Years ago I had an idea for series of illustrations where I would design them using musical beats and rhythms, a limited color palette, and animals with their textures throughout. I named it exotica, a word I heard in school when describing unique imports from other countries in the old days when shipping was still done by wooden ships. I completed three illustrations. While the layouts and coloring were cool, the line work was terrible, the anatomy and positioning of the figures needed work, the materials I used resulted in an amateurish finish, and there were a few other problems. I still thought the concept was a great idea, and I always intended to pick it up again.
Recently I completed a series of pulp team ups with my character Wandering Koala and was a little disappointed with how they turned out. I thought they could be better. So I asked myself, "Self, what could you do to improve your illustrating?" I thought giving exotica another go would help.
I love the work of Edmund Dulac. He was a victorian children's book illustrator from the turn of the century (early 20th, not 21st) who painted a lot of oriental scenes (Arabian Nights, Chinese tales, and much, much more). I love his sense of color, design, and the way he designed his figures. I've also always loved the Arabian Nights and things like it, so I decided to try a scene in that spirit. I laid it out with a Staedtler 2B pencil and inked it with a brush and sumi ink. I thought about coloring it, but it worked so well in black & white I decided to leave it. I love black & white artwork, but so often I get nervous and color it. I need to be braver and just leave the line work.
Let me know what you think. The drawing and design are much stronger than my recent illustrations, but I've still got more work to do. Check back often to see what I come up with next!