Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Sweetest Book (aka: too many calories to count)

To see all my illustration portfolio samples, visit my web site. 

In 1951, the Little Golden Book classic, Pantaloon, was first printed by Simon & Schuster... In 2010 the new version of that children's picture book classic will be released by Random House, the present day owners of all the Golden Book titles. 

I had the very fortunate opportunity to be selected to re-illustrate this new version of the book, and yesterday received an advance copy of the completed book. The reproduction of the art looks terrific. It is such a satisfying feeling to finally have the actual printed book in your hands, after the many months of doing all the preliminary sketches and the numerous finished illustrations! All these illustrations were finished in the late winter of 2009... and the book will be released nationwide sometime in the spring of 2010... 

The story is about an energetic poodle who is determined to become the Baker's new assistant, and will stop at nothing to to so... People who have seen the illustrations already, have all commented on how delicious and tempting all the pies, cakes, breads, cookies and pastries seen throughout look. Out of curiosity, I just did a quick count of how many tasty items I actually illustrated... counting everything seen on the cover, endpapers, inside illustrations, etc... I think there are about 490 food items! After reading this book, one will definitely head straight for the nearest bakery to pick up a chocolate eclair (or three). How many pounds did I gain while working on the visual research for the book you ask? I'm not telling... but let's just say that I hope my next children's book project is about a kid who spends a lot of time in the gym. 

All the illustrations were painted with Winsor & Newton gouaches on Arches hot press watercolor papers...then scanned into Photoshop, where I did some additional digital enhancements, especially with much of the "pastry" work.

Posted here is the half-title page art (box of pastries), and an illustration from one the the opening pages where Pantaloon and the Baker first meet...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

...Socks Are SO Sexy! (aka: the GoldToe ad project)

To see all my illustration portfolio samples, visit my web site. 

A while ago I created a series of prints ads for the international sock company, GoldToe. The new campaign, was conceived and motivated by their VP and Creative Director, Charles Moretz... as a push to direct a younger consumer toward their quality line of footwear products. (...kind of a "it's not your dad's Oldsmobile anymore" campaign) A renewal process which all large established companies must go through at some point or another to capture a younger generation who may not be as fully aware of the brand as could be. Charles defined the simple tactic: to use illustration for the new ad campaign "For All Walks of Life," to stand out from the competition and in contrast to the sea of photography omnipresent with everything fashion. 

It was a wonderful experience to be in the series of meetings with Charles, to learn about the company, where they are heading, etc... and together direct my imaging, relative to their target audience, to be memorable print ads. There was also talk of possibly using my illustrations for their in-store wall graphics, signs, displays, kiosks, etc... to extend the impact of the ad campaign to the maximum in terms of capturing the attention of the younger audience. (see posted mock-photo of my images used in a store/boutique setting) 

Posted here are three of the ads from the series... the man and woman are kind of visual companions, to give a bit of a romantic story or spin the the ads... Just their legs and feet are seen in the third ad with all the walkers. I also created the hand-lettering for the ad title, “For All Walks of Life.” The ad copy text is positioned in the white space at the bottom. These posted images are too small for you to see, but in the female scene, she has financial data on her hand held device, and in the male scene, there are flowers on his hand held device (the same flowers as in the female scene) to suggest that the two are connected. Also posted at the bottom are a few samples of preliminary "test textures" I created, representing different characteristics of product categories, which may be incorporated into their "in-store" graphics look.

There has been a delay in the release of theses ads nationwide, obviously due to the economy. GoldToe is evaluating when the correct timing to do so will be best, but hopefully it will not be a long delay. So, in the meanwhile, if you are looking for terrific socks, think "gold toe."

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Travel on Sale?

See all my portfolio samples on my web site. 

Every couple months I create a handful of spot illustrations for Westways group of magazines, all centered on topics related to your car, car travel, etc... (including flying to other places and then renting a car), Eric Van Eyke, art director.

The illustration posted here was for an article on travel discounts, both by air and sea, to popular tourist destinations... so I came up with a price tag concept, with an eddy and jet stream of a ship and a plane making the "S" in SALE, and icons of the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, and the Great Wall of China forming the A, L and E. They were created simply, with black gouache and brush on textured paper, scanned, and the color added in Photoshop. (The "tag," string, and shadow were all done in Photoshop as well.) I like this piece because it is so simple, but still has some rich detail to make it interesting.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

More Recession Drawings... (unfortunately)

To see all my illustration portfolio samples, visit my web site. 

