Gravity Falls

After finishing both seasons of Gravity Falls, I was inspired to try my hand at the setting and characters with a fan art piece. As I enjoy both the offbeat humor and mystery of the series, I wanted to include hints of both. I thought it especially important to capture the magic of the Oregon wood in which the story takes place. Though I didn't want to clutter the piece with all of the creatures Dipper and Mabel encounter, I did hide a few of the quirky gnomes in the bottom left corner.

All and all, it was a fun challenge to translate the show's cartoon style into my own! Hopefully fellow fans will get a kick out of seeing these characters illustrated differently.

 

 

Animated GIF of the process:

Narnia Book Cover

For many years now I've wanted to create an fan work to honor of one of my most beloved fantasy series. Narnia was my earliest foray into fantasy. My parent's read The Chronicles of Narnia aloud to my siblings and I for many years before we could read ourselves. Later, I was absolutely swept away by the 1988 BBC production, watching it many times throughout my childhood.

Here we have my fan cover for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Re-reading the book, it was hard to decide what elements to include on the cover -but, ultimately, I felt that the biggest emphasis should be on the four siblings. It was equally important to show the wintry magic of Narnia in the surroundings. The one aspect I did take liberties with was the children's coats. Technically they should all be wearing oversized fur coats (taken from the Wardrobe) -but I really wanted to show them in more eye-catching colors and styles from the 1940s to emphasize that they come from our world.

(Logo used for mock-up purposes only. I did not create it nor do I claim any ownership of the property.)

Enjoy!

Sand Wizard

Here's a brand new personal piece. In 'Sand Wizard' I was interested in exploring a desert environment, as it'd been ages since I painted one. The main inspiration came from a number of beautiful long exposure photos I've seen of night skies above deserts. And the idea of for the color scheme was to do a purple/rose background paired with a golden glow.

For our Moroccan wizard boy, I enjoyed trying my hand at some traditional clothing from the culture. The Fennec foxes seemed like a great fit for an added measure of depth and cuteness -I'm especially happy with the light shinning through their ears. Yes, I did take a fantastical license with their purple eye color.

This whole image was an exceptionally quick process for me once the idea struck, taking only a few days of painting to complete from thumbnail to final.

Enjoy!

If you like this image you can BUY A PRINT in my shop. Thanks so much!

 

 

Below is a quick animation of my process:

Butterfly Magic

I'm finally getting back into the swing of things after the chaos of an international move over the holidays (back from Germany to my home state of Virginia), followed by house hunting. After an amazing three-year-stint aboard in Southern Germany, chalked full of European travel, historic sites, international friends, and incredible food, my husband and I felt it was time to head home -to be closer to our families and move onward to our next life adventure. I will never forget my time spent abroad, nor the awesome friends I made, and I want to continue traveling to other parts of this beautiful world.

I'm now mostly settled into my lovely new home studio -except for wall art- always such a hard decision for an artist! Photos of my new studio space to follow soon!

So: Butterfly Magic. This one popped up when I was doodling around for ideas for a spring promotional piece. I thought it would be neat to do more images in the vein of "Firefly Magic" ...as I could eventually see a small series of magical encounters of kids with critters.

As always, a tremendous thanks to my critique groups and art friends for their great feedback along the way!

I've included several detail shots and a quick animation of the steps. I do want to note that this was created at a nice big resolution of 24" x 36" @300 dpi for making some huge crisp art prints.

If you like this image you can now BUY A PRINT! Thanks so much.

StarSpun: Chapter 9!

Chapter #9 for my webcomic StarSpun releases today. This one is a bit of breather for Poppy after the previous maelstrom, but sets things up for the remaining chapters.

 

Click the image below to read this as an infinite scroll:

Chapter Summary: Desperately worried about her injured cat, Poppy knocks upon the door of the giant glowing conch shell. Here she meets an old hermit named Solomon who heals Amber and tells her his story -their paths are not so dissimilar.

Enchanted Acorns

I just put the finishing sparkles on a brand new personal piece. This one was created for the October 2015 SCBWI Draw This challenge, the theme: Enchanted. This theme meshed nicely with my desire to create a fall-themed illustration for fun and promotion. I was going for something glowing and magical that would fit well into my middle grade fantasy portfolio. In this I challenged myself to create a multi-figure composition with clear leading lines for the viewer.

I have the awesome ladies of my critique groups to thank for the way this one shaped up at the end! You all are wonderful!

 

The Legend of Shi-Lin Releases Today!

The Legend of Shi-Lin by Sharon Lee Beatty has just released in paperback form via Amazon today! For this story I created seven original interior illustrations, one chapter heading illustration, and a custom wrap book cover.

