I'm super happy to finally share this project in its finished form with you.
During this semester in the course of my studies, we had to come up with a children's book: Writing the story, designing characters, making a storyboard of 12 double pages and handing in four completed illustrations measuring 480mm x 240mm.
About The Technique:
I initially started out these illustrations in acrylics, but then realised it was more practical to paint them in photoshop. The reason was mostly so that I could be more flexible in the layout afterwards and so I could adjust things easily.
So like I said, painted on photoshop (CS6) using a tablet.
For those who are interested in reading the story, here it is.
(I am not a writer, the focus was more on creating a good foundation for illustrations. I have put in italic the parts that appear on the illustrations. Also, keep in my mind this story is for children that are a bit older, as it has a bit of a "brutal end".)
Emeraude looked at me with her big brown eyes.The crackling fire brought us much warmth in this harsh winter season. “Sister”, said the little one, as she cuddled up in my arms “Will you tell me one of your stories?”.
Emeraude loved tales, she was a very bright child. She couldn’t read yet but I was sure that as soon as she had learnt, she would devour all the books that rested on the shelves in our grandmothers’s home, as I had done in the past.
“Alright Emy, I say we need to warm ourselves up some more. I will tell you a story of a man that lived in a far away land. A land where the heat reigns and the the grains of sand from the desert make their way into every imaginable corner.
“Once upon a time, there lived a regular man named Haytham. He was neither rich nor poor, neither extremely intelligent nor very stupid. He led a simple life with his wife in their home. He owned a goat and a lovely garden, filled with pomegranates, grapes, figs, peaches and apricots as well as some almonds and walnuts. There was also a corner full of vegetables. Together with his wife, he made small intricate wood objects that he would sell every Saturday at the bazaar in the neighbouring town in exchange of a few coins, with which he would buy the extra supplies that his wife and himself needed.
This Saturday had been a very successful one. He had sold a large amount of wooden jewellery boxes as well as cutlery for salad. As he packed his remaining merchandise, he counted the coins in his hands. There were 10 coins more than usual! He decided to do something he never did! He took a stroll in the remaining stands of the bazaar and let his eyes wander over the marvellous treasures that were to be found. He decided to treat his wife to an exceptional purchase but, after 20 minutes of wandering about, he didn’t seem to find anything worth the extra expense.
Disappointed, he made his way back home, taking a different road for once. In a crossroad he looked towards a narrow alley, his eyes caught a glimpse of a shimmering light. He approached. He was stunned, it was a beautiful sight. An uncountable number of sumptuous lamps hung from the ceiling. Overwhelmed, he did not know where to look, there were so many beautiful colours, textures and patterns before his eyes. He decided that a lamp from this shop would be his special purchase. As he entered the store, the owner, a very old man, welcomed him. “May I help in your search son? What are you looking for?”.
“Thank you sir, I am looking for a gift to present to my beautiful wife.” answered Haytham
“Let me see what I can come up with.” answered the old man, as he disappeared into the shop
“I have found these three lamps, that I think you might find to your liking, what do you think?” he asked.
Haytham looked at them, the three were very similar in shape and size but the last one stood out with its bold and shimmering golden color and elaborate ornamentation .
He pointed to that one and handed the shop-keeper 7 coins.
“Wise choice, my son”, said the old man, with a little smile at the corners of his mouth.
And so, beaming with joy, the golden lamp in his arms, he made his way back home. As he had taken a different route than usual, he did not know this part of the town. He asked a passer-by for directions, reached the outskirts of the town and entered into the desert region in which his home was located.
Haytham walked and walked, the ground kept getting more arid. He was getting tired. All of a sudden, he tripped and fell to the ground. The remaining coins he had made from his trades of the day slipped from his pocket and disappeared into a crevasse.
“Noooo”, he yelled, as he fell to his knees and tried to retrieve his precious salary. There was no hope. He was devastated. What would he do without his earnings? His wife and him needed this money, and now he had lost it, and instead held this needless lamp in his arms.
He had not shed any tears for a long time, but as he sat there, the beautiful golden lamp in his hands, emotion filled him and soon enough a teardrop made its way down his cheek.
He shed many tears and finally when he felt that his insides were as dry as the desert he was surrounded by, he stopped. He glanced to the floor. That’s when he saw it: To his greatest astonishment, an uncountable number of gold coins were scattered over the earth.
