Illustration Struggles & More LotR Fan Art


(Jan 08, 2010)


Here’s a behind-the-scenes anecdote about illustration work, though this story is about me kind of messing up, which while actually going through it was kind of horrible, I think I got something from it. Or is that what we tell ourselves to lessen the crazies?

So the thing started out well – I got the cover for this week’s Willamette Week! It’s the second cover for a weekly I’ve done, and the first one locally. I was pretty stoked. The subject matter was a little dry – it was for Propositions 66 and 67 that are on the ballot this month in Oregon. Without getting into the details, the basic gist is that Oregon is in a bit of a money hole and the two propositions want to increase taxes on businesses and the wealthy to get ourselves out of the hole. You can read the article here.

The illustration concept he gave me was pretty simple. A school kid wrestling with a wealthy woman over her purse, with the background sort of split down the middle. Here’s the sketch I sent him.

It was when I started the coloring that things started to go downhill. Coloring always takes longer than I think it will, but I was up until 4:30 working on this thing. Even when I wrapped it up, I wasn’t 100% feeling good about it, but I thought it was better to call it a night and let him get back to me with any changes he wanted made.

Without getting into all the boring details, when he got back to me, all of the changes that needed to be made were based on poor design decisions on my part, which made me feel really unprofessional. Really, he shouldn’t have to correct me on things like the image being too busy, not taking  the logo and other text into consideration that will end up on the image, image cohesiveness, etc. I felt bad because I would send him some solutions, but they wouldn’t really work, so I would have to send him another fix, and then I would try to fix this other problem… blah blah blah.

Here’s  an image with three sort of main stages of the illustration. It might not look like much changing in between them, as they were only small details, but it was enough to make me feel like crap and an idiot.

Funny end to this story: I was obsessing about this all day, only to have the art director call me and tell me that he was struggling with the type placement and had to cover up part of the illustration up to make it work. It meant a lot for me to have him call and to know that I wasn’t the only one that was having problems with it. Anyhow, here’s what the final cover ended up looking like:

The moral of the story? Sometimes things are trickier than they should be and it’ll give you a headache and make you feel like a failure. Get over it.

That being said, here’s another Lord of the Rings illustration for Fan Art January:

Sorry I got a little lazy with the coloring. I’m really trying to stay on top of my other work, so I had to cut some corners.

2 Responses to “Illustration Struggles & More LotR Fan Art”

  1. I kind of loved this post. Nothing like going behind the scenes, and also coming out of it with a nice moral to the story.

  2. Thanks for reading, Susan. Sometimes i wonder if writing things like this are actually entertaining or insightful, or if they’re just indulging my self-obsessed, neurotic side.

    Could be both.

    Oh, and we did get your note, so your friend will get a little sketch and note to go with the calendar. Thanks for the support!

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