Saturday, February 28, 2015

How I Created The Cover Illustration To The Little People Part I

Once the final written draft to the Little People was complete, and as my family and friends began helping me proof it, I began the process of trying to come up with the cover illustration. I knew that I wanted to include at least one of the main characters as well as several of the animal spirits mentioned in the book.

My initial thought was to show Daya and Adam together so I began doing sketches of various scenes from within the book. Besides doing sketches, I also went into several 3D animation programs. These programs allowed me to take 3D human figures and place them into assorted poses to help created different scenes. One rough scene I did included several of the Little People, animals and Uktena in a large battle scene. I eventually decided it was too busy. After many attempts, I finally settled on a rough sketch that I was happy with. This sketch depicted Daya along with two of the animals perched on a limb in the trees.

I next began doing sketches of Daya’s clothing and ornaments. I went through several designs before settling on what was used in the final rendition. I was looking for something that was recognizable as Native American, but had an original look. I also wanted it to appear to be made of natural elements such as animal hides, bone and stone. I tried to keep the colors somewhat muted so they would appear to be made from natural pigments.

Once Daya’s costume was complete, I then began doing more detailed sketches. I used my 3D program to design a human female figure pose and incorporated that into the design. The final sketch was a composite of several sketches that I put together in Photoshop.

Once the sketches were complete I began looking at how I wanted to illustrate it in color

More in part II

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Change Of Seasons

Lately we’ve seen quite a fluctuation in the weather. One day it is sunny and in the 60’s, the next 10 degrees with snow, sleet and freezing rain, all in the same day. A favorite saying here in the south is all you have to do I wait and the weather will change.

One of the things I tried to incorporate into The Little People while I was writing it, were the changes in the seasons and the weather. Growing up in the south, we were use to extreme changes. The seasons also tied nicely into events such as holidays, school events, birthdays and more.

At the beginning of the story, it is summer. Summers were always a great time for me as a child. Right after my family moved to the south, the time I spent with my grandparents up in the mountains on the river during the summers are some of my fondest memories. Even though the summers were hot and humid, the things a child could do far outweighed the heat. Other than the occasional storm with a chance of tornadoes, summers weren’t bad.

There was always an adventure to be had, some place to explore, and something new to learn. My grandfather taught me how to fish. My grandmother taught me how to cook. There was nothing better than sitting in a lawn chair down on the riverbank with a pole and a line in the water.

Exploring the woods was a favorite pastime. Seeing wild animals in nature was always exciting fun. Of course the insects were never welcome. Mosquitoes, chiggers and ticks were not any fun.

Summer always ended too soon. When school started and fall came around it was always back to business. Of course then there was always winter break to look forward to. We were always happy to get a snow day. Funny how as children we had no idea how stressful and dangerous the snow and ice could be. We were just happy to be out of school.

I could never think of winter and not think about the holidays. The three biggies were Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Halloween was always cool outside and by Thanksgiving we were getting a lots of rain. By Christmas we were hoping for a little snow. Very seldom did we ever actually seem to get any.

We always knew when Thanksgiving was getting close because my father and older brother would begin practicing their duck calls. That’s all we heard around the house for a month up until duck season. It was worth putting up with the noise to get to taste my grandmother’s duck and dressing however. It was always one of my favorites at that time of year.

I think for most of us, the seasons always bring back memories that connect us to important times in our lives. 

Michael Howard