At first, he thought that his lost coins had resurfaced, but he realised that these ones shone brighter and that the were much greater in numbers
He could not comprehend where these coins had come from, but he felt great relief and muttered words of thanks for this marvellous miracle. He gathered the coins and continued his way home.
As he arrived to his household, he caught a glimpse of Nudara tending to the garden, She was a dazzling sight in the setting sun. She saw him arriving, and a bright smile spread across her face. She gestured for him to go inside already and that she would join shortly.
As Nudara entered and made her way to the stove to prepare some tea, she cried out: “Husband of mine, what is this that I see?” pointing to the golden lamp.
“This, my dear, is a gift for you”. said Haytham,proudly.
Nudara was stunned, she had never received such a beautiful gift.
“Thank you very much”, she answered as she took the lamp in her arms.
He then told her about his eventful day, the good earnings, the discovery of the lamp, the loss of his earnings and the miraculous gold.
As the day set to an end, the couple rejoiced in their good fortune.
In the following weeks, Haytham and Nudara were very busy and joyful.They bought new clothes and furniture and led the life of people that did not have to worry about money.
At some point though, the money started wearing thin, and Haytham decided to return to the bazaar to sell some more of his wife and his own creations.
Nudara stayed at home, tending to the household and the garden. She realised that she had still not hung up the beautiful golden lamp in the agitation of the past few weeks.
She grabbed an old chair, got a few tools and the beautiful lamp and climbed onto the chair. All of a sudden, as she set her second foot onto the chair’s used surface, she let out a scream and staggered as a jolt of pain travelled through her body. She looked down, and realised she had stepped onto a sharp and spiked nail.
Hastily, she tried her best to hang the lamp, as tears ran down her face. When it was done, she stepped down and made her way to the bathroom to get some pharmaceutical supplies.
That’s when she heard it, the steady chime of objects hitting the floor’s surface. She turned around, it was an incredible sight, gold coins were piling up on the ground. They were emerging from the tip of the lamp.
As soon as her husband came home, Nudara told him about the day’s miraculous event. He was stunned! “Of course, how could I of not realised it was the lamp all along” said Haytham, rushing towards the miraculous object, laying his hands on its surface as if he was worshiping it.
Now they simply had to figure out what triggered the lamp to release the coins, and it didn’t take them long to come to the realisation that it was the teardrops that were transformed into the pieces of gold.
Now that the couple knew the secret to the gold coins, they would never lack of anything.
This story could of ended on this joyful note but alas, human nature’s greediness has a tendency of prevailing and in this story, it was no exception.
Haytham began spending much time with the lamp, he would think about his childhood and try to shed some tears of nostalgia, he read the saddest books he owned over and over again, he even tried to induce physical pain upon himself in the hopes that he would shed a few tears. He was finding any imaginable way to make himself feel sad emotions and release tears on the lamp.The problem was, the more gold he got, the less emotional he would get, and the happier he thought he felt so that at some point he could not manage to bring himself to cry anymore.
During these events, he had grown aggressive towards Nudara and very possessive of the lamp that he had initially gifted her. He would not let her get near it, he felt like he deserved it, after all he was the one that had found and bought it and he felt as if he was the one worthy of the connection with the magical power it held. He felt an irresistible urge to get his hands on more and more gold.
Haytham, slowly but surely, was loosing himself in his avarice. Insanity was taking hold of him. This leads me to the tragic end of this tale:
In a hypnotic state, Haytham searched desperately for something that would make him feel, what did he cherish? That’s when it hit him. Nudara, of course.
Without realising what was happening nor grasping any of his actions, he approached his wife, and put an end to her life.
Emerging from the daze he had been plunged in, he realised what he had just done. He cried out, he did not understand, he could not breathe. The tears started rolling, he had lost his partner. Even worse, he had taken her life with his own hands. He stared down at them. In this moment he felt the most grief and sorrow that he had ever felt. The lamp. true to its power, with every tear Haytham spilled, a gold coin appeared. The tears fell and fell and the golden pile grew and grew and it was not long until Haytham was submerged in what had caused his demise.
Emeraude looked up at me and asked: “So that’s it, that’s how it ended?”.
Yes, I know, quite a tragic story isn’t it? I replied
“But, there’s something I don’t understand” Emy stated.
“And what is that?” I asked
“Well, if he simply needed to spill tears in order to get the gold, why didn’t Haytham simply cut an onion?”
I laughed, well there was something I hadn’t thought about.
I will probably make specific posts on my process and sketches if you are interested. This was already a very long post.
Take care beautiful people,