We’ve hired Jeff Bent as the artist for Grey Ranks. Jeff is talented and reliable, and we’re thrilled to have him on board. Using a single artist will create a unified feel to the illustrations, which I think is pretty important for this material. It also allows us to build sequential illustrations that tell the story of the Uprising through four distinct kids. We’ve contracted for a full wrap cover and ten interior pieces. Here’s how it works.
1. I give Jeff an idea of what I’d like to see. We go back and forth to clarify, and I provide reference scans and Web links as needed. Here’s an example:
There’s a full-on firefight underway. The focus is Janek, who is dressed in street clothes and firing a home-made submachinegun, a stack of newspapers still bound up at his feet. Flying spent brass. He should look anything BUT heroic – awkward, scared, disoriented, clumsy. Bullets are whizzing by and the only other guy in the frame is spinning, hit by a German round and dying as he falls.
2. Jeff creates a rough pencil sketch. Notice that he took my basic idea and really made it his own, which is exactly what we want. I look it over and give him some feedback. In this case I wanted something to localize the piece and take up some empty wall space, so I sent some scans from the 1939 Warsaw telephone directory.
2. Jeff revises the original sketch slightly. We went back and forth and he did two revisions to this piece.
3. I approve the sketch and he inks it in. At this point there won’t be many changes, but we do discuss details. For this piece we spend a lot of time thinking about how to represent flying bullets.
4. Jeff adds the final ink wash and, via Photoshop, some zinging bullets. The piece is finished. We get a 600 dpi .tiff file and it is more or less ready to go into layout.