The making of The scared old man

It’s Wednesday, and from now on that means I share with you ‘the making of’ or a DIY . This first time, I want to share with you the making of the scared old man. It’s an illustration accompanying a short story about an old, lonely man who never gave anyone any love. One night as he lies in bed, he hears something outside. When the noise gets louder, he gets up, puts on his nightgown and goes outside. As he stands by the waterside, he sees someone crying for help in the cold water. He hesitates, but finally jumps in to save the other man. He hits the water and drowns because his heart is made of stone…

I could make one illustration to go with the story. That means I have to figure out which part is the most interesting. Details are not important, I have to focus on the main storyline. I started with a few sketches. My first idea was to put the old man in bed, scared, as he hears the noise outside. I played a bit with the point of view. I also sketched him outside, and tried him walking out the door. Illustrating is all about just getting started. I’ve learned that it’s no use sitting around, waiting, and only start drawing when the inspiration is there. No. It’s all about putting that (in this case) fineliner on paper and just draw, draw, draw. As you go along, one idea leads to another, and along the way you find out which idea is the best, and only then do you go on with the perfectioning of that idea.

I quickly realised I liked the idea of him lying in bed the best. I started out with a better sketch of that. Then I saw that his face needed to be different, it was too much of a cartoon. He needed to be more serious, older, more scared, but how? I tried a few expressions, played with the lines in his face, until I was satisfied (and believe me, the ones you see here are only a few, there are plenty more sketches of just his face!).

When I was finished with his face, I started sketching different backgrounds. I kept it clean and white, I made it all black, I made it all lightgrey, I faded colors, until I knew which colorscheme (or rather, shades of grey) worked the best. So, after 2, almost 3 hours of non-stop drawing, this is the result!

What do you think, what works best for you? Do you sit around and wait for inspiration to come, or do you get started and just see where the pencil or fineliner will take you? (Or of course any other material you work with.)

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