This post is very long overdue as most posts are... and I will give you a fair warning that it's a long, process heavy one! I will preface this gargantuan novel-post by saying that one of the things I love most about being an artist is that I get to be a kid all the time. If I didn't have to draw them so often I probably would never have even notice that giraffes have little horns on the tops of their heads...so I'm constantly learning too. (Ahherm, female giraffess ALSO have small tufts of hair and now you know as well!)
In the beginning of last year I was approached by two lovely people named Alice and Pete. Of all places to find my art, on Facebook is where it all started! See, it can be good. They had a very interesting project for me that would be both easy and also technically challenging: 1. Create a world for 40 animals (easy) 2. It's an interactive play mat for babies, final size 4 ft. x 4 ft. (wowzers) Just for reference, I'm used to working in inches.
When I start any project, I never like to be hindered by technical challenges...so I did the easy part first, I sketched animals like there was no tomorrow. Here are some of my initial pencil sketches and reference photos I used:
I knew I wanted to have at least one tree and a stream running throughout the scene:
So then I started to fit the animals into the scene like puzzle pieces:
After a trillion versions of these, a few phone calls, and some really great art direction, I began to realize how out of my comfort zone I actually was. We decided it would be best if I broke the mat up into 4 24"x 24" quadrants and fit about 10 animals per quadrant:
...and I started to add a bit of color for depth:
The amount of sketches I went through to get to what's next is somewhat unbelievable, but like anything else, practice makes things easier. I filled at least half a sketchbook with animals, but it was time to get on the computer at this point. Each animal and chosen object would eventually have a label, so I labeled away and spread out. We also split the four quadrants into North Pole, South Pole, Forest, Desert, Tropical, which helped to organize the animals:
Adding a final logo and placeholder buttons (for interactivity):
I have a few different styles I like to work in. Sometimes I prefer black outline, sometimes no outline. I tend to not find as much freelance work with my black line style, but it made me immensely happy that this project allowed me to explore this style in a way that combined a bit of both. I used line, but added texture as well.
When you tap on an animal you hear a sound and the name of the animal in three different languages, depending on which you choose. Here's the play mat in all it's glory (I can't wait to get a sample!):
Some of my favorite close-ups (click each image to enlarge):
And a very sincere plug for a company that is fantastic to work for, Creative Baby! This product will be available in stores for all babies in December 2011!