Thursday, November 09, 2006

RESEARCH!!!...and don't forget to back up your stuff...

My senior capstone project that I chose to do was an illustrated children's book on the plagues of Egypt. (Thanks to Matt Cram and Greg Lyon for being such great instructors during my time under their watch and being flexible.) As previously stated, it is always good to have a story for what you are doing, no matter how simple. This one was already taken care of but it was a spectacular journey none the less and required more research than any other thing I've done before or since.

Each of the plagues was directed to a specific god(s) worshipped by the Egyptians and was really meant to discredit their power and authority. The first step was to find the specific gods and any visual/written information to base the illustrations on. Some were relatively easy, some not so much. The key was not to give up!!! Sometimes there is artistic license expected but usually the information is there to help with 'educated' rendering. Sometimes students will only dig as deep as the first few items to pop-up on the internet and give up or have little or weak info to go on. After getting what I needed over the course of several weeks I sketched out the gods (with my own spin while trying to remain accurate) and drew the items in Illustrator.

Along the way I found out great information about the daily lives of the Egyptians and how the plagues would have affected them...for instance, shaved heads with wax to hold on wigs (lice)...the Egyptians also had a furnace for sacrifices and used the ashes for their own 'purification' ceremonies (ashes from the furnace were scattered to the wind and became boils)...the biting flies carried disease that caused blindness (note the start of the hazing of the eyes). These items helped to come up with 'cut scenes' placed within the page as well adding visually interesting touches.

Sketches were imported into Photoshop and painted using the sketch as a basic template. No lines were visible (like in the Holocaust piece) and no outlining was done other than the importing of the Egyptian gods. Lots of layers and the same process of screening and multiplying with the airbrush tool.

So it is important to do solid research and get your hands dirty...and the best artists that I know tend to be the ones that do the most research and are 'students of life'...always trying to figure out what makes the clock work and taking it apart if need be to gain the insight.

The two-page section shows the general layout for the text page which brings us to the warning. DON'T FORGET TO SAVE OFTEN AND HAVE AT LEAST ONE BACKUP COPY! CD's are exceptionally cheap and portable hard drives are pretty cheap too. ALWAYS save a copy with all your layers for adjustments. At some point I wish to revisit this item but I didn't have backup copies of everything and a student accidentally reformatted my portable HD...I lost 4 years of work with very few items recovered!!! And some of the items I did recover were flattened and will need to be completely redone. But hey, they always say it gets better the second time around!

1 comment:

Ammon said...

This sounds like it was a great project.

Is it your site that is almost ready?