The Dow is up, but jobs are still way down.... it seems the all mighty dollar is a more elusive creature than ever before, certainly than compared to the 1990's when the dollar was practically leaping into one's pockets! 

Posted here are a few more of my "recession drawings" which are quick sketchbook brush drawings done directly onto paper without any pre planning... like glorified doodles, which I then scan into Photoshop and add simple, broad color. (see previous recession drawing posting)
What goes down must come up again... right? Looking for signs every day of the "recovery" seems like the old adage, “...a watched pot never boils.” In this case, the water may even still be cooling off, forget about it boiling!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Another web commercial project with Voicewalk in LA

To see all my illustration portfolio samples, visit my web site. 

Last year I worked with the web animation production studio in Los Angeles named Voicewalk, on a web commercial for client InSight Direct's launch of their new product: VaZing. (see previous post on this project) 

These past few weeks I teamed up with Voicewalk again on another animatic web commercial, this time for client PureSafety. Working with Voicewalk's team of creative director Saul Ives, writer Monica Bowers and animation director Martin Guitar. We moved through the storyboard stages quickly, in part due to now all having worked together before it allowed me to execute a bit more efficiently by having a better understanding how Voicewalk will manipulate my images in the animation process. 

With my "regular" work for print illustration: magazines, advertising, children's books... I usually work with inks, paints etc... and (most of the time) then scan it all into Adobe Photoshop wherein I add digital effects in layers to come up with the final image result. But with these web commercial projects, it requires that I create all the final images as digital vector images, so I create them entirely in Adobe Illustrator. 

My process is this: I take the final storyboard sketch of a scene (in an Adobe Photoshop jpeg format) and open it in Adobe Illustrator, making it a bottom layer named "sketch." Then I stack new layers on top of the locked sketch layer and begin drawing the final image directly on my Wacom 12 x 12 digital drawing tablet. Usually the layers are set up knowing ahead what elements within the image scene that are to be animated, and therefore need to be on a separate layer. The final image is closely based on the sketch layer underneath... and is executed very simply, using various brush tools, shape fills, shape merges, and the only effect I use are gradations between two or three colors. 

Posted above are a few examples of some of the very rough thumbnail storyboards, revised storyboards, and their corresponding final vector images. You can view the final animated web commercial by clicking here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Ring Flash Cards... Mudpuppy project completed!

To see all my illustration portfolio samples, visit my web site. 

My recent project with the on-line gift store for young kids, Mudpuppy.com was completed recently and all went smoothly working with art director Cynthia Matthews. It consisted of 26 images for flash cards divided between colors and shapes (called "ring" flash cards because they are all held together by a ring). The child must identify the specific color or specific shape depicted in the image. Posted here are four of the final cards: TRIANGLE (mountain), PINK (pig), BLUE (elephant), OCTAGON (spider web) 

The images were all done with black gouache and brush, scanned into Photoshop, then all the color was applied digitally with various brush and erase tools. It's refreshing to do simple images like this, though they take far more time than what it may look! (See the post below showing some of the sketches from this same project.)

Q: What color is this recession?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

...another Mudpuppy project... Color Flash Cards for kids

To see all my illustration portfolio samples, visit stevensalerno.com 

Last year I worked with art director Cynthia Matthews at the company Galison (the parent company of mudpuppy.com, the terrific online store for books, games, toys, etc for young kids) on a project called FIRST PUZZLES... a series of three simple puzzles I illustrated that come in one box with a handle. (click here to see earlier post) 

Recently Cynthia hired me for a new project, to illustrate 26 Flash Cards... identifying colors and shapes for young kids.

Just today Cynthia approved most of the sketches... just a few need a bit of adjusting before I can proceed to starting the final artwork. Posted above are just a couple of the approved sketches, PINK (pig) and the GREY (mouse). The text for the cards will either ask what shape? or what color? eg: "What color is this mouse?" ... on the back of each card is the answer.

These images are just scans of pencil line sketches, that were then darkened in Photoshop to approximate the black look of ink line. Next, simple washes of color were indicated using digital color. The final art will be created in gouache paintings which will be scanned and then additional embellishments finalized in Photoshop.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Recession Blues? Forget About It! ...throw a party anyway... just buy cheaper cheese

To see all my illustration portfolio samples, visit my web site. 

