By the time you’re reading this, the new issue of Underneath the Juniper Tree Halloween edition should be out. You can read the entire issue for free here.
The illustration I’d like to share with you today is one I created for “The Ghost of Grammy Goneril” by Austin H. Gilkeson. The story is part of a series from previous issues which tells the adventures of child-witch, Mab-Ipswitch. On all hallows-eve, Mab gets to see her late-granny come back from the after-life… and let’s just say that things get interesting from that point on!
Due to some unforeseen mystical-circumstances, the creation of this art became a last minute task (literally the day before the issue was to go out — yikes! — and it wasn’t my fault, I swear.) And due to other daddy duties, I ended up getting started on it late in the evening, past midnight, and with minor tweaks in the morning.
After reading the story I quickly sketched a digital layout of the scene. At this point I wasn’t sure yet what the details would be, or how Granny and Mab would look like. It looked something like this:
The next step was to gather reference ideas. I busted out my Paranorman Artbook and looked through several art illustration styles online to get inspiration (thanks Google). The first couple of hours seemed like I was a deer staring at headlights, lost and aimless. Sure, I was splattering digital ink on the canvas but nothing was working. I was at one point, not even sure if I could make the deadline.
I had colored the arched-doorway, created the bricked wall, ceilings but alas, it just didn’t feel right. There was no depth, and everything felt flat. So I jumped ship and started adding shadows to create atmosphere and magically it “tied” everything together. The vision became clearer and the world started to come alive.
It was 11pm and things seemed like it was making sense. Initially I had grandma as a “red ghost”, since I wanted to incorporate a warmer color to the overly blue-lighting cast by the night. Instead I switched the red to Mab’s clothing and turned Granny into the traditional green ghost.
Since I’m still fairly new to digital painting and I didn’t have a lot of time to work, I played it safe and created as many layers as needed. I rarely label my layers, so I apologize in advance when you look at the file. If you’re already an expert digital painter you are probably familiar with the techniques and tricks I’ve used, but the beginners might learn something new. Of course, there’s a hundred-ways to skin a cat, and I too, am learning from other artists out there. So whatever I’ve done here is obviously still part of that process.
I hope you enjoy this quick talk about the piece and like I promised, you can download the full layered (lower-res) version below. Please follow me on facebook and twitter or comment below. Peace-out.