Drawing the Pictures for Backbeard: Pirate For Hire

SketchupFor the pictures in Backbeard: Pirate for Hire I used many of the same techniques I used in the first Backbeard book. But this time, I decided to try a few new tricks, as well.

For a while, I’ve been playing with some great free software called SketchUp. It’s a really easy, really fun program that allows you to design in three-dimensions. (If you’d like to give it a try, I have some links for downloading it here.) I decided to put it to work on the scene where Backbeard’s crew takes over the tea room.

Step 1: SketchUp

First, I built a rough model in SketchUp. It looked like this:
(Press the Play button to see it in motion.)


Step 2: Pencil

Using my model for reference, I drew a pencil sketch of the entire scene, adding in the people, the smoke, and all the small details.

Backbeard Pirate For Hire sketch


Step 3: Color and texture

Next, I scanned the sketch into the computer and started to add the textures using Photoshop. Like in the last book, every part of the illustration was built from photographs I had taken. I started with the walls and carpet, using photos from inside my house.

Backbeard Pirate For Hire color 1


Next came the tablecloths and furniture. Using some Photoshop tricks I was able to warp the textures to give them wrinkles and curves.

Backbeard Pirate For Hire Color 2


After that I did the people. (The people are always one of the most time-consuming parts of the illustrations.)

Backbeard Pirate For Hire people


Step 4: Shadows and details

Last, I created layers of shadows and tints of color to add depth to the entire scene. This is the point when everything finally comes together and the illustration is complete.

Backbeard Pirate For Hire final art