Posted here is a drawing I did some time ago, and I cannot remember which client I originally created it for! (I posted it in two segments, enabling it to be seen larger) The line work was done with black gouache using a brush, on top of a background of various big swashes of color, probably with watercolor... 

I think it was for a travel magazine editorial assignment, obviously on the topic of upscale cocktail parties in the city. Throughout my career I have always enjoyed doing scenes with a lot of characters... but from a practical business standpoint, creating a scene with so many different characters takes far more time to execute than an image depicting just a couple main characters. So, if a higher fee at the start of the project assignment cannot be negotiated, it ends up being a labor of love... because the fee usually will not match the number of hours it will take to complete such a dense image. 

Whenever I draw characters, I never use any reference what so ever, unless of course I am doing a caricature of a real person, then I will refer to a photo. When creating faces, I simply draw from my imagination... and living in a city of 9 million people helps. Because after years and years of seeing so many different types of interesting faces on a daily basis I think a kind of "facial type" memory skill is developed! -in this image, I especially like the little guy with the pencil moustache (in the bottom panel) directly under the waiter's arm. He looks like a young James Lipton!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Character sketches from my recent book...

To see all my illustration portfolio samples, visit my web site. 

In February of this year, my latest author/illustrator picture book for kids was released by Harcourt, entitled “Harry Hungry!” (click here to see previous post)

Above are two preliminary character sketches from very early in the process when I was first exploring how the main character should look... the gastronomically terrorizing tot named Harry. As you can see comparing these initial sketches with the final images from the book, Harry's final look ultimately was not as distorted. But there is a wonderful raw quality of these early sketches, so I thought I'd show them. I think doing a next book project wherein the final images are more in keeping with the roughness of these sketches would be a great look. 

The sketches were created with brush and gouache on white bond paper.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

BLACK is back! (US Open returns to Bethpage)

Visit my golf art web site, sasgolf.com to purchase signed, limited edition prints.
BLACK is back! On June 18th, the US Open Championship is back at the Black Course at Bethpage... (in Farmingdale, New York on Long Island) The best professional golfers are back to challenge one of the toughest golf courses on the planet! (The US Open was played there back in 2002, won by Tiger Woods, who was the only player to finish under par. And this year's course is playing to an even longer yardage!)
I love the game of golf. And when I am not busy with my regular illustration career schedule, I find the time to also create golf related images for myself...
Seen above (top image) is a poster I designed, using a full-color digital painting I created of the Bethpage Black Course's 14th hole, a short par 3, seen on a late summer afternoon when the shadows were getting long. (and below it is a detail view of the painting)
For reference I used a photo I'd taken on a day I played the Bethpage Black Course last year. (I had managed to snag a tee time ONCE on the Black Course last summer... Yes, it's a public course! It's nearly impossible to get a tee time on the Black Course, so usually I end up playing the Red Course or the Blue Course.)
Then I simply painted my image in Adobe Photoshop, on multiple layers, using my custom color palette of cmyk colors, just a few different paintbrush tools and erase tools and working with my digital "pen" on a 12" x 12" Wacom tablet. It's a terrific way to "paint" because I can try multiple color and texture variations so quickly. And when I make a mark or stroke, and don't quite get it just the way I intended it on the first try, I can simply delete the mark or stroke and try executing it again...
The poster shown next (entitled "The Black Course") is another I designed using a very graphic drawing I had created in strong blues and blacks only, of the Black Course's par three 17th hole. It was drawn in Adobe Illustrator directly on my digital Wacom tablet using just a few different "brush" tools and color fills... It's difficult to see in these small screen samples, but the trees in the background are very boldly done in a calligraphic manner. One must see the full 24" x 36" sized poster to appreciate the simple and bold nature of the image.
Click here to see an earlier posting on several other US Open posters I created for the upcoming event next month at Bethpage... as a self-motivated project.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Downtown Manhattan Map...

To see all my illustration portfolio samples, visit stevensalerno.com
Doing map assignments are certainly fun, but a lot of work too, because the map usually must also include many little icons as a client requirement. Posted here is a recent map image I created for art director Carolyn McClain at Crain's New York Business Weekly -focussing on the downtown financial area of Manhattan. (New York City)
The image was done by painting a background shape (in gouache on watercolor paper) of the island area and the water... and also a simple black line-drawing of the Statue of Liberty, and scanning everything into Photoshop... where I then, in separate layers, created all the icon elements using simple Photoshop tools: people, buildings, food, boats, bridges, birds, textures, etc... Since everything was in layers, I could then easily adjust and fine tune the location of all the elements by moving them around.
Posted above is the full map image, as well as a detail view of a section, so you can better see the detail and textures. As usual, the project was under the time gun... but it came out very well.
An advertising agency in Dallas saw the image, and it almost obtained me an annual report project for one of their clients... but unfortunately I did not get that project. Oh well... you win some and you lose some!
Remember, all you illustrators out there, to negotiate a sufficiently higher fee when offered a map project, because all the related little icons you'll be doing are going to take more time!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Susan Boyle.... (what a caricature!)

