Fri
Aug 2 2013 11:00am

Creating the Artwork for “Jake and the Other Girl”

Greg Manchess Jake and the Other Girl

I read this short story—“Jake and the Other Girl”—for Tor.com, a follow-up to a previous story, “Dress Your Marines in White,” by Emmy Laybourne. I toyed with a short-lived idea that might connect with my illustration for the first story, based on a set of men’s arms.

Greg Manchess Jake and the Other Girl

But I had a clearer idea that I needed to know & show the environment for the piece. The mood needed to be established instantly

The story is post-apocalyptic. I quickly rejected that early approach after researching, at length, war-torn cities, destroyed cities, hurricane, tornado, and earthquake damaged city streets. There is only a brief scene where the main character is outdoors, but it gives the tale a sense of place and I wanted the reader to feel that

I gathered abandoned cars, some parked, some wrecked, some neglected. I used the status of the cars to reflect the status of the story. I researched shots of broken buildings, street scenes, and abandoned towns. I put all of these images up on my computer and freehanded a large scale thumbnail as the main sketch

With that much information, I only needed to hit it one time. Most times, you have to create your own luck.

Greg Manchess Jake and the Other Girl

But the challenge after getting the idea was to pull it off. It must read fast and it must feel factual. Rendering cars is not so fun, but discovering and simplifying their shapes to read quickly was very gratifying. But I had to show more than just shiny cars parked. I wanted some to feel like they had just been abandoned, while others had been there for some time

Again, getting the value correct meant the difference here. Capturing that feeling meant I had to forget what it felt like, and pay more attention to exactly what it looked like. By doing that, I managed to capture the feeling of a dust covered car

Not so intuitive. I had to study and mix the difference in value range to get shiny vs dusty. I wasn’t surprised to find out how much I learned from this painting about simplifying detail.

Greg Manchess Jake and the Other Girl

As painters, we must sometimes compartmentalize our feelings to actually capture those same feelings in the image. We start with the impression of feeling, reverse-engineer it methodically through observation and application that then re-communicates the feeling we were after originally

Using contrast was another way of projecting that feeling. I decided to have someone leave a cryptic message on the windshield, like a “wash me” note. The difference between the soft values of the dusty windshield and the crisp, hand drawn letters brought this across. To get that affect, I had to pay attention to exactly what value would be revealed if someone had haphazardly wiped away some dirt.

Greg Manchess Jake and the Other Girl

I could’ve added that passage after the oil was dry, but instead, I painted it digitally. This allowed me to give the art director, Irene Gallo, the choice to keep it or not

This is yet another way in which digital is informing my analog painting development.


This article was originally posted at Muddy Colors on July 24th 2013.

3 comments
Questionable
1. Questionable
That's an amazing insight into the illustrating progress. Thanks for sharing and I'm looking forward to more in this vein!
Alan Brown
2. AlanBrown
Thank you for sharing an insight into the artistic process, Mr. Manchess. I am always amazed how your work looks so loose/sketchy/blobby (is the proper term impressionistic?). But the more I look at it, the more I realize how everything is exactly in its place, and serves its purpose (like the dust on the car). The effort and care ends up looking so natural and effortless. I know nothing about art terms, and please excuse me if I am not getting my point across, but, bottom line, I love your work.
Questionable
3. G. Manchess
Thanks, you guys!

No need to be correct with terms when talking about painting, Alan. Your response is really all that matters.

Best,
Greg

Subscribe to this thread

Receive notification by email when a new comment is added. You must be a registered user to subscribe to threads.
Post a comment