05 March 2004

Historical Accuracy



I had a multi-illustration assignment from Cricket magazine in January, and then it needed some revisions made to it in March. This was a story about a revolutionary war hero who had to sneak past the enemy lines on horseback to deliver some message of import to Thomas Jefferson. The story called for him to be wearing a British uniform, which I took to mean the standard Redcoat, and I was quite pleased with the color scheme, and the way the Red made the character pop out of the dark background.

Well, a couple months later, the editors got back with me and told me that they had done more research, and in fact the uniform he would have been wearing was a different design. So in the service of historical accuracy I went back and changed the color of the uniform throughout the story. The new color was less than thrilling, the dark blue blending into the background on most of the illustrations.

If I had the time, I probably should have redone the entire layout, changing the hue of the backgrounds to be a bit more 'brownish' in color, to help with the contrast of the new uniform design, but I really didn't have the time to mess around with it that much. So in addition to the versions that appeared in the final printing, I've also included the original version with the red coat (top). This was a little different style than I employed in my usual work, working with colored pencils in a modified sketchy 'cartoon' style, and then overlaying with watercolor washes. I particularly liked how the horse came out, using some nice reference materials from the master of 'horse action', Frederick Remington. The real trick was in trying to capture a 'dark night' in the color scheme without it being totally black and muddy. Not sure I was completely successful, a bit too much purple perhaps (probably should have done even more research into Remington's beautiful 'nighttime' illustrations).

The two vertical illustrations and the long horizontal at the bottom were originally one long illustration that snaked around the sides and bottom of a two page spread. Then the other two larger illustrations came at the beginning and end of the story.


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