Friday, February 6, 2015

A House Divided

Here are a couple of illustrations I just finished up for Boys' Life Magazine. They are for an historical fiction piece about a young man that witnesses the surrender of Lee and his troops to the forces of General U.S. Grant at Appomattox Court House. In the first spread, The young man is captured by Union troops when he tries to catch a glimpse of General Grant on the eve of the surrender.

I thought the most dramatic moment of the story was when he is captured and interrogated at bayonet point. Since the moment in question takes place  in the late evening, I wanted to focus on making strong silhouettes of the figures. I proposed two options of this idea to the art director. One had a low angle and the other was slightly from above looking down. After some discussion, I was given the go ahead with the top option.

The second spot illustration depicts the young man as an eavesdropping on the moment when U.S. Grant accepts the Confederate surrender from General Lee. I wanted the composition to reflect that Lee was backed into a corner.

By placing him behind the doorway, cropping him on the left  and placing a picture frame and shadow above him, he is effectively trapped within the composition as he signs the surrender papers. Grant on the other hand is seen full figure and leans forward expectantly but respectfully. Period pieces are always a challenge, mostly on the research and costuming end of things.

I spent some time finding pictures of Lee and Grant and I also found a great Union Soldier costume I was able to rent for a few days for the reference photos on the first spread. I combined details from all of these sources to arrive at the finished piece. Unlimited time and budget would have been nice, but given the deadline and resources, I am pretty pleased with the results. 


Amy said...

I am sure your clients appreciate your research efforts! I love the design choice you made in the piece with Grant and Lee. Very effective!

Greg Newbold said...

Thanks Amy! Sometimes the concepts just beg for a thoughtful solution, and fortunately, I felt like I found one.