Illustrations of Kathryn Ault Noble
Shiny things attract old crows and young raccoons. Winner takes all!
As usual, there is much playing going on here. One raccoon is more realistic, which is my least favorite. I like the funky one climbing the tree, hissing back at his competitor. I also went overboard with the fur strokes, mindlessly adding them while watching Downton Abbey.
What is the extra tree for? I’m glad you asked that! After I finish a color sketch I often add a large area with the same color and texture as some of the components. This creates a place for me to clone from if I need to do repair.
Why do the raccoon’s tails come off the paper, but nothing else? Another great question! Because of the cool light source on the left and warm on the right, I ended up with some rather large brownish shadows on the right side of both raccoons. The tree with raccoon climbing up was taped down so it did not cast too many awkward shadows, but the tail of the raccoon created a large brown shadow which I found distracting.
Just for grins I eliminated all the shadows cast from the cool light using the clone tool in Photoshop. This created the odd effect of the tails coming up off the paper, but the body being part of the paper. Just a bit of fun on my part, but I will play with this idea more. One of Bob Ross’s “happy accidents”. Here are parts of the original that show the tree crudely taped down and the Photoshop clean-up (click to enlarge):
Have I told you recently how much I love Photoshop? I can be a hack and clean up the mess digitally. It certainly takes the stress load off, but I still catch myself holding my breath as I ink something critical. . . old habit. Now when I slip up, even something major, I say out loud, “just fix it in Photoshop”, and I keep painting. I wonder if that has made us all a bit sloppier these days, knowing that one little slip will not ruin an entire piece. Even coffee spilled on a watercolor can be cleaned up, with effort of course.
I remember the story a Creative Director once told me about a designer/ illustrator who was working late into the night and had probably been working straight for days. He had an xacto knife in his hand, like we all did (if not tucked behind the ear like a pencil) when he decided to lay his head down for a minute. Unfortunately the forgotten extra appendage stuck into his neck, releasing a surprising gush of red over all his work. At this point he applied pressure to the wound but was becoming dizzy from lack of blood. Knowing he was the only one in the building he staggered over to the elevator and out into the street. As he stumbled along, covered in blood, a police car happened to drive by and assumed he was the victim of a crime. He was the fine. The art was ruined. No Photoshop.