@AnnaLandin and the Commission of Images

As you can see, Echoes of Dust has a new blog look. Kit Campbell asked me to recode her WordPress blog about four to five months ago and as part of the redesign, she asked Anna Landin to create her a blog header image. In the interests of fairness, I was forced by circumstance to hand the redesign over to someone else when it was maybe ninety, ninety-five percent done from my perspective. I haven't felt like asking Kit how much more work was put into it. *looks abashed*

Being in awe of Anna's talents already, I decided this was a brilliant idea and commissioned Anna myself. What follows is Anna's tale of how she accomplished it. (And yes, the blog title is a Harry Potter joke. Shut up.)

Anna can be found at her Tumblr.

Di asked me to do a blog post describing my creative process—using her brand new banner as an example, so here we go.

Drawing for someone else is different from drawing for yourself. For one thing, you have to be a lot clearer. When creating for myself, I tend to go on instinct, and as a result, my process can be quite chaotic. I scribble and mess up and erase and rework things mid-process—I am able to suggest things with a few lines or a blob of colour that are entirely obvious to me, but which are rather cryptic to anyone else. When drawing for someone who isn't me, and isn't privy to my thoughts, I have to clear things up and take them step by step.

So let's get to those steps!

Di sent me a description of what she wanted, as well as an excerpt from a story so that I could get a better feel for the scene. I read through these and went away to stare at a wall for a while (an integral part of the creative process, I promise). [She's not wrong. —Dianna.] After enough staring, I broke out my pencil and sketchbook and started doing rough thumbnails.

Thumbnail 1

Thumbnail 2

I use the thumbnails—which are only a few inches across—to get a grip on the composition of the image, and to make sure I work in all the elements that have been asked for—while at the same time avoiding clutter. Too much clutter can make an image hard to read. As you can see, they're very rough, and in this case only for myself.

I then moved on to coloured digital sketches, working up a few different alternatives for Di to choose from.

sketch 1

sketch 2

sketch 3

Personally, I prefer the brown one, purely for colour-scheme related reasons, but the bluer one was closer to Di's story, so we went with that one.

…It was at this point I realised that I didn't know how to paint a semi-realistic rainbow without it completely wrecking my colour-scheme, but giving up is for losers, so I went hunting for reference-photos and practised. Three cheers for learning on the job!

Having chosen a rough sketch, I went about cleaning it up, tightening up colours and lines, erasing stray bits of sketch, etc. I sent pictures to Di throughout the process for her to approve, and we discovered that I'd misunderstood a part of the design brief: the rainbow road I'd painted was far too steep and sharply arched. She wanted a flatter, more meandering kind of path, so I went back to fix that.

fixed rainbow

The benefit of keeping different elements of the painting in different layers is that tweaks like this are easy to do: I could fix the arc of the rainbow without having to touch any of the other bits. This came in handy when I had to tweak the composition a bit; shifting important elements away from the bottom-center of the image, because they'd get covered by text otherwise.

A bit of final polish—getting rid of some scribbly lines, adjusting the colour balance, adding some silvery glow for the magic, etc—and changing the writing from my own horrible handwriting to an actual font, and we're finished!



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