Live drawing for Cartoonbase

A while ago, I was commissioned by Cartoonbase to do a live-drawing during the opening-event of the new Gyproc factory. This meant having to draw on a huge canvas of Gyproc boards, on a stage, in front of about 300 people.

Normally this would be something that would scare me instantly: drawing in front of an audience, and not being able to correct the drawing with a gum or such either. But after a meeting with the nice people at Cartoonbase, I realized it wasn’t that scary as I thought in the beginning, and I decided to just go for it. And you know what; an unexpected thing happened while I was drawing at the event: I really enjoyed it!

So it is confirmed once again: it is good to leave your comfort-zone once in a while :-)

You can see some pictures of the live-drawing below.

finalist of the KeyColours competition!

I am very glad to announce that my picturebook 'Helme's Grote Hoofd' not only made the longlist of the KeyColours picturebook competion, which means my work will be included in the exhibition, but I also am one of the six finalists of this important picturebook competion!

This competition is organized by the city of Hasselt, in association with Clavis Uitgeverij. It is a pretty well-known international competition which receives a lot of entries from illustrators throughout Europe, so I am very excited being one of the final six.

My work will be exhibited in the Kleurboel- exposition in the Stadsmus in Hasselt, from 22 september to 4 november. Of course, you are all invited to go take a lookC

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boardgame about climate change

A while ago, I was commissioned to make a game of goose for de Boekenkaravaan, so today, I want to shed some light on how this boardgame came about.

The boardgame was intended to teach children a thing or two about climate change in a playful context, and to install the awareness that climate change has a direct influence on the entire planet and all its inhabitants. Of course this project immediately appealed to me, since climate change and sustainability are things I feel strongly about.

The people at de Boekenkaravaan wanted the game to have the structure of a game of goose (ganzenbord in Dutch), in which the pawns would race to be the first to arrive at the finish, and with special tiles on the board that would set you back or give you some advantage in the race. (I think we all played this game at least once in our lives, so I'm sure there is no need for me to explain the rules any further) They also wanted the pawns to be animals, but apart from these simple guidelines, I was free to fill in the blanks to my best judgement.

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I was paired up with Lynn Rongé who took care of the copy for this game. Together we decided early on that the animals would each represent a season, and that, while travelling the board, these animals would pass through the seasons as well. Picking out the animals who would symbolize the different seasons was easy: we chose a swallow to represent spring, a dolpin for summer, autumn would be symbolized by a hedgehog, and winter would be a polar bear. While playing, the animals would come across things that would have a direct impact on them due to climate change. Those tiles could set back some animals, but could leave others unaffected or could sometimes benefit them. So, on their journey, the animals would have to deal with early frost, early thaw, heatwaves, forest fires etc.

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Now that the concept was clear, it was time for me to design the game. While this concept surely triggered my imagination, it was also clear to me that it posed some difficulties design-wise. For instance, the four animals we chose all lived in different elements: one lived in the sky, one in the sea, one on the ground, and one partly in the sea and on the ground, which raised some difficulties in designing a landscape in which all of these animals would be able to travel together. A second thing was that the board also had to show the passing of the seasons in some way, while still retaining a visual harmony.

At this point I hit my drawing board and started sketching. Initially I tried to keep the tiles of the different seasons somewhat separated, so I sketched a lot of different ways for the tiles to meander on the board, each season in their own corner, and I also sketched ideas for the background, in which the tiles led through the landscape of different continents, seen from above, but it instantly became clear that this approach would show way too many details that would lead the attention away from the game itself, and, although showing different habitats, it didn't really show the different seasons either. Also, the ideas in which the tiles followed somewhat intricate patterns with the seasons separated looked too hectic, especcially when the colors would be added. (At this point, I still tried out four color palettes to show the different seasons.)

Normally, I would show you the sketches I made here. But I have to admit that when I'm trying out a lot of different ideas on paper for my own eyes only, those sketches tend to look rather rudimentary, and although I might be able to read them perfectly, I doubt other people would make much of them... But I do promise to show sketches in my next blog post!