To see all my illustration portfolio samples, visit stevensalerno.com
As you can see by visiting my web site, there are not any samples of celebrity caricatures... but I do indeed create caricatures, I just don't choose to promote them on my site. Over the years, for various magazines, I have done caricatures of famous people: Ronald Reagan, George Bush #'s 1 & 2, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Bette Midler, Mr. Rogers, Oprah Winfrey, Steven Speilberg, Bill Gates, Pamela Anderson, Julia Childs, and others...
Recently, like 100 million others, I have seen the images of singer Susan Boyle ,the competitor on the TV show "Britain's Got Talent" and just could not resist creating a caricature of her... What a face! From her distinctive hair style, prominent eyebrows, double chin, etc... it was a breeze to accentuate her features. (in case you are wondering what the #1432 is doing in the drawing... that is the competitor tag # she was wearing during the talent competition.)
Posted here is my relatively quick drawing of Susan Boyle I created in Adobe Illustrator on my Wacom digital tablet, and then opened in Adobe Photoshop to add a layer of simple color wash.
Click here to view a previous post on doing caricatures...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

19 Girls and Me (x 4)

To see all my illustration portfolio samples, visit stevensalerno.com
A few years ago I illustrated a picture book project for publisher Penguin... actually for their children's book imprint Philomel Books, entitled “19 Girls and Me” written by Darcy Pattison (released in 2006).
The story is about a young boy (John Hercules Po), his 19 female kindergarten classmates... and how they all become friends through their imaginative recess adventures around the world to places like Mt. Everest, The Great Wall of China and the Amazon River.
In these past few years this wonderful book has also been translated into German, Chinese and Arabic (the various cover images are posted above) allowing children from these other countries to share in Po's adventures, too. The Chinese edition even has the entire story repeated in English (with all the illustrations scaled down) in the back of the book, also including a musical CD. (I listened to the CD, and it appears to be Chinese children singing the story as if it were a Broadway musical -so charming!)
The Arabic edition, of course, reads from back to front... so all the images were flopped. (I never allow my images to be flopped, because visually they never seem quite the same... but in this case, it was a cultural necessity for this version.)
In “19 Girls and Me” all the illustrations depicting the children in the classroom, or when they are first stepping out into the schoolyard, are in black&white, except for the girls red dresses and Po's blue blazer. Then in all the scenes where the children are on their fantasy recess adventures everything is rendered in full color.... sort of like the same visual tactic used in the movie The Wizard of Oz ... a film in black&white, which then becomes full color when the main character Dorothy literally falls into the Land of Oz.
The interesting "behind the scenes" story regarding the illustrations for this picture book, is that I actually created all of the final images in full color. But when I showed the final illustrations to my Philomel Books editor Michael Green and art director Cecilia Yung they correctly assessed that the classroom and playground scenes, in terms of color, were too hot and bright to the point of distraction... so I came up with the solution to convert those specific images into black&white (ah, the magic of Photoshop!) but made them more stimulating by keeping the girls dresses red and Po's blazer blue. The end result looks as if it was my original intention to have the various “school” scenes in black&white and only the “fantasy” scenes rendered in full color.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

My 2009 US Open Posters, Bethpage BLACK Course

Visit my golf art web site, sasgolf.com to purchase signed, limited edition prints. 

When not busy with my illustration career work load (creating graphic images for magazines, advertising campaigns, newspapers, product packaging, books, children's books, etc...) which is usually all of the time, I also find the time to create personal works just for myself... many are images on the game of golf. 

As you can see by my golf prints shown here (©2009 Steven Anthony Salerno), these images are not created in the same whimsical style seen in my usual commercial illustration work that art directors recognize and depend on... (to see all my illustration portfolio samples, visit stevensalerno.com) ... but rather in a more realistic, graphic poster style: 

I start with many b&w pencil sketches on paper, then edit them down to one final composition, followed by executing a tighter, final sketch. During these sketch stages I simultaneously develop the poster's type design as well, integrating it in tandem with the image composition. Next I redraw the image on my digital Wacom drawing tablet using Adobe Illustrator software, building the image slowly in layers, and making all the color decisions as I go along, and determining the type font and placement. 

