Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sled-Dog Flood

Last week, I got an enjoyable assignment for Mother Jones- a piece about the sudden devastating flood that hit Eagle, Alaska when a glacier unexpectedly broke up. Though the article is about the dangers people face who are on the front lines of global warming, the art director hoped for a kind of illustration that I rarely get enjoy- the adventure story! Illustration used to be full of drawings that were related to fiction and non-fiction adventure tales, so the chance to illustrate a moment from a very harrowing tale of disaster and rescue was a welcome challenge.

I did thumbnails and ended up with a bunch of solutions that felt right, but similar to other 'flood' related drawings I have done. This was my first tight sketch.

Before I sent this, which felt right but was familiar, I remember thinking, "How could I solve this in the hardest way possible?" So, I did a quick idea that was seen from below the flood itself- a big challenge in just the construction of the image itself. Tim Luddy, the art director really liked that one and I was excited to have the best one picked for the final art.

I did a color study and got some good reference for the final drawing- like actual sled dogs and the precise model of the helicopter mentioned in the story. You'll notice I had to photoshop the ladder out of the final drawing, the editor caught that in the story it lands on the roof of the house, so they didn't need a ladder.

We were working on a map for the article as well, so here we have final art for the full page illustration and the final map. Always fun to work on something that feels new and strange- thanks to Tim Luddy for the great project.


Logan said...

Gah, love it. Way to really challenge yourself came out as one of your most exciting pieces to date in my opinion.

david said...

thats great, I like the new perspective that lead to the final piece.

John Hendrix said...

Thanks guys- I was regretting picking the hard one when it was two days till the deadline and I had just finished the final sketch!

Sarah Richardson said...

I agree, that point of view from below rocks. Com-freaking-pletely rocks, that is.

Christine Board said...

I love those hapless sled dogs... though I sincerely hope they're not drowning. :(

Lovely work creating the sense of chaos underwater but still maintaining a clear visual hierarchy. Your subtlety in handling the primary color palette is also really great.

interrobang said...

Hi, there's a beautiful hand-colored print by you in a sort of privately-owned church on New York street, here in Lawrence. I came here to your site because I saw your John Brown book. Where can I get one of those prints like the one in that New York street building? Especially a hand-colored one.

Thank you!

John Ralston