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After I made all of these different sketches and saw what didn't work, I decided to go back to basics, and keep it simpler, balancing all of the elements to match each other. I decided to refrain from showing an intricate background landscape that featured different continents, and I also simplified the color palettes to show the seasons. Instead of four, clearly defined color palettes, I chose soft light blue hues for the colder times, that would gradually change to creamy orange hues for the warmer seasons. As for the tiles: in stead of the wilder, swirling routes the tiles took in some of the sketches, I now opted for a soft, boxy spiral to fit all of them. I also designed the animals with softly rounded, boxy lines, to make sure that they looked in harmony with the board itself. For the background I ended up with one grassy meadow, that would have a different appearance in each corner of the board, to represent the passing of the seasons.

I chose gouache to color the illustration, to give it an opaque and substancial look, and colored pencil to add details.

Below you can see the game as it looked in the newsletter, ready to be printed out, play and start a discussion with children.

I guess there is only one thing left for me to ask. Who wants to play? I call the hedgehog!

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editorial illustration for the Covent Gardener

I have been meaning to blog more regularly about my work and process for a while now, but it was something I easily forgot. BUT! This time I took blogging into account when I made my planning for 2018, so I hope to be able to publish a little blogpost every two weeks on monday, starting with this one.

People regularly ask me what steps are involved in working with an illustrator, so my main goal for these blogposts is to give you some more insight into how I go about creating an illustration, from my tools to the different steps in the developing process, to shed some more light upon that subject. And, of course, if you are like me, it is just very nice to see process pictures.

I will also share some tutorials from time to time, and experiences that were important for me as an illustrator.

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Today I would like to show you a bit of my process for this illustration I was commisioned to do for the Covent Gardener magazine. I chose this project to be the first to write about, because I think the process used here will give you a pretty good idea of how working with me mostly will be.

When the lovely AD of Covent Gardener magazine, Jeannine Saba, contacted me about an illustration for the autumn issue of the magazine, we talked about the theme of the issue and what she needed the illustration to look like. She didn't have a very specific image in mind, but she liked it to include one or more of the well-known buildings in the London Covent Garden area, some autumn imagery, and since the theme of the issue was 'tattoos', I could work with that theme too. Apart from that, I was given artistic freedom.

With that in mind, I read through the text of the diary page, where my illustration would be placed, and underlined all the elements that could work in an illustration. This included the locations that were mentioned and some of the activities, like a Halloween-party on a boat on the Thames. I did some research of the buildings and locations mentioned, and because the timeline was rather narrow, I started sketching straight away. I wanted to provide three different approaches to the subject, so the three sketches I ended up coloring in and sending to Jeannine, was a rather classic illustration of Somerset House with an autumn feel, a more playful take on the Halloween-party on the Thames, and a stylish hipster with a tattoo of Somerset House on his arm and an autumn pattern on his vest.

My favorite of the three sketches, the bearded hipster, was chosen to complete.

At this stage, I usually offer a round of corrections in the sketch phase, which means you can still ask for anything to be changed when I show the first sketches, but no changes were asked, so I could go straight on to completing the final illustration.

Above you can see the quick sketches I made. You can see they don't look like finished work, but their main purpose is to show the composition of the elements in the illustration, and an idea of the color that will be used. You can more or less think of them as low-res previews of the final image.

After the sketch to work from is chosen, comes the time I park myself at my drawingboard and get serious with my pencils or other tools. After I complete the illustration and some coffees were consumed, I scan the image, and mostly do some minor cleaning up in photoshop.

And then this is how the finished illustration looked like, printed in the magazine, with text and lay-out added. It was a pleasure to work on this illustration, and we were both pretty pleased with the outcome, so this is a job with good memories attached for me :-)

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I hope you enjoyed reading this little article, and that it gave you some insight into my process. I will be writing about other projects too of course. Sometimes the 'making of' can vary somewhat, but the key elements are always lots of communication to make sure that we are on the same page (no pun intended), some research, and of course, lots of drawing.

 

If you have any requests about subjects you would like me to write about, please let me know! Would you like to see more process-images or video's, drawing tutorials, some insight into the life of an illustrator, or a post about the tools I use, I would be glad to hear it!