I offered to help a friend of mine (excellent author / artist friend Jay Barry) work through the illustration of one of the scenes in his upcoming zombie novel. I thought it might be a good exercise to write out this process and post it here for review / refinement / feedback.
Step 1 – Collecting the Relevant Information from the Scene
Jay sent me a copy of the text for the scene in question, and the first thing I did was read through it and gather the visual elements in the scene.
- From the text: “There were two advancing on them. One had long blond hair, matted down, over what was once a white sweater. Dave was pretty sure it was his neighbor Laurie to the south. The other wore faded jeans and short-sleeves that had been torn halfway off his torso. Eight, parallel scratches lay down the front of his chest and Dave would bet that his flesh would be under Laurie’s fingernails. He trailed slightly behind her.“
- Also from the text: “When nothing showed to the front, he stood and walked the perimeter walls, looking out on his garden plot, grape vines, and the two-track leading from his garage to US-285.“
- Via text, I conferred win Jay and he let me know that the wall they’re behind is an adobe wall outside Amarillo, TX. and that the boy is ~11 and Grampa is ~50.
That stuck me as enough to get started on the next step, so I started working on…
Step 2 – The Thumbnails
I went through and (very) quickly drew up some thumbnail ideas for the image. At this stage I want to use very little more than stick figures to just get a super rough idea of composition and layout. I slapped in some grey tones just to help our eyes quickly break the scenes into primary elements.
Jay and I will discuss these so we’re on the same page and Jay can pick one out to work from. That will come next!