This past summer I was contacted by Daniel Stelzer, Art Director for Answers Magazine, to possibly work on an illustration assignment for them. I had not seen Answers Magazine before, and learned that it is a magazine that deals with scientific issues and other worldview topics all from a biblical perspective. It is the periodical produced by the Answers in Genesis organization, the folks that are behind the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky.
Dan had sought me out having seen some of my previous work created for a series of Bible lessons for kids. He said he wanted me to create five pages of graphic novel-style illustrations all about the details of how a white blood cell works. The graphic novel thing I understood because I’m a cartoonist, but also because I’m a cartoonist, I couldn’t figure out why he wanted me to do serious science art. After a pause on my part, I said,
“You’ve seen the work on my website, right?”
“And you don’t want me to put funny faces on the cells?”
“It’s just straight up micro-biology illustrations?”
So, the challenge presented in this assignment was intriguing. The white blood cell process had to be turned into a panel-by-panel “story” so that it would be more readily understood by the layman picking up this magazine. I decided to accept this mission, knowing full well that the magazine might disavow any knowledge of me should I screw it up.
They provided rough thumbnail concept sketches of what they wanted, and since I don’t happen to have a microscope of my own, they also sent some great reference material to help me along. We were dealing with real science and nothing of fantasy, so it had to be right. This meant we had MANY discussions back and forth discussing each step in my creative process which included rough drawings, tight pencil drawings, a rough color pass, and then final color. Changes were made along the way to make sure some things were more accurate while others were more understandable.
Stylistically, the Art Director liked my previous work with watercolor, but also liked the sophisticated computer coloring found in many graphic novels today. So, I had to come up with a hybrid of methods to pull off a look that was both slick and organic. The art ended up having an inked line as you would see in comic books, with a coloring job that combined traditional watercolor paint and additional Photoshop work. I thought the combination of methods turned out pretty good….
If you’d like to see a little more of my work on this project, including some preliminary stages of the art, you should check out Answers Magazine on Facebook where they posted some extra steps in the process of this article.
Or, if you’d like to order your own copy of the magazine with all five pages of the published art in it, it is available now in the Oct-Dec 2010 issue. Just go to Answers Magazine‘s website and contact them about ordering this special issue!