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Melissa Iwai

Children's Book Illustrator and Author

117

42

The Best Sauce

The quote I chose is Cervantes' "Hunger is the best sauce."  I was drawn to it because it aligns with my practice of developing the daily habit of only eating when I am hungry (it's not as easy as it sounds!)  

There are many kinds of sauces:  tomato, apple, fudge, hollandaise, bechamel, cream, cranberry...  But for me it has to be savory.  And the most intense flavorful savory sauce I could think of was BBQ sauce.  

(Originally, I was going for a gravy and mashed potatoes, comfort feeling, which led me to diners, but I realized that gravy really isn't SAUCE, so it didn't feel right). 

Even though BBQ sauce was apparently around in the 1500s I associate it with the Wild West Era.  The Kansas City style BBQ sauce is very popular and I love it.  It's heavily ketchup based and ketchup, I learned, was developed around 1875.  So the Wild West Era was around this time.

Here is my inspiration board:

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I have been thinking about this for about two weeks now and haven't started sketching yet!  Part of it was because I was confused about how to make it "my own" thing.  I even thought of changing my quote.  I think I just needed time to process it in my mind.  It is so different from illustrating (what I do) for me, though on an intellectual level, it is kind of the same.  So, sketches will be soon.  (I did do some sketches of the different types, but I would like to revisit that exercise and try again, so I didn't post these.

January 1, 2014

Happy New Year, everyone!

I finally am able to post some warm up exercises. I have actually done more, but my first attempts were a bit "embarrassing" and I seem to have lost them.  As I draw these, I keep thinking at how foreign lettering is to me.  I feel like I really have no clue, and I kind of stiffen up. It's hard for me to imagine drawing my own letters (as opposed to copying fonts or other letters I see), as silly as that sounds. So I am just trying to get used to this.

 Here are some warm ups:

Also, I think it is a hard word for me to show the concept of in letter form.  I found that when I wasn't really thinking about it, and analyzing it, I was able to have more fun and just "doodle".  Here are some more sketches:

Even though everything is off center and crooked, it was fun to do.  I did all of this while on the phone saying "Happy New Year" to various family members across the country.  I feel I am nowhere near doing the thumbnails.  I will continue looking at other letterforms for inspiration and keep doodling...  

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I did some more sketches this afternoon and worked on some thumbnail ideas.  Thanks, Sarah B. and Pennie for your comments!

I decided to explore that avenue further -- the idea of "hunger" coming out of a sauce bottle.  I like #3 for the concept, but I'm not happy with the composition.  When I just had the bottle floating in the air, it left a huge white space to the left.  So I filled it with someone holding the bottle and added a hint of a dog sniffing the food (a la that dog video with the guy talking about bacon, etc. that he ate).   I feel though, that the illustration is taking over the lettering.  I want the lettering to be more of the focus.  

Sarah B. mentioned the sauce bottle and label, and I tried to work something further with that idea.  I like this one (#2), but I'm wondering, do you think the "Best" ribbon on top of the cow reads OK?  I initially had the ribbon on the forehead of the cow, as if it was in a 4-H show or something. But it was too small. Also, having it bigger and on the bottle, it reads more like the sauce is the "best", rather than the steer.  But it obscures part of its head, so I'm wondering if that is a problem.....  Would love to hear thoughts on this!

#4 is keeping with the cowboy theme.  It's hard to see, but the "sauce" is made out of rope and is like a lasso border.  I was inspired by the Wild West show posters on my mood board.  I have "hunger" aflame.  Partly because when you are hungry, it is an intense feeling that is hard to ignore.  And also because it reminded me of those old western movies where they have some wanted poster burn in the middle, eating away the paper.  I like this one a lot too, but it might not be as "fun" as the more overt food ones.

#1 is a variation on the hamburger one, only this time it is is an Italian Hero, so the sauce would be the Italian dressing oozing out.  I liked the composition because everything fits together and the type is contained well. MK mentioned type being contained in shapes in another critique as a good thing, and that idea stuck with me.  

Please let me know what you think -- which one do you think is the most successful?

January 7, 2014

I finally found some time to work on this!  Here are two sketches (not final) of the thumbnail layouts (#1 and #4) I chose to focus on.

I can't decide which one I like better.  #1 is nice because it is clearly about food.  #4 captures more of the rodeo/barbecue sauce feel I was originally going for.  There's more movement, but I think more white space -- don't know what to do about that -- should I fill it more??  And what do you think about the steer?  There was a huge white space there, and I wanted to add something.  

In #1, I need to raise "best".  Does the 3-D effect look weird on the Hero filling?  

I'd love to hear your feedback! Thanks!

January 11, 2014

I decided to go with the first layout.  Here is my final sketch.  I think everything is pretty balanced. I probably should redo the G and make it narrower now that I look at it again. Also make the little "a" taller?  Is there anything else I should change?

It took me awhile to get this far!  Any feedback is welcome.  

January 23, 2014

I got hit by some deadlines, so I had to put this aside for awhile.  Also, I have to admit, I was a bit nervous about inking!  
I finally did it.  I have some layers.  It was hard trying to figure this out, because I'm not sure how I'm going to color it.  I may have to make more.  Or just figure it out in Illustrator when I digitize it. 

Anyway, here is my final inking in layers.  I will play around tomorrow and tyring and put it all together!

I'm wondering if I should make a border...  not sure.

This is the sketch without the filling.

I redrew the B.  The shading is separate for BEST.  And I did the sauce separate too -- I wasn't sure if I would use lines or not, so I just did both, and I'll figure it out later!  Might have to fiddle with "is the" a bit.  And move the letters of BEST around to be more evenly spaced.  But I'm pretty happy so far.  Inking was HARD!  I am not used to working like this.  It brought me back to my teenage days when I was more precision oriented and used ink a lot in my artwork.  

January 24, 2014

So I took MK's advice and made the "e" in "sauce" thicker as well as the letters in "hunger".  Then I colored it.  This took way longer than I had expected.  I'm not 100% happy with the color.  I felt like I had to stick with representational colors because funky colors on bread and meat didn't look very appetizing...  I painted the stripes in India ink and colorized them.  I think I need a break from this after looking at it for so long!  I'll come back and assess later... 

Any feedback is welcome!

January 29, 2014

Well, I think I am finally finished!! I took Mary Kate's advice and amped up the colors more, and I do think my hero sandwich looks more appetizing.  
Thanks for a great class, MK. And thank you to everyone who was so supportive and gave helpful critiques!

January 29. 2014

I decided to take Janine's advice and I recolored the line around the bun. It's a subtle difference, but I think it looks better this way and lets the letters stand out.  Thanks, Janine!


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