dance STEP-by-STEP

Here’s sneak peek into the making of Dance Y’all Dance, a picture book written by Kelly Bennett that I illustrated and is being released this November (Bright Sky Press). It was the most fun project I’ve ever worked on. The story is set in the not too distant past when families, farm hands and cowboys & gals would get together on weekends at the local honky tonk. I did some research into clothing styles, period furniture, Texas symbols and olde timey dance halls, then chose to keep the colors vivid and saturated to give the book a contemporary look.

Once I had the scene sketched, I redrew it on Strathmore 10-ply paper with a Berol Prismacolor pencil…then laid a wash of ultramarine & yellow ochre. With a wet q-tip or small brush, I picked out highlights.

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Using the new tones as a guide, I start to lay in color in gouache, working from dark to light. What interests me now is the design of shadows, losing and finding edges and letting a little of the wash show through as line.  I make an effort to not have perfectly symmetrical faces as I believe it lends to more effective expressions.

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I continue building layers of paint to emphasize form, adding texture, patterns, detail and highlights.  Finally scanning into photoshop, I clean and fine tune the piece.

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So there you have it.  I love playing with color.  I love visiting my works-in-progress (aka “children”) every morning.  I love this job!

Working on:  another country-themed book offering, but that’s all I’m gonna say right now!  In the meantime, here is an interview I did on the author’s website, if’n you’re interested: http://www.kellybennett.com/books/danceyall.html

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