Our current project in my Illustration II class is to illustrate a page from a random book. The professor had us pull the page from a bag, so we didn’t get to see what we were picking. Coincidentally, the page I pulled was from a series I read as a kid, called The Kane Chronicles. The author is Rick Riordan, the same author who wrote Percy Jackson and the Olympians. I don’t think I ever finished reading the series, but from what I remember it’s about a pair of siblings who find out they are connected to the Ancient Egyptian gods in some way.
The specific page I pulled is from the middle of a fight scene involving the god Sobek, a crocodile-headed god associated with the Nile. I chose to focus on his entrance into the scene because it seemed the most important part of the page to me. Also, I really wanted to draw Sobek’s crocodile head.
I started by figuring out how to draw a crocodile by drawing from reference. I wouldn’t say that I know how to draw a crocodile off the top of my head now, but it helped me figure out what they look like. In the end, I just pasted one of the studies I did into the sketch for the finished piece, because I just could not draw a crocodile head from the perspective I was attempting. Luckily that worked! After the crocodile head studies, I established how I was going to draw Sobek by sketching him out first. I landed on a compromise between the description in the book and Ancient Egyptian depictions. I then thumbnailed to figure out the composition. I sketched it digitally so that I could easily alter the composition and such, and then printed it and traced it onto watercolor paper using green colored pencil and a lightbox.
I decided to go with watercolor for a couple reasons. The first reason is that I’m getting tired of digital. I want to spend less time staring at a screen, which can be a bit demoralizing to me. The second reason is that the professor has been encouraging us to leave our comfort zone medium, so I’m trying to do that. I’m glad I did, because it was a lot of fun.
After finishing the painting, I decided to make a little animation—which is totally useless for the project because it’s a book illustration—but it was fun. I didn’t spend a lot of time on it so it could be much improved upon, which I do not intend on doing! Extra work is only occasionally enjoyable.