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.

Grey Ranks Art: The Process
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2 thoughts on “Grey Ranks Art: The Process

  • February 7, 2007 at 5:35 pm

    Heya Jason,

    Can you share the time and monetary expense that went into that process?



  • February 7, 2007 at 5:57 pm

    Hmm, you can ask Jeff about the money portion if you like, and I’ll respect his decision to share or not share our arrangement. I don’t want to put him at a disadvantage in any way. I’ve met artists who are cagey about that stuff and I don’t know how he feels.

    In terms of *my* time, I’d say an hour per piece in short bursts. Jeff’s time is something else entirely. Our contract stipulated deadlines for pieces in three batches and within each batch there’s the pencil, ink, and final steps that Jeff more or less controls himself.

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