The story of The Legend of Shi-Lin is a brand new tale that is inspired by Chinese legends. It follows the story of a most unusual dragon woman and revolves around her fascination with the human world -and one man in particular.

My favorite part about this cover was getting to try my hand at painting a Chinese dragon.

*Note: text design mock-up may not reflect final cover design by client.

I created the interiors in a mock watercolor digital style. I especially enjoyed playing with Kyle T Webster's Watercolor Brushes for these.


Amsterdam Post-Conference Report & Trip

I'm safely back in the studio after an extra long weekend at the SCBWI Europolitan 2015 in Amsterdam!

The conference was wonderful. Being the first big one I'd attended this side of the pond, it was a great way to meet many new faces in the work of children's writing/illustrating/publishing over here in Europe. It was awesomely held in a venue at street address "42." It's only the answer to the meaning of life...

Prior to even arriving in the city, my husband & I visited the famous Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse, Netherlands. It was crisp and sunny when we arrived and quite pleasant to stroll. And, though early in the spring season, there were an incredible amount of blooming flowers about already. So many varieties of tulips! The whole area is masterfully landscaped and immaculately tended as well.

The conference warmed up with a Amsterdam city "Scrawl Crawl" where we were led on a guided tour of various older parts of the city. Some sketched, some photographed, I mostly just soaked it all in. I especially fell in love with the rich and quirky architecture, especially the cute narrow canal houses.

For Day 1 of the actual conference, I enjoyed the opening panel and keynote on diversity. I then opted for a few illustration-related panels. The first of these was "Lessons from Successful Picture Books for Illustrators" presented by Martha Rago, Creative Director of Random House/Golden Books. This was followed by "A Thousand Words and Four Images" presented by illustrator Rachelle Meyer. After lunch I attended "Pitch Yourself Positive: How to Promote Yourself Effectively as an Illustrator" -where, among other things, we were shown some really creative mailers Martha had received from illustrators. I topped the day off with a writing related presentation by Agent Marietta Zacker on characters. All this followed by a social/art showcase and then a group Japanese meal with a number of writers and illustrators we nabbed to join us.

Day 2 at the conference I opted to focus a bit more on the writing side of things, spending most of my day in Esther Hershenhorn's Sunday Intensive entitled: "Rx for Children's Books Creators: Getting Your Stories Right." This turned out to be about the writing life as a hero's journey, which gave me much food for thought. On either end there were also a couple of presentations on publishing across country boundaries and on the cultural trickiness that can ensue. The conference wrapped up with regional news, contest winners, and prizes (including a timely golden egg hunt). The very last event was a canal cruise at sunset, which was a beautiful cap on the event!

Post-conference my husband and I went to see the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum. Both are beautifully designed experiences. As we weren't allowed to photograph much of anything at the Van Gogh, I had to suffice with a capture in front of one of the giant wall posters meant for that purpose. The art on display there was quite extensive and presented as a "story of his life & work" which was very informative. I only wish they actually had Starry Night there -apparently it's in the MoMA in New York!

The Rijksmuseum itself seemed a work of art, a church-like structure built to house all of those great dutch masters -complete with stained-glass likenesses of many. And standing in front of Rembrandt's Night Watch was an amazing experience all it's own. What a painting! I could have gaped at it for hours. Likewise, with the Battle at Waterloo painting. It's hard to comprehend painting at that scale and with that detail and skill!

Note: the photos included tend to be those taken either before or after the conference, as I was too busy in-conference to get out the camera!

Can't wait for the next one in two years!

SCBWI Europolitan Conference 2015

I'm super excited today to be prepping for the SCBWI Europolitan Conference in Amsterdam over this-coming long weekend! (April 3rd - 6th, 2015)

I'm keeping it simple as far as materials to bring with me, as everything needs to fit in my carry-on. I opted for a hardcover custom photo book as a portfolio especially for the Portfolio Showcase (I'll be carrying my iPad with me otherwise.) I went with AdoramaPix as my printer and couldn't be happier! Very clean and professional job on the book, nice quality prints, and great thick paper. I also love the lay-flat gutterless spread printing. (see the Dandelion image below)

For business cards I used my old standby Moo.com and the cards turned out lovely as always. I can't get enough of their Printfinity, such a wonderful way to showcase portfolio images.

See you at the conference!

 

Flying Colors

This painting was created as a new Laura Diehl Illustration logo image and as a printed portfolio book cover. The initial idea actually came from playing with arrangements of my initials 'LD.' While doodling, it struck me that the 'D' could be a sail. It soon followed that this sail might be attached to a painter's palette and paintbrush to form a magical sort of ship.

