The Wizard Of Oz, Kjersten-Style, From Sketch to Final Art: Dorothy meets the Cowardly Lion

This past summer I took part in the Nevada SCBWI mentor program. My assignment for the program was to illustrate three scenes from The Wizard Of Oz, interpreting the story however I wished. The program finished with a fantastic retreat in Virginia City where I had the opportunity to share my final original art with my mentor and fellow mentees (I loved that I got to see my peers' work after they had gone through the same process -- so fun and interesting!). The following is an abbreviated walk-through of parts of my process as I presented it to them. 


The Text:
From Chapter VI of the Wizard of Oz: The Cowardly Lion :
"Don't you dare to bite Toto! You ought to be ashamed of yourself, a big beast like you, to bite a poor little dog!"
"I didn't bite him," said the Lion, as he rubbed his nose where Dorothy had hit it.
"No, but you tried to," she retorted. "You are
nothing but a big coward."
This is a revised thumbnail I based the final drawing on:

The First Drawing:
To prevent my drawings from stiffening too much along the journey from drawing to cut-out collage I piece together my drawings in photoshop.
This allows me to use the freshest sketches I can as templates when I cut my final art. It allows me to size the characters and other elements of the drawing right without redrawing or tracing them a lot.
Often I'll draw the characters first, scan them into photoshop and re-size them so they are proportional to one another. Then I draw the background separately and piece it together in photoshop.
  • I changed the Scarecrow and tin-man's poses. While I liked their poses in my first draft, they kind of looked like they were watching a play or resting, rather than being scared of the lion or crumpled on the ground. Plus my third scene had them crumpled on the ground and I wanted variety. I decided to try more active poses. Here's a sketch of the scarecrow in a more active pose that I didn't use for the final drawing:
  • In the end I changed the poses but kept the focus of the action on the relationship between the lion and Dorothy. I thought if I got too dramatic with the tin-man and scarecrow, it would take focus away from the main characters in the scene.
The Final Drawing:
Making the Final Art:

On Risks and Revision in the final stages of work:
Notice how the greenery changes in the last couple of frames of this photo sequence. Occasionally when I "finish" a piece I decide something I did with the background (that's already glued down) needs to be changed. It can be tricky to peel up one paper in favor of a change --and scary --what if it doesn't work?

Defense one:
I've worked with paper enough making my handmade books over the course of the last decade that I generally can tell when I can get away with it or not. So knowing my medium is defense one.

And if it indeed hadn't worked?
Defense two:
Problem solving and brain-storming.
Being creative does not only mean drawing pretty pictures. It also means creatively solving problems.

It's exciting (and terrifying) to take a risk when a piece is almost finished. But my job is to make my illustrations the best that they can be. Sometimes to make things the best you have to take scary risks. You have to know your medium well enough (through lots of practice) to have a good idea of when those risks are worth it. Then you have to know your medium well enough to be able to problem-solve and brainstorm when a risk goes awry and new challenges presents themselves.

Final Collage:
I listened to the audio versions of The Hunger Games, and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins while I made this illustration. I can't look at that forest without thinking of those books. Do you ever listen to books on tape that influence your art?

P.S. I made two other Wizard of Oz illustration samples as part of the mentor program. Here are links to posts about the process for those scenes:
Scene I
Scene III