Wednesday, January 8, 2014

"Dozer" Character Design

I recently finished illustrating "Dozer's Run," a picture book to be published by Sleeping Bear Press (written by Debbie Levy and Rosana Panza). It is scheduled to be in May 2014. I guarantee that I will post more about this project as we get closer to the release date!

For now, here's a post about the character design and development of Dozer, the title character in this true story of a labradoodle who spontaneously took part in a fund-raiser half-marathon.

Click here for a Publisher's Weekly article about the book.

When I start a project, I focus on the characters. The first step is drawing; lots of drawing!

I do pages and pages of these. I use
photo reference, especially at first. Click to enlarge.
Action poses. Click any of
these images to enlarge.
I like to put the character in poses
from the book. I try to show action
and emotion from the beginning stages.

Once I get some poses that I like, I do color studies.

My color versions can also be process studies. I did all of these
color studies digitally,  although I go for a "traditional" look.

More color studies, but I've decided to go for
 an opaque, painted look.

Color studies. Yep, I do lots of studies. At this point I'm
starting to figure out Dozer's defining characteristics.
Dozer is getting closer to his final look.

More color studies in a technique that is
close to the final process.
Getting closer.

And in this cover detail you can see what I ended up with.
Here's a detail from a finished interior illustration.


Steven James Petruccio said...

Wow! Thanks for the look at your process. Great artwork and you got the emotion you were after.

Anni Matsick said...

Sweet dog, very endearing!

David Opie said...

Thanks for the kind words, SJP and Anni!

June said...

Really good to see the process of your character development.
And I love the painted finish you went with.
Is this digital or real paint? It is hard to tell nowadays, and it doesn't really matter, I'm just curious.

David Opie said...

June, I did the color in Photoshop. Here's a link to my basic process:
Thanks for stopping by!

Elizabeth O. Dulemba said...

Love this post!! :) e

Debbie Levy said...

Great post, Dave--and I'm so happy with your illustrations for this book!

Stephen Aitken said...

Great art Dave. Thanks for sharing your process. I love the Photoshop color and how you managed to make it look so painterly!

David Opie said...

Stephen, thanks for dropping by!

Victoria Marie Lees said...

Wonderful, David. I wish I could draw. I love the emotion the dog shows as well as the action. I enjoyed the process from beginning to finished version. ~Victoria Marie Lees