Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Wildcats!

I've been the artist, cartoonist, illustrator, or maker of all things art (whichever you want to call it) on the Jake Maddox line of books for Stone Arch for the last three and a half years. There have been stories about sports, disasters, and even a line of books about Nascar racing cars. But, of the almost fifty books I have worked on none of the stories ever overlapped or intracted with each other. We never revisited previous characters or had main characters in one book become a secondary character in another book.

Until now.

The latest four books I just finished up all featured the same basketball team and each book focused on one member of the team. For me, it was a great way to spend four books, drawing the same characters over and over again and getting into each of their stories. I really enjoyed it and hope that it can become a continuing theme in future Jake Maddox stories.

When coming up with the look of the team I was given a general idea of what each kid looked like and ran with it from there. The only problem I have with doing character designs before I've read the actual story is that I get a preconceived notion of what each kid is about without having any real idea. Luckily, I wasn't too far off with my general ideas. I did think one of the kids was the "bad boy" of the group when, in fact, he was just a kid trying to make the first string team. But, the art I did didn't really show that so I was pretty safe when I had to adjust my take on him.

The team uniforms were also changed a number of times during the initial art designs. When I heard the team was called the Wildcats I naturally pictured orange, white, and black as the basic team colors. But, a few go rounds with the art directors and the colors are now powder blue, blue, and white. So, because my original colors will never be seen in the books I thought it might be nice to showcase them here and see what could have been.

Changing colors is never a real problem in the digital age. A few clicks of the mouse and some inventive thinking usually gets the job done. The problem with this image is that I somehow had the brilliant idea to make all of my usual black ink lines colored lines a la the old 2D Disney animated movies. It took a little longer than just doing a regular color job over the black and white line art but I was really happy with the results and it was a successful experiment. The only problem came when I had to change the colors from orange to blue. Not only did I have to change the major colors but I had to go back and change the colored lines as well. Not that it wasn't doable, it just took a little longer than usual.

But, I was still happy with the results and, I hope, when the books see release later this year, you'll be a fan of them as well.


Steve Brezenoff said...

The team looks excellent! Don't tell anyone I told you, but I suspect there'll be a football team pretty soon too.

Sean Tiffany said...

Steve, that would be very cool! I really enjoyed doing a four book series. It just made the books that much more fun. So, I for one, hope there's more!