Dinosaur Construction Kit: T.Rex – Illustration Process

Around 12 months ago I was contacted by the lovely people at Egmont to see if I’d be interested in illustrating a dinosaur book they were developing – illustrating dinosaurs, er, yes please!

As the book is now out (released last month), I thought it would be a good time to share a little on the process of creating the artwork for the book.

The Cover:

After receiving the script for the book, the first thing I was asked to work on was the design/look and feel for the cover. After researching what would be our competition on the book shelves, I had a clear idea in my head of what I thought might create a strong brand for the book series (this is where my background as a graphic designer comes in handy).

Rather than working on numerous ideas, I thought it would be more efficient to run this initial idea by the art director first – luckily they loved it.

Below is the initial sketch and the finished cover (if you look closely at the finished cover, you can see a sneak peek of the cover for book two too).

T-rex-cover-sketch

TRex_Cover

Spread Roughs

The next step was to take the script (and notes from my Art Director) and draw up some quick rough sketches for the 9 spreads.

T-Rex-process-1

Based on feedback, these were then amended and drawn up a little tighter.

T-Rex-process-2

Once approved, I added some quick Photoshop colour behind my sketches for final approval, then we were ready to jump in to the final artwork.

T-Rex-process-3

Final Artwork

Here are the first three finished spreads from the book – you can see that even once the roughs have been signed off, slight tweaks like the sky colour and other elements of the layout still sometimes need to change as the book evolves.

Sometimes major changes may be needed and if you have a great Art Director (which I did on this book in Faith Booker from Egmont), you have to trust that they know what they’re talking about. Every suggestion that Faith made, resulted in stronger spreads and eventually a stronger book.

Trex-PAGE-2-3

Trex-PAGE-4-5

Trex-PAGE-6-7

T-Rex Model

Paper engineers blow my mind. I’m so in awe of what they do and the model that comes with this book was no exception.

Following the cover, the model was the next phase of this project and illustrating a flat surface that will be folded to create a 3D object is always a tricky thing, requiring such a different mind-set (because you aren’t creating the edges of your artwork and every edge needs to include bleed – which can look a little weird when you’re working on it). Luckily, having already designed the look of our T-Rex on the cover, the process of Illustrating all of the parts of the model ran more smoothly.

As challenging as this part is, it’s equally rewarding to see the final model dressed in your illustrations – my kids loved this part too as they got to play with models prior to publication.

jonathan-woodward-studio-T-Rex-HEAD-&-BACK

Couldn’t resist sharing this photo – my little boy Samson (age 2), particularly got in to the spirit of things when posing with his model 🙂

mali-samson-roar

This book is part of a series and I’m happy to say that book 2, with the mighty Triceratops as its star, has already been Illustrated and is with the publisher preparing to bulldoze its way on to the bookshelves sometime next year.

Here’s a sneak peak at the star of the show…

jonathan-woodward-studio-triceratops-cover

It was such a joy to work on these books with Egmont from start to finish and enabled me to tick a box on my illustration wish list. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of Illustrating dinosaurs!

I’m also thrilled to say that our T-Rex book made it in to the shortlist for the Junior Design Awards ‘Innovative Children’s Book Of The Year’ too!

NYC Aquarium ‘Ocean Wonders: Sharks’ Exhibit

I’m very excited to be able to finally announce that I’m currently working with the lovely people at the Wildlife Conservation Society in the US to produce 60+ Illustrations for the ‘Ocean Wonders: Sharks’ exhibit that will be housed in the new $157 million re-build and transformation of the NYC Aquarium.

As a shark freak, this is a dream project and by far the highest profile and hugest job I’ve ever worked on (literally, with Illustrations ranging from 5cm to a whopping 4 metres!)

I’m nearly half way through the final artwork, but won’t be able to share anything until the Aquarium is re-opened in 2016. However, I have been given permission to share a sneak peek of one of the shark Illustrations from a huge shipwreck scene…

blue-shark

I feel very fortunate to be working on such a fun and very worthwhile conservation project, helping to educate future generations about these amazing creatures.

Here’s an animated walk through of how the exhibit will look when finished – it looks amazing!

The June 2014 Desktop Wallpaper

Download the June 2014 Desktop

TTWN-June-2014-wallpaper-blog

To download your copy of the June desktop, please right click on the version you’d like and select “Save As…”:

The Print

I’ve also released a print based on the June desktop Illustration called ‘Lunch!’.

To purchase a copy of the print (framed or unframed) from my Society6 print shop, please click on the image below for sizes and prices.

Jonathan-Woodward-Studio-bronze-whaler-sharks-print

 

 

The May 2014 Desktop Wallpaper

Download the May 2014 Desktop

TTWN-May-2014-wallpaper-blog

To download your copy of the May desktop, please right click on the version you’d like and select “Save As…”:

The Print

I’ve also released a print based on the May desktop Illustration called ‘Peace & Quiet’.

To purchase a copy of the print (framed or unframed) from my Society6 print shop, please click on the image below for sizes and prices.

may-print

 

3 Things You MUST Do When You Finish An Illustration Project

#1 Ask For Feedback

Why Do This?

…Because it’s a great way to continually improve the way you work with clients.

…Because feedback and testimonials from real clients are a great marketing tool.

#2 Keep Your Financial Records Up To Date

Why Do This?

…Because it helps you see whether you’re on track to achieve your financial goals.

…Because it eases the admin stress come tax return time, and instead makes it a breeze to do.

#3 Update Your Portfolio

Why Do This?

…Because your illustration portfolio should reflect your latest & greatest work.

…Because every completed project and satisfied client is a great marketing opportunity, and adds to the potential for more work 😉

And Finally…

To help improve your paperwork, we put together this template for you to begin to create your own (online) Client & Job Database….

