Endsheets Complete!

 

It was both a blessing and curse to find out that Procreate keeps track of how long I’ve been working on illustrations. I average about 8 hours on the larger ones. Endsheet #2 took over 12 hours. That’s real time, pen in hand.

These days, I don’t have hours at a time to really work, so I’ve been making the time. 10 minutes here. 30 minutes there. It works because I get tired out when it comes to adding the tonality — I start rushing and it shows. It’s better that I work in smaller stints an take a break.

Two Color

These illustrations will be printed letterpress 12″ x 8″ in 2-color, for a limited run. 5 casebound books will have them, and the rest I’ll keep for later.  They’ve ended up being two of my favorites — demonstrating an evolution of all the best parts of the other works.

 

The Characters of Tamaishi: Tama

Tama is a tiny, round pebble. He’s full of hope and optimism, and almost always sees the bright side of things. His curiosity and fear often argue in his head, making him insatiably curious, but it sometimes gets him into trouble.

As the main character in Tama, the entire story centers around his journey across the valley as he learns there is more to himself and others than he thought.

He most certainly has a melancholy side, but all his friends, the grass in the valley always by his side, he never feels truly alone.

The Characters of Tamaishi : The Three

The Three is one of those “they came to me in a dream” stories. I woke up with  a vague memory of long, spiny creatures and I scribbled down the idea:

I simply wrote “the prickle grass”. They were reminiscent of the long, twisted horned grasses the were often on the edge of the beaches up north.

The Three went through a lot of transformation.  I deviated away from the initial sketch, thinking perhaps they would be friendly and helpful. As their conversation with Tama panned out, I realized their intentions are far more self-motivated. It’s lonely out on the edge of the Great Sea, and they wouldn’t want anyone to else to get away.

I went back to the drawing board, looking at more creepy eyes. Other characters have deliberately big, human-like eyes to make them friendly. The Three needed more animal eyes that were more disturbing. I studied the eyes of insects, birds and fish, which look fra more alient and menacing when you look at them closely .

The final results are one of my favorite characters in the book — with their ubiquitous thorns, beady eyes, and enormous size — they tower over Tama. My kids both get creeped out by the final image, and now there are four images that include them.

 

The Characters of Tamaishi : Tayoki

 

Early Storyboard for Tayoki

Tayoki and the Niwaki were an early addition to the story. I suppose the idea of a “wise old tree” trope is fairly hackneyed at this point, but I didn’t mind. I needed something that would make sense existing as ubiquitous as the grass, but older and much larger. It just made sense that on the edge of the valley lay a grand old forest.

The trees are the elders, and though they can’t move from where they stand, they are strong and can talk. So all the creatures of the valley come to them for advice. I pointed out quickly that they listen. I get down to the ground and look my boys in the eyes whenever I can. The trees instead use their branches to lift their visitors up right to where they can see them. That was always the point in time I wanted to illustrate, though I went through various iterations of showing either just Tayoki or other trees as well.

Before I got the suggestion to name the characters, Tayoki was simple the “Great Old Tree”. I had come up with many other names, like Ganshiki (insight + tree), Mitouki, (“unobstructed perspective + tree), Dosatsuki, (wise + tree), — all were a little too hard to pronounce. Oki (big tree) was easier but  this tree was more than just “big”.

The name Tayoki is a mash up of two kanji: “” tayoru (trust), and “木” ki, (tree). The meaning fits well. He is the tree that everyone trusts with their stories.