When I was thinking of the magic steam billowing from the lit brush, I was envisioning something akin to the way I've always imagined the trails from the alchemy which powers ships in the book Larklight by Philip Reeve (which I've been recently reading.)

 

Sorcerer's Apprentice

I'm sharing another brand new portfolio piece. The genesis of this was the idea of a magic pot boiling over because it was left unattended -with explosive results. Who better to neglect the caldron than a sleepy apprentice boy (they always seem to take the blame for these things). I assume this young man was left by his sorcerer master to stir the magic potion and didn't do a very good job of it. It's so warm and comfy by the fire and dogs are so snuggly...

I was thinking of this as a "middle grade" style book cover piece so it follows a book cover-ish composition, placing the main subjects and focal area in the lower third and allowing plenty of top space for titles, etc.

My biggest takeaway from this painting was a reminder to use the texturing option of brushes more in Photoshop. So great for giving some tooth to wood or stone!

Below I've included a few close-ups as well as another quick animation of the key steps involved in painting this. (I even included the thumbnail sketch which is the only part done with traditional media.)

 


Frost Princess

I've just finished up a new original illustration as part of my portfolio preparation for the 2015 SCBWI Europolitan conference, to be held in Amsterdam at the beginning of April.

The concept is a princess who brings the frost. I was thinking of her as the Snow Queen's little sister. This image started with a very specific lighting scheme and color palette in mind. At first it only featured the fox, but quickly evolved to include the girl. I also had a lot of fun making Photoshop frost brushes for this one.

 

StarSpun: Chapter 6!

I'm happy to announce that installment 6 of my ongoing webcomic StarSpun is finally finished and online. Entitled 'Grandmother Serenity' it follows our protagonist Poppy as she is pulled into the twilight depths of the Sea of Slumber -and meets a very ancient colossal someone there.

Please click the cover below to read it. Enjoy!

Den Eviga Elden Magi: Book 5 - Printed Copies!

I received a very nice surprise in the mail today: the printed books for Patrik Bergström's Den eviga eldens magi: Gudarnas återkomst from Swedish publisher Lilla Piratförlaget. This is the 5th and final book in Patrik's children's fantasy series, which brings Alex and Corinthia's magical story to an exciting conclusion.

As the illustrator, I especially love how vibrant the color turned out on the cover. And I very much appreciate just how much care was taken in placing the interiors I created within the chapter text! Thanks again, Patrik and Erik, for giving me this amazing opportunity!

Below are a few photos of the lovely printed book:

 

A Wrinkle in Time - 'Mock' Book Cover

I'm taking little break between StarSpun chapters before the chapter 5 launch this Saturday. For fun, I decided to try my hand at a 'mock' book cover for a book that is very near and dear to me since I was a child: A Wrinkle in Time.

The idea for this project was to paint a cover for this classic children's science fiction book (originally published in 1962) in the style of today's middle grade book covers. I was also very focused on keeping the visuals clean and simple while conveying the mood and spirit of this incredible and mystical book.

Cover painting, mock-up with title text, and process images are below:

Process images from cover creation.

October Update

I am currently working through the paintings for StarSpun Chapter 5 alongside some fun client work. More information to come on the next StarSpun chapter soon!

Amidst the artwork, my husband and I did find time to get away for some travel this past weekend. Our destination: Zadar, Croatia along the Adriatic Sea.

From there we were able to travel to the breathtaking Plitvice Lakes National Park. I'm so glad that we did because it was stunning! I spent the entire hike gushing about the "color palettes" of the nature surrounding us.

Here are a few of my very favorite photos from this excursion:

StarSpun Comic Trailer

I'm excited to share with you a book trailer I've made for my webcomic StarSpun. This gives a nice visual introduction to the project and sets up the story question.

Creating this was quite the learning experience because I used Adobe After Effects, which is new to me. (I'm so grateful for YouTube and Adobe tutorials.) All-in-all I do like the way it turned out and had fun doing it. The music I ended up using (from Capo Productions) was a great find and I feel suits the mood quite well.

Note: don't forget to turn it up to HD!

 

Enjoy!

StarSpun Chapter 4 Release!

So I realized that I've been rather remiss in posting news about updates to my online graphic novel StarSpun here on my main site.

Along those lines, I want to announce that Chapter 4 is live! This one is called 'River of Dreams' and includes updated renditions of some of the imagery that first started me on this story and journey.

 Chapter 4 Cover

Chapter 4 Cover

Enjoy!