Since the mermaid illustration was created as a promotional piece that I would send out to trade publishers (as well as scholastic publishers), I decided to add a little spot illustration. This not only adds to the story line, but carries the tropical elements over to the back of my postcard....a visual treat for the eyes. Here we have a budding romance between a dapper lobster and shy starfish.
In the finished illustration, I added a sea horse to the right of the mermaid in order to add balance to the overall composition and introduce another cute sea creature into the story. I also slightly changed the angle of the starfish on the left so that the line would not be so vertical. I decided not to use such literal "scales" in the mermaid's dress, but instead gave it a smoother texture. I am such a "girly" girl myself, and had a lot of fun fashioning a sophisticated little princess dress for my mermaid....one that little girls would love, but not too cluttered. In the planning stages of my illustrations, I try to constantly keep in mind the overall balance of the finished work. This applies to composition as well as color. In this piece, I my focus was on the lush secondary color palette we associate with the tropics. I challenged myself to use saturated color and lots of fun details, yet l pull it all together in the end. This turned out to be one of my strongest illustrations to date. I already placed an order for the promo postcards I will send out in my next mailing to publishers. I am proud to say that I created the entire piece traditionally with gouache, without having to go in digitally and make corrections or "fix" anything. My illustrations are usually acombination of both traditional and digital media, but in this case I was able to acheive the look I desired using only traditional materials.
Here you can see that I have established the skin tones and the hair...and have begun to create the background. I decided to work on the mermaid's hair and skin first, since that would help me determine how to lay down a background of ocean that she would not get "lost" in. I did go back and work on the hair and skin more later on until I was happy with the overall illustration.
The original sketch inspired by the Illustration Friday theme "Tales & Legends". I often use Illustration Friday as an opportunity to create new sample pieces for my portfolio and promote my art blog and website.