fat or cream is broken down into smaller bits that won’t separate from the milk. Not too long ago, they even sold milk in special “Cream on Top” bottles, so you could pour the cream off at home… They’re a fun dairy collectible!

See all the blog posts about making
Pie from Scratch!
by clicking below!

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