Bird's eye view of Mark's farm

I accepted a freelance assignment from  Scott Foresman in Nov.1999. I had several weeks to complete twelve black and white drawings for a beginner reading textbook. It was, I think a “English as a second language” textbook. The above drawing is from the title page. I chose to depict a  bird’s eye view of the farm. I had the freedom to chose “points of view”. This type of an assignment is, for me, more difficult than a full color painting. Models had to be hired so I can take photo reference. Research was required, pictures of farm buildings, animals, autos, etc. The above drawing was constructed by me. I couldn’t afford to hire an airplane to take a photo of a farm. I’m just making the point that many scenes had to be constructed by me.

On Marks Farm title page

The page size for this book was 5 and three eights inches wide by seven and three fourth inches high. This is a fax of  the title page and what drawing was required . That’s all I got from the client,a description “Art Spec”

Fax of page with words

This page layout may have a familiar look to it . For those of a certain age, you may be familiar with reading books that featured Dick, Jane, Puff the cat and Spot the dog.

Scan from Fun Wherever We Are

Illustration of Dick,Jane,Fluff and Spot from “Fun Wherever We Are” Scott,Foresman and Company 1962. The client for this project was also Scott Foresman.

Final drawing for girl thinking of chickens at Mark's Farm

This is one of twelve drawings from Mark’s Farm. The client requested an hispanic family visiting a farm. This is a copy of the final drawing. I don’t have the original drawing to use for this post. Some of the details in the original are missing. I will show the process for creating this drawing below.

Thumbnail for girl thinking of chicks.

This is a “thumbnail” sketch by me . A thumbnail is a small idea sketch to put first ideas down on paper .I used this to help pose a hired child model.

Line drawing of girl thinking of 10 chicks.

I sent this line drawing to the client for approval before putting tone on the drawing.

Notes from client written on fax line drawing

On all my drawings they made the same comment,should look more hispanic. When I put tone on the drawing they looked hispanic. Eyes were dark, hair was dark and skin was of a darker color.

Young girl and brother from Mark's Farm

This is the young girl and her brother  from Mark’s Farm. The time I had to complete this series was about three weeks. Some of that time was needed for the client to respond to the sketches. I began the process reading the art specs,than I created thumbnail sketches. I researched reference on farms ,not on the internet ,this was 1999. I have five, five draw file cabinets with reference images from many sources. Many illustrators my age had a reference file like this. Now everyone has a camera and ,I think,every square foot of the planet has been recorded. Many images can be found on the internet. I use reference as a starting point,to see what objects look like. I prefer to take my own photos or use my extensive file of photos I have taken for reference.After I had collected all my reference I began to draw each illustration. Line drawings were sent to the client for approval ,then the final drawing was sent to the client via overnight shipping. Today I would send a scan of the final art via the internet.

The client originally wanted to pay $175.00 per drawing. I asked for $200.00 per drawing and the client agreed . I also charge the client shipping fees and model fees which were about $100.00. This is my process for creating an illustration. For me it can be a work intensive process. I don’t just set in front of the drawing board in my smock and this stuff flows out of me.









  1. Glenn Myers says:

    Ah, but you know HOW to construct a bird’s eye view and then make an accurate rendering and without the aid of a GPS internet photo. There’s a certain freedom for imagination to fly freely when the ability to reconstruct the idea from scratch without having the actual source to rely upon. Then, when you have all you need to fill in the details anything can happen. And obviously your “thumbnail” is quite a bit removed from client “thumbnails”, right?!

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