Here's the finished "The Month Ahead" illustration I did for the cover of the National Post's Arts & Life section published March 1. March is an exciting time for birdwatchers in Canada -- Flocks of migratory birds return from their summer vacations, including the ducks featured in my illustration!
From top to bottom we have: A mallard with its arse in the air (taken from photo reference I obtained while tagging along with my parents on one of their birding expeditions), a green-winged teal, a hooded merganser, a ruddy duck, another mallard (right-side up), a horned grebe, and a wood duck. Wood ducks are the beauty queen of the common Canadian ducks. Absolutely gorgeous. King eiders are pretty too, but not quite so common in these parts.
This duck's arse pic was taken with my lousy iPhone 3GS camera and then filtered through Instagram. I love how Instagram really makes up for the crap-factor of my iPhone camera and gives me something decent to look at.
My dad's birthday was last Saturday, so I made him a card that has pretty much the same ducks on it. I figured I already had gotten some good practice drawing those ones, why not?
It's a family tradition for the Minamata clan to conclude an afternoon of birding with a hot beverage and a tasty treat. To give the illustration an added Canadian touch I included a certain donut-and-coffee franchise's famous annual contest that involves unfurling the tops of paper cups in hopes of winning prizes (technically this contest started in February but it's a common sight for the next few months).
And here's how the illustration appeared in the paper. You can be sure I scampered all around town and picked up as many issues as I could find!
The leftmost pic is the initial sketch. You can see that while the basic idea is there, I did a LOT of redrawing on this one! Although unlike the first "The Month Ahead" illustration I did, where I had an intermediate step of a super-tight pencil sketch, I did all of the redrawing on my Wacom tablet (middle pic). This was the base for the inked version, which was done with a brush and india ink.
Because the illustration was published so big I worked larger than usual. The inked version (rightmost pic) was spread out over three 8.5x11" pieces of paper and composited together with the magic of Photoshop. I scanned it in at 600dpi and the file was half a gig. Eek.
Finally, here are the other sketches I submitted. This one focuses on a March event called Canadian Catwalk, which showcases the 2012 Fall collections of Canadian fashion designers. The idea was to have the models stomping the wetlands boardwalk/catwalk wearing designs inspired by the plumage of the migratory ducks.
The end of February and beginning of March is traditionally when sugarbushes in Canada start producing sap to make into our famous maple syrup. This sketch celebrates that tradition and has crocuses (the first flowers of Spring) pushing up though the snow.
This sketch is another one that celebrates the maple syrup harvest, except this one is all about maple taffy. Do you remember maple taffy? It's when hot maple syrup is poured onto fresh snow and forms a delicious sticky treat. In the background I put a shamrock shape (because St. Patrick's Day is coming 'round!) as well as the crocuses and the snow. I think Spring is a pretty big deal for Canadians because we know the worst of the winter is over!