By Joe Rossi
When creating art for Ariel Bradley I wanted it to be as rich and
inviting as the story itself. This was the first book where I had the
opportunity to experiment with color and wanted it to be something special. I’m rather partial to watercolor and instantly knew that the brush strokes could add a much desired depth to the art. First I painted a base layer of color washes and started to outline the edges with illustration pens. I layered this technique many times until I was satisfied. Scanning the art piece by piece I built the final illustrations up, enhancing each one by adding lighting effects, color variations, and paper textures.
The color of the outlines was carefully selected, feeling black would be far too dreary and drain all the life from the page, I chose a rich, dark brown to add warmth to the book. Everything had to feel organic and rustic, from the brown outlines to the aged paper effects, just as rich with history as the story.
The art to me was more about the reader feeling an emotion by
looking at each illustration. By using certain hues and tones I
wanted the lighting to be a key element and to set the mood to
each painting. Warm yellows and oranges were used to capture
the essence of an early fall morning. Deep and dark reds helped
emphasize General Howe’s intimidating presence. And cool blues and purples were painted against a stark white moon to set a chill on a cold autumn night. All of these elements eventually came together to help me flush out the story of a brave, young boy. Hopefully the art strengthens the bond readers feel with Ariel, and help them fall in love with his adventure.