Bass Reeves

Here’s an illustration of Deputy US Marshal Bass Reeves riding out of Fort Smith, Arkansas with a warrant in hand. Bass Reeves was the first black Deputy US Marshal west of the Mississippi. He is thought to be the real-life inspiration for The Lone Ranger. He did not have an Indian sidekick named Tonto (which is offensive on a couple of levels) but he did have friends among the indigenous tribes living in the Oklahoma and Indian Territories. The story is that he fled to Oklahoma Territory after he learned about his emancipation from slavery after the Civil War. There he learned several native languages and how to shoot and track. Those skills and contacts, along with his own ingenuity, later helped him track down the outlaws he was charged with capturing as a Deputy US Marshal. Upon his retirement, he had over 3,000 arrests of felons on his record and had killed 14 outlaws, an impressive tally which inspired many stories.

I used some artistic license to give him a white horse, like The Lone Ranger, and the traditional white hat of the western hero. The Fort Smith courthouse is drawn how it looked sometime in the 1870s. I used several reference photos for both the courthouse and Bass Reeves himself.

The font I used on the bottom is named Nashville and designed by Disturbed Type. I like the eroded look to it. I hand drew the letters for his name using the font Tagwood by Intellecta Design as a guide.

The Neighborhood’s Night – Page 8

Here’s the 6th illustration for the book project I just finished for Learning A-Z. Page 8 of The Neighborhood’s Night by Juliana Catherine.

Here Leena’s family makes it to the emergency shelter, which is the gymnasium at a school a safe distance from the wildfires. The important points of this illustration are to show the three families standing in line at the front, that they’re in a gym, and that there’s a crowd of people already there. Since I didn’t want the crowd to make the background too busy and distract from the foreground people, I made them fade from minimally colored at the front, to completely gray at the back. The color in the room also fades a bit as it recedes into the distance.

It was important to the client that I show diverse families, because they wanted to show that all sorts of people had been displaced by the wildfire. That’s why, in addition to Leena’s family, one family group consists of two women and a child and the other has a little grandmother and her grandkids, including one in in a wheelchair. The characters are a bit small to really show racial traits, but they do have a range of skin tones and hair color to indicate diversity. They also are diverse in the amount of stuff they managed to bring with them, either by affluence or by luck, it isn’t clear. One family group has several nice, big, rolling suitcases while Leena’s family just has some duffle bags and the third family doesn’t have any bags at all.

An illustration of page 8 of The Neighborhood's Night.  The scene is a school gymnasium set up as an emergency shelter with a crowd of people around cots set up on the floor.  Three displaced families stand in line in the foreground.  A woman at a table seems to be handling sign-ins.

The Neighborhood’s Night – Page 7

Here’s the 5th illustration for the book project I just finished for Learning A-Z. Page 7 of The Neighborhood’s Night by Juliana Catherine.

This is the last one in the project that has fancy lighting. From here on out the characters will be indoors under regular lights, which is a lot easier, but not as pretty.

Anyway, Leena and Amir are in the backseat of the car as their mom drives them away from their house towards the evacuation shelter. Leena is sad and worried. Amir is too young to understand, so is sleeping. He spends most of the book asleep, actually.

In the sketch phase for this one, I originally drew it at a different angle because I didn’t realize two-year olds, the age Amir is supposed to be, still have to be in rear-facing carseats. I thought they could front-face when they turned one. Nope. It either changed since my kids were that age, or I was remembering it wrong. Anyway, at first I drew them both facing forward. I had to completely redraw it at this angle so that both the kids’ faces are visible. Glad I caught it before I sent it to the client.

An illustration for page 7 of The Neighborhood's Night by Juliana Catherine.  It's the interior of a car showing two children in the backseat.  There's a toddler sleeping in his carseat and his sister looks sad and worried beside him.  Outside the window, the trees are silhouetted against a red sky.

The Neighborhood’s Night – Page 3

Here’s the first illustration for the book project I just finished for Learning A-Z. Page 3 of The Neighborhood’s Night by Juliana Catherine. Like with all the interior illustrations in this project, this one’s a spot illustration that will be the width of one page without any bleed. The image has a half inch on either side that will likely be cut off, but allows the publisher some room to shift the image left or right or to adjust the size a bit if they like. Like the cover image, the lighting was quite important on this one too. I rather like the swirling smoke.

An illustration for page 3 of The Neighborhood's Night by Juliana Catherine.  The image shows an interior shot of a girl's bedroom.  A worried girl in bed has the covers pulled up to her chin and is looking out the window.  Outside, it is nighttime, but the sky is red and there is smoke swirling around a streetlight;

Project Complete! The Neighborhood’s Night

I just finished illustrating a graded reader from Learning A-Z. The Neighborhood’s Night by Juliana Catherine. It’s about a family who has to evacuate their home due to forest fires near their neighborhood. Here’s a mock-up of the cover. It was work-for-hire, so it’s copyright Learning A-Z.

A mock-up of the cover of the book The Neighborhood's Night by Juliana Catherine Illustrated by Karen B. Jones.  The image includes text over an illustration of people and vehicles on a street during an evacuation due to a nighttime forest fire.

I sure got practice drawing vehicles on this one and the changing perspective along the curve was challenging, but the most important part of this illustration was the lighting. I wanted it bright enough to show what was going on and all the people and such, but still look like it’s actually nighttime. An argument could be made that maybe it should have been more smoky, but the haze would have obscured more of the background details, so I went light on the smoke. This image took longer than all the rest of the images in the book.

The full cover image actually wraps around the back. I’ll share that later.

I’m going to dole out the interior illustrations over the next few days here, so keep an eye out if that interests you.

Inktober 2020 #31 – Crawl

So, since this is posting on Halloween, I thought it should be a Halloween themed image. So, the two things that come to mind with crawl is creepy crawly bugs and crawling babies. Bugs only seem really Halloweeny if it’s a spider or if they’re crawling over a corpse. I already did a spider this month and corpses are gross. Trying to not go for too gross since my target audience are kids.

So, a Halloween-themed baby.

I doodled a baby pumpkin-head, a baby Dracula, a baby Frankenstein’s monster, and a baby zombie. By the way, baby zombie? NO. Not cute. Bad. Very bad.

And I also doodled this baby Death, which is the one I liked best. So, that’s the one I finished off for today.

Whew! This is the last one! I’m done. I hope you enjoyed the month of inktober as much as I did. Thanks for watching!

A black and white cartoon of the personification of Death as a baby skeleton in his traditional robes crawling along with his scythe in one hand.