Creating the illustrations for
The Spirit Journey

In 2015, I invited Kajtek and Koko to join me in the telling of my story. More importantly, I aimed to do it in Janusz Christa’s unique graphic style. Through much experimentation, I found a way to develop new illustrations from Christa’s original works.

My intention in working this way is out of respect for Christa’s Kajtek and Koko cartoons, and more importantly, to breathe life into Christa’s rich legacy. By releasing his characters from their ‘time capsule’, I hope to rekindle interest in them today.

So, here is how I go about it:

Image 1. First, I visualise how an illustration will fit my story line. I then begin pouring through volumes of Christa drawings, that provide the ‘building blocks’ for each new illustration. Often there are 40 or 50 separate elements for every image.

Image 2. Next, I trim (erase) unneeded bits from the selected drawings to begin building the art.

Image 3. I add (if needed) new elements from other selections and rearrange them even more.

Image 4. At this point, I adjust the luminance of all selected elements.

Image 5. The next stage is the most time consuming — it is joining and tracing over each black line to achieve the ‘flow’ of a new drawing. I must be careful at this stage, to not lose the subtle way that Christa drew his lines. It is worth the trouble and takes patience, but the final result is very satisfying in the end.

Image 6.  When colouring, I start with the largest areas (in this case, the late evening sky).

Image 7: Once the entire illustration is coloured, I make any final adjustments to bring the whole image into balance. For example, in order to make my dog, Pretor, stand out against the sky, I deepened the sunset and (sorry Pretor) lengthened his tail.

This image will appear in upcoming December Blog, titled “Training for the Journey”.

This illustration took me 4 days (or 25 hours in total) to complete. If I was to draw my own illustration (yes, I do know how to draw), it would take far less time. However, staying true to the ‘Christa’s way’ (which is my objective and is the most challenging), is also the most rewarding.

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