5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Start Any Illustration Project

#1 Have You Confirmed the Full Scope of the Project?

Why Do This?

…because unless you do, you could be setting yourself up for a whole world of hassle later down the line.

…because until you do, you can’t provide a quote accurately or assess whether a proposed fee is worth it.

Will Terry gives this advice about managing scope creep…

“Newer and smaller businesses often do not have a good understanding of how business should be conducted. Creating a good working relationship is even more important when working with these clients because you will often have to take them by the hand to educate them.

For instance, one of the biggest problems you will encounter is “scope creep”.

Scope creep happens after you have signed a contract or agreed what the scope of the project is going to be and then you are asked to create more work.

Example: Your client wants you to illustrate a dog, cat, and mouse having dinner together. You agree on all of the specs, price, and deadline.

After you send in sketches your client informs you that he/she would also like you to include a donkey at the dinner party.

Since there was no possibility of satisfying the sketch on the first pass it is unfair to ask for this extra work without offering an additional amount of money.

If you’re a good designer you know you can’t just “add” an donkey into the sketch without redesigning the entire composition. If I were doing the painting for $1000 I might ask for an additional $50-$100 for the extra work.

The most important thing in handling these situations is to be informative in a kind way.

A careful explanation of your position should help most clients understand their error in expecting something for nothing.

You might even offer to do it for free this time so you can help preserve the relationship knowing that if it happens again you will hold them to paying an additional fee.”

#2 What Are the Copyright & Usage Terms?

Why Do This?

…because all parties need to be clear on who owns the rights and how long they own them for; these terms then form part of the fee.

Brett Ryder shared this advice…

“Some editorial companies will try for perpetuity, which in my opinion is completely outrageous! The acceptable term is one-time use within the magazine/newspaper, and 3 months use on their website and within the article it was commissioned for (there is some movement on this, but it’s pretty standard).

Sometimes – mainly in packaging or adverting – perpetuity is unavoidable and you will need to make the decision as to whether you are happy with this, and that the fee reflects the buyout of the image.”

Here’s a checklist of key aspects that need to be agreed upon:

Usage Rights Checklist

#3 Have You Confirmed the Financial Terms of the Project?

Why Do This?

…so you can be paid what you’re worth!

…so you know what you’ll be paid, and when you’ll be paid it.

Here’s a great article on how to calculate your fees, which includes the following advice on how to set your hourly rate:

How to calculate your hourly rate

[Annual salary + Annual expenses + Annual profit] ÷ Annual billable work hours = your basic hourly rate

Annual salary: What would you like to make a year? Consider this as a business expense (paid out to you as your own boss).

Annual expenses: Includes purchases and overheads for your business.

Annual profit: This is the profit charged over and above your expenses. Our friend Ilise Benun suggests 10-20% of your salary as the norm.

Annual billable hours: 365 days minus vacation, sick time, weekends off, and time you spend doing administrative stuff, and multiply by the number of hours you work a day, approximately.

Basic hourly rate: This is a guide, not a rule. You may choose to share this with a client as your hourly rate, or you may just build it in when you give a project fee.

When you’re calculating your fee, remember to consider the following:

  • Your hourly rate – calculate the number of hours each stage of the project will take (sketch, back & forth, final artwork etc.), to calculate a total. You do NOT have to communicate your hourly rate to a client, nor your time estimates either – but it does enable you to calculate a fee rather than guesstimate it using gut feel 😉
  • Client management time – remember that your fee should include the time you work on a project which includes back & forth with the client (by email or phone), as well as any research or other time spent on that particular project.
  • Expenses – equipment and any resources required to complete the project should be included in your fees.

And finally, be sure to confirm the payment details & schedule which means clarifying what and when you can actually expect to receive the monies from the client.

The following are often up for negotiation:

  • An initial deposit, paid upfront – many people will tell you not to expect or ask for this, but it can be used as a point of negotiation if a client has a tight deadline and/or can’t pay the full amount you quoted/asked for.
  • A kill fee – so you’ll be paid for any work you’ve done, even if the client cancels a project.
  • The final payment – always submit your invoice ASAP upon completing a project and put a note in your diary/calendar (or use followupthen) to remind you to chase up the payment if it hasn’t come in on the day it is due. Even better than this is to send a pre-emptive reminder a few days before the payment is due asking for confirmation it will be included in their next payment run.

#4 How Will Changes & Extra Requests Be Managed?

Why Do This?

…because things change. Always.

…because when they do, you’ll already have agreed the process to manage these changes.

For advice on what to do when things change AND you still want to be paid, watch this (it’s for designers BUT highly relevant). WARNING: NSFW…

#5 Have You Got Everything in Writing?

Why Do This?

…Because unless you do, you won’t have a leg to stand on should anything go wrong.

…Because it doesn’t need to be a scary, legalese document – it can simply be proof of everything that’s been agreed in writing (and emails still count).

Chris Oatley gives this excellent advice…

If a potential client is resistant to the idea of beginning with a contract, run away! Contracts exist to protect everyone in the professional relationship.

The biggest problem, however, is that most artists don’t work with a contract of any kind. They never even have the contract conversation.

It’s easy to villainize clients, but I rarely hear of an artist actually doing their due diligence and ensuring that a contract is arranged at the beginning of a job.

So all that’s to say, always work with a contract and on the rare occasion that a potential client is resistant, don’t work with them.

This is a brilliant tool to create a simple contract that covers all the important bases. Plus read about the red flags in licensing, if art licensing is your game.

And one final but brilliant tip that comes from this excellent article, is this:

Be clear that the written agreement is the final agreement…

“This is the parties’ entire agreement on this matter, superseding all previous negotiations or agreements.”