Started colouring the Tale of a Thousand Savants “Baby Catchers” image. I’m doing this using the kickass (open source) vector graphics program called inkscape, mostly because I like the clean look of vector art and the logical, editable-at-any-time collage-like nature of the workflow. Also, I haven’t loaded in the drivers for my graphics tablet since I switched to XP on the work comp, so doing something like this in the GIMP would be be harder, especially given my horrible bitmap painting skills.
I started out by doing basic colours on the baby. The way I handle these is usually I put down basic outlines, boolean new shapes for specific things like hands and feet that I know will require their own shading later, and then flat-colour them with mid-tones. The colours are usually borrowed directly from my last image (things like skin tones and such) and are temporary — it’s just something to look at while you work. Once I’ve done the whole image in flats to my satisfaction, and I’m happy that the colour range is not all over the place, I go back in and draw and boolean shadow and highlight shapes for characters and objects. After that it’s a matter of adding in things like lighting gradients and object shadows, patterns and texture, adjusting colours etc.
This time I’ve decided to put in simple gradients from the get-go, and the results are not bad. Depending on how the image looks once everything is coloured like this, I may decide not to make the shadows and highlights as solid shapes (as I usually do) and only go with gradients. The results will look much softer. I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.
On the novel front, I chalked out a basic outline of what needs to happen over the next few bits. Right now I get the feeling that it’s a little too scattered, that — in a bullet-point form anyway — there seems to be a lot of running from here to there and sidequests. Of course, all of this may just go out the window once I’m actually writing, and that, believe it or not, is a good thing, i.e. it’s good when your novel tells you how it wants to be written.
Also, I can fix any number of things in second draft, if I ever get there (let’s just worry about finishing the first, okay? I’m already 5 years late!). Meanwhile, colouring continues. I’m wondering if I should go from front to back (Savant being at the front, and therefore first) or rear to front (Kaja being the least defined and in the BG, hence requiring less work). Probably the latter. Like novel-writing, every illustration needs a certain amount of time where you aren’t enjoying it and you keep plugging away at it until you start to hit your stride. Until this happens your work can be sloppy and unfocussed. I’d much rather be bored with a background character than to have to come back later and clean up shoddy work on my main character.
Writing, illustration: it’s all the same, really.