Thursday, January 18, 2018

Ranger in Time #7: Interior Illustrations

On Wednesday I told you about designing the cover for Ranger in Time: D-Day: Battle on the Beach. Now I'm going to tell you about how I illustrated the 16 interior illustrations with help from a friend! Ranger in Time #7 features two main (human) characters: a Jewish-French boy named Leo and an American soldier named Walt. Walt is described as a tall, skinny African-American 16-year-old.

If you follow me on Facebook, you probably know my proclivity for posing for reference photos. I work on tight deadlines and rarely have the time to hire models, so I've become pretty good at posing in photos and then using my pose to draw an entirely different character. Here's a recent example that became somewhat popular on Twitter:

So when it came to the character of Walt, I started out by taking my own reference photos, as usual. But I quickly realized that transforming myself into a tall, black teenager was going to be very difficult and the result was probably not going to look great. It was time to find a model.

I contacted George Brooks, who is my friend and the creator of the webcomic Solving Xandra. I asked if he would be willing to pose for my illustrations and he agreed. Although he's not 16 years old, he has the perfect look for the character of Walt!

George and I live in different states so we had to do this remotely. First, I drew a sketch of the each of Walt's scenes. I sketched him in very roughly, just enough so that George would know how to pose. I included some notes for him on what his expression should look like and what camera angle I needed. Here's one of the sketches I sent.

Next, George took the photos as requested.

Next, using the photo reference, I did a more complete sketch and sent it in to the art director at Scholastic for feedback.

If the art director asked for any revisions I did them. Once the sketch was approved, I went to final.

And that's how a webcomic artist ended up on the beach at Normandy.

We did this for 8 different illustrations. I gotta say, George was ENORMOUSLY helpful and did a great job with his photo references, especially considering how little I gave him to work with. Even though this was a bit of a multi-step process, it made my job so much easier. I wish I could show you guys all the illustrations, but that would be giving away too much of the book!

Ok ok ok ok. Since I like you guys so much, I'll do one more!

On the back of every Ranger book, there's a color drawing of the main characters hugging Ranger. The publisher actually says to me every time, "just draw them looking cute."

So here was the sketch I sent to George.

Here's the photo George sent me:

I used that photo to finish up the sketch and then I sent to the publisher:
Once it was approved I finished the illustration.

I love how this turned out!

Maybe you're wondering why I didn't hire a model for the other character, Leo. Two reasons. One is that I don't know any kids of the right age, or any parents who have kids the right age, and it's kind of hard to get kids to model for you. Secondly, by this point I've drawn a lot of kids so it's not so difficult for me to draw. For Leo, I did my usual thing of combining drawing from imagination and an amalgamation of photos of kids of the right age and ethnicity, as well as photos of children from the appropriate time period.

If you'd like even more of a sneek peak at the book, Scholastic put together this little trailer:

Ranger in Time: D-Day: Battle on the Beach comes out on January 30, 2018!


  1. Kelley! It's a-me, again! Just popping in for a sec to tell you how much I love your art, how much of an inspiration you are and what a wonderful treat this blog is. The illustrations are beyond awesome (getting better and better, to be honest) and your texts are always witty and funny. The last ilustration, with Walt and Ranger and Leo is just amazing. Ranger reminds me of my dog, Lancelot, so that's a bonus I guess :)
    Keep up the great work! Best wishes

    1. Thank you very much, Augustina! I'm really glad to hear that my blog is inspiring to you. This is why I write it!


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