Monday, November 07, 2005

Star Sisterz card illustrations

In the LeeAnn Womack post I talked about Star Sisterz so I thought I would show some of them.

Star Sisterz is a collectable charm/card game. Each card describes an activity or task the the player has to complete to receive points or a charm. I’ve worked on three card sets. A total of 54 illustrations targeted for tween-age girls. When I started, the ideal image was Lizzie McGuire.

Illustrators were carefully chosen so their skill set matched up with the card description. I was given some of the more difficult compositions based on the required image. Each card assignment came with a small brief outlining the activity/task to be shown, color scheme, and a general guideline to keep the racial mix balanced, and the clothing not too street. The legal department of Hasbro really did their job on these.

On the first set I did detailed thumbnails, then two increasingly detailed sets of sketches with color notes.
On the second set, after thumbnails, I did one round of sketches and printed them from my computer in a non-repro blue on Bristol board and went right to ink line. The third set was done the same way. All the coloring was done digitally. After getting a nice mix of characters on the first set, I gave all the characters names and reused them for the following two. So all of my card sets feature the same girls. My goal was to have recurring characters that the players would recognize and identify with.

What I enjoyed about this project was that after all the requirements were met for showing the activity , I could concentrate on the details of the characters. Clothes, hair, accessories, posture. I could get into developing the background characters also (mostly boys and adults) to flesh out the scene and ad some real life to the card. All that in a 2inch square space. It doesn’t seem like a big illustrative challenge. But the beauty of being an illustrator is that you can create your own challenge within the assignment. You don’t HAVE to do it, you GET to do it.

Illustration Flavor Mixing: Lee Ann Womack

Most of the time, thematically, assignments alternate from serious to humorous, line to color, caricature to conceptual, back and forth, forth and back.

I had been mired in pink and purple for weeks, doing 22 card illustrations for Star Sisterz, a tween-age girls game. I was ready to switch things up, when No Depression Editor, Grant Alden, called with this assignment, an illustration of Lee Ann Womack. Her music is an easy listening style of almost retro 1970 Country that is light and kind of pop, but very well written and produced. Doing the necessary research, I found her to be friendly, courteous and girlish. Just the kind of traits that I had been putting into the illustrations for Star Sisterz. That’s how the peanut butter hit the chocolate.

Peanut butter flava’.
I did the initial concepts, sketches and airbrushed art just as I like to do, in black and white. I kept me eye on getting the right values and a strong composition with a good use of white space for a lighter feeling overall and a higher key value scale. I had just done a Dolly Parton illustration that was similar in feeling but way darker in value scale.

Chocolaty goodness.
Digitally, I stole the colors from my previous assignment, Star Sisterz, and began to build from there. I added a bit of noise in the background while keeping in mind that this had to have a light frothy bright happy pop, kind of 1970s feeling. By the way, whenever I think of 70’s pop image, I see things surrounded by the Mike Douglas Show set, that explains the flowers, which I did use on the tween-age girl game. It’s not pink and purple. I tried to make Lee Ann more of a butter-honey color, with the bright spot of color being her eyes, which are actually that blue!

Illustrators experiment during down time as a way of bringing new things to their next assignment. That’s is cool, but you don’t have to wait for down time. You can bring what you know or have learned from the previous illustration right along into the next, creating a great new tasty piece of eye candy.