Last week I had a wonderful time hosting an Illustrative course called Sketch Story Monsters through the Walla Walla Public Library's media lab, Crew Space. The casual class roomed 10 students who went through the process of drawing, painting, and lastly, verbally shaping their characters. It was a delight!
Students were presented a single sheet of watercolor paper with a pre-printed set of either monster eyes, feet, or mouth for them to build upon. Another sheet of tracing paper was offered to allow for play and thought ontop the watercolor sheet. Once students had gotten their structure or thoughts down on the tracing paper, they could either step into the water color paper freely with their microns pens or they could transfer the tracing paper sketch with the transfer technique (presented here).
I started with a set of pre-printed eyes and then sketched a few fuzzy critters on my tracing paper. I opted in for the transfer technique and then solidified my fuzz-balls with micron. When drawing out my monsters, I imagined what their personality traits, environments, eating patterns, and the like where. This helped me ultimately decide what they looked like! I liked the idea of my guy on the left being monkey-like in his mannerisms and my guy on the right being sheepish and giraffe like. (and let's be honest, those wings are getting him around!)
Inked monsters on watercolor paper
After drawing, it was time to step in with some wet medium. The students were given a full pallet of gouache medium to paint with. Painting was the most fun as it seemed to bring our creatures to life! For instance, when I began coloring my monster, I started to think of the fringe around his neck not as feathers, but maybe collected leaves. Maybe he likes to dress himself in forest materials. Maybe he steals them from nesting birds or collects them from fallen trees...these thoughts all add character to our creations.
Color in process
After coloring, students had the option of presenting their monsters and explaining their traits, personality, and the like. Each monster was given a story - bringing a conclusion to Sketch & Story Monsters!
I loved the sort of free-form thinking this class inspired. Illustration is about more than how something looks, it's about why something looks the way it does! What's the scene, point, or reason for it? Illustration is about telling a story beyond the written page. Why might my monster have horns? Does he need it for defense? Why is one broken? Did he get in a scuff? or perhaps he rubs at them the way a parrot does to his beak to keep it from overgrowing? What reason does he have the green foliage around his neck? Does he think of it as decoration? Does his tail help him grab items or swing him about? All of these questions were spawned by the drawing itself and the concept design, although dreamy and imaginary, is utilitarian as well.
Thanks for reading! You can find more process works in Instagram.