With my regularly commissioned illustration assignments, I am always working as quickly as possible because of the short deadlines. (and also because I normally have several assignments going on at once!) However, with these golf images, since I am creating them just for myself without a deadline, I take my time and do not complete the poster image until I am entirely satisfied with it. 

In June of this year, the 109th playing of the United States Golf Association Open Championship will be conducted at the notoriously difficult Bethpage Black Course in Farmingdale, New York. (The US Open was last played there back in 2002, which Tiger Woods won.) 

The official 2009 US Open poster the USGA had already commissioned for the upcoming event in June, I felt, missed the mark in terms of reflecting the bold character and psychology of the Black Course at Bethpage. Their official poster is well executed, but fits into a "charming" visual category, sort of like a nostalgic, quaint, Currier & Ives print... In my opinion, despite the fact that the course was designed back in the '30's, there is nothing remotely quaint about the psychology of the Black Course. It is a brute of a golf course that makes even the best of players in the world crumble, and thus deserves a matching bold poster! 

So, just for the fun of it, back in January, I decided to make my own poster for the tournament, and I ended up creating seven different posters (only five of the seven are shown here). I also feel that the majority of “Tiger Woods/Anthony Kim generation” fans, who will be looking to purchase a memento of the event from the merchandising tent during the week of the US Open at Bethpage, will more likely prefer to buy a contemporary poster which reflects the imposing boldness of the Black Course, and not a quiet, quaint poster image. 

The top poster: depicts a competitor hitting his tee shot at the downhill par three eighth hole with the gallery watching. (beneath is a detail view of player) 

The 2nd poster: depicts a ground-level view of a typical A.W. Tillinghast bunkering complex at the Black Course, which the players will try to avoid during the US Open. Tillinghast is the famed golf architect who designed the course in the 1930's. (beneath is a detail view of bunker) 

The 3rd poster: is a bold, stylized image of a golf ball, with the course seen low in the background, and in front is the famous "warning sign" declaring how difficult the Black Course is to play, which really does exist on the first tee there. (beneath is detail view of course in the background) 

The 4th poster: is a wide format panorama poster showing the second shot at the part five, fourth hole. This is my favorite image. It is bold, elegant and the type design is "in your face" just like the real course is. In the small screen shot posted here, one cannot see the quality of this image. (beneath is detail view of player) 

The 5th poster: is a theatrical, label-like symmetrical view of a silhouetted player hitting a shot to a distant green. (beneath is detail view of player silhouette) 

The real impact of all these poster images cannot be fully appreciated unless one sees them in their full 17" x 22" and 24"x 36" size. Seeing them in these small screen samples just does not do them justice. 

The 6th poster is one I recently created for the 64th Women's USGA Open Championship, which is being held at the Saucon Valley (Old Course) in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in July 2009. 

After completing these posters, on a whim, in February 2009 I contacted and presented a few of the US Open/Bethpage posters to the Executive Director of the USGA, David B. Fay, as well as to the USGA Director of Licensing, Mary Lopuszynski. I briefly expressed that one of my posters could be added to their list of merchandising items for the Bethpage US Open event as an "unofficial" poster... to give the golf fans a choice in poster selection at the merchandising tent. (Personally, I feel my poster would out sell any other poster) Mary Lopuszynski did reply, stating that the USGA had already selected and produced all their merchandising items for the 2009 US Open event. In other words, I was too late. Oh well. No harm done... and it was a nice way to introduce myself to the USGA. 

Subsequently I contacted Tim Carr, the current art director of LINKS magazine. Tim and I met when he was the art director at GOLF magazine and we played a round together at the Split Rock golf course in New York. I showed him a few of these 2009 US Open/Bethpage posters I created, and since his magazine will be creating a feature article about the upcoming 2009 US Open at Bethpage, he is contemplating commissioning one or more of my poster images for that magazine issue. (He would use versions of the image(s) without the text) 

So, now I am already working on my 2010 version of the US Open poster (being held at the Pebble Beach golf links on the Monterey Peninsula, in California) just for the fun of it, of course, but maybe it will also find it's way over to the USGA! 

(You can see a previous posting of some other personal golf art images by clicking here.)