Creating Emotional Characters With a Silhouette


I remember teachers in my college illustration class talking about how important it is to create a strong silhouette of characters. I didn't totally understand it at the time - I didn't see myself creating characters in the way they were talking about them. I wasn't planning on creating video game characters or writing comic books.

But the more I work in this collage process, the more I understand what they were talking about. And I think it really shows in some of the illustrations for my next folktale book.

The silhouette is important in all of my collage pieces because every illustration begins with silhouettes. I cut the basic shapes out of painted tissue paper and glue them down, so all of the details are created within these colorful masses.

What makes these The Donkey Was a Strange Bird illustrations different from all those other silhouettes I've done before is the emotion I was able to portray with just a paper shape.

I've painted so many birds (I love birds!) that I wonder if their familiarity made me comfortable enough to push the emotion in these silhouettes a bit further than I normally would.

Having a strong silhouette made filling in the details that much more fun. It's like that thing Michelangelo said - "Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it." - except it's a piece of paper instead of stone and...well...a lot of other differences.

These pages ended up being some of my favorites in the book. Just looking at them now makes me smile. :)

 The Donkey Was a Strange Bird is coming soon! You can pre-order the kindle version here, and sign up for my newsletter to be notified when the limited edition copies release at the end of the month.

 

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