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Back in the Saddle Again (Again)

May 1, 2009

This week I did, in fact, sketch a whole lot more. However, I found myself working on characters and scenes from my new novel…and I am not quite ready to unveil that world just yet…so you’ll have to wait a bit before I share those sketches.

But I broke out the pen and inks (and even a little watercolor) to get my brain back into the realm of Spiderwick. Below are some gestural sketches of fantastic characters from the new series, Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles.


Okay, the first thing worth mentioning here is that none of these are referenced. I know what I said back in the previous posts, but for me, these are less about visual accuracy and more about getting loose (and reacquainted) with the tools. So I took this giant doodle and brought him up to a finish pencil drawing.



Then, I put a little ink wash on him and even inked in some of the darker spots. I have found that inking an image after gives a very different effect than when inking prior. I tend to be much more conservative on where these rich blacks go, so as not to overwhelm the pencil marks and pools of ink wash.  Peter DeSeve is a contemporary illustrator who excels at this approach.

But usually, I ink first – in the tradition of most Golden-Age illustrators (Arthur Rackham, A.B. Frost, Edmund Dulac, etc). I keep the sketch very loose, like this doodle of Sandspur.


…and force myself to do some serious drawing with the ink. This prevents that frozen, lifeless look which happens when all of the lines are simply traced over with the ink. Both approaches have their merits, but for loosening up, I prefer this.


Here I take this simple sketch of Taloa the nixie…


…and add a little watercolor wash to the linework. To me, this excercise is more like tinting a doodle. It is a vignette, a study.

Normally, these little warm-ups find their way into the flat file, or are given to friends. These three, however, will be given away as prizes from Simon & Schuster at various conventions this year (including San Diego Comic Con and BookExpo America). Stop by their booth if you are planning on attending, perhaps you may even score one…

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Never Abandon Imagination Tony DiTerlizzi: Never abandon imagination.

Imagination is a world of possibility that exists within each of us. It is what makes us uniquely human. It is our creative fingerprint that touches and influences the world around us. Imagination is essential to art and science; to innovation and prosperity. It gives us hope, calls us to action and leads to change.

Whether it’s fairies, dragons, robots or aliens, all of my children’s book characters are siblings born of my imagination – an imagination strengthened through years of encouragement from family, teachers and friends. While so many others abandoned it during their transition from childhood to adulthood, I fiercely held onto mine, hoping for a day when I could share it to inspire the next generation of dreamers. Innovators. World changers.

Imagination empowers us to envision and create a reality of what could be. We must hold it dear, foster it and never abandon it.