Creating the illustrations for THE SPIRIT JOURNEY
From time to time I will show you here more of my illustrations and explain new techniques that I use to give Christa’s old drawings a “new life”. What is available these days in graphic technology is stunning, and when you add to that a little time and a dash of imagination, you too will be able to realise your own artistic potential!
Now in 2021, six years into this project, the newest illustrations for The Spirit Journey are modified to fit in with the developing storyline. Various elements, never illustrated by Christa, are drawn by me. In a way, it forced me to brush up on my own illustration and design skills, which have always been part of my artistic sculptural expression.
In the moonlight, a mysterious figure was watching them closely from the darkness of the pines.
Dazed, Koko saw an unearthly light dancing in the night sky.
On the second day, they found mysterious granite monoliths standing alone in the vastness of the tundra. Half submerged in permafrost, for eons they were carved by rain, ice and wind.
The temperature dropped minute by minute, but the wounded moose was still far ahead, hiding somewhere in the wilderness of the tundra. However, Pretor found his trail, and they gave chase again.
It was back in 2015 when 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.