Illustration for a YA Book Cover

A recent commission of mine was to make illustrations for a novel written by a middle school student. The student has ADHD and is also a gifted and eager writer. He writes insightfully about fitting in with middle school culture.

After reading some chapters and poems that comprise the book I decided to create a sketch for one poem that is set under a tree – its theme seemed to encompass the message of the book. I thought it could be used inside the book as a page illustration with the poem, and perhaps could be used for the cover as well.

I designed my rough pencil sketch looking down from above the main character under the tree, so it would work on a page and also with the title if needed. I hand-lettered the title with ink and brush.

The family of the author liked the image and wanted it for the cover, but thought some extra middle schoolers should be added. I drew a circle of friends separately –

and dropped them into the tree scene.

Then I colored the art digitally and reversed out the text – the finished book cover is below.

Poster Art for ‘The Sorcerer’ Musical

Every year I design the poster for the Bucks County Gilbert & Sullivan Society’s musical comedy and this year’s June operetta is Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Sorcerer. I love the wacky plot of this show, which is about a sorcerer in Victorian England who is asked to create a love potion that an entire town partakes of, with chaotic and comic results. It strikes me as singularly funny that instead of a cauldron like Shakespeare’s witches brew their potions in, this very proper society sorcerer brews his in a porcelain pot of tea!

I was lucky to be at an early costume fitting for the actor playing the title role, so I took photos of him in costume for reference when drawing, and they even had the large teapot that will be his prop in the show. I knew the kind of pose I wanted for the figure and started with pencil sketches –

I put some rough color on the sketched figure and placed him on the poster page, with the text that will go around him, based on previous posters, and drew in the background roughly with a digital gradation, markers & colored pencils, to get a rough design of the page.

I refined my line drawing of the figure and did more detail on the digital color –

I worked on the title logotype next, to shape it around the sorcerer’s arm & umbrella. I used a fun typeface called “Island of Misfit Toys, ” although I played with the letter shapes a bit, stretching and adding some curls, to balance things out.

I drew the cloud emanating from the teapot digitally and put the figure in place –

and then dropped in the title logotype and added some more magical swashes and particles circling the Sorcerer and the cloud, for the finished art.

This promises to be a terrific show, by the way, I recommend everyone comes to see it! Tickets go on sale April 15, through the website.

A Storyteller and his Neighborhood Book Project

A children’s book that I had a part in has been selected by Doylestown Bookshop to be part of their “Local Author Partnership Program”. It will be featured in the bookstore during the month of March, and I’d like to explain its unusual journey to publication.

I helped with this unique type of book project this past summer and fall. Professional storyteller Ray Gray asked me if I could help coordinate a children’s book idea that he had – to take one story out of his storytelling repertoire, have a group of children from his neighborhood illustrate the story, and put it all together into published book form.

It was delightful getting to know Ray, whose career in storytelling at schools, festivals, and performance venues reaches back to pre-digital technology days, when he had to haul props and his own audio and visual equipment that was rather ahead of its time. To prepare, he transcribed his children’s story “Ice Cream Mud” into a manuscript and I laid it out in book dummy form. His local neighborhood has many families with schoolchildren, and their parents were supportive of involving their kids in this project.

The parents and 8 or 10 children, ages approximately 7 to 13, were invited to Ray & his wife Nancy’s lovely home one evening to kick off the project. Ray told his story Ice Cream Mud, which was based on experiences with his son when he was young, with great emotion and humor to the children. Then I led them through questions about the main characters and how we might all draw the horse, donkey, goose and cow. The kids had fun choosing one identifying item of clothing for each animal – a top hat, an apron, etc. to make the characters unique and appealing. We gave each child drawing supplies and pages of the story, so each one had several scenes to illustrate. Since summer had just begun, we instructed the children to draw their pages through their summer vacation and we would gather together again in the fall to put everything together.

When all the artwork was completed I scanned the pieces and put the book together for printing through an online publisher. The final book is colorful and a delightful read, and is truly a community effort! I hope it inspires more stories and more drawings from these neighborhood kids as they grow, and from other children as they read this and imagine what they can create in story and pictures.

Again I’ll mention that Ice Cream Mud has been selected by Doylestown Bookshop to be part of their “Local Author Partnership Program”. It will be featured in the bookstore during the month of March. Make sure you stop in to see this positive one-of-a-kind creation!

My ‘Pirates of Penzance’ Poster Illustration

The Bucks County Gilbert & Sullivan Society is once again gearing up for one of the Victorian playwrights’ funniest, most lyrical and most popular creations, The Pirates of Penzance. I’m happy to again be illustrating the poster for this wonderfully fun musical. If you have ever heard the brilliant patter song I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General, this is the rambunctious show for which that song was written.

I started with a very rough pencil sketch of a group of the colorful characters – maidens, pirates, bobbies, the Major-General – in a classic triangle composition.

I defined the characters a bit more in the next sketch.

I scanned this sketch and did a rough colored pencil blocking in of the colors

I traced this drawing onto illustration board, outlined the characters and began to paint it in using acrylic washes.

And now the finished piece is dropped into the poster design, below. I hope you consider coming, this will be a terrific musical comedy!

Meal Kit Container Garden

#humor

Meal kits are very popular right now, especially among young couples in big cities – they are a subscription service that delivers a fully-stocked box full of raw food to your door in a refrigerated container, with instructions on how to cook all the ingredients into a delicious, almost gourmet dinner for two. And if the recipe calls for one stalk of celery, that’s exactly what they provide – one stalk, in a clear plastic sleeve, so there’s no scrap left. What, though, can be done with all the packaging that’s leftover? Well, since spring is just around the corner, I propose . . .

#gardening #mealkit #illustration #cartoon #containergarden #modernlife #urbangardening

Illustration and text (c) Pat Achilles

Cartoon for a New Year’s Postcard

Once again this year I was asked by Mary Lennon, of Lennon’s Small Jobs, to draw a cartoon related to her home maintenance business, to use in her New Year’s greeting to her customers. Mary’s new year’s postcards serve as a reminder to her clients that she’s just a phone call away, and that she appreciates their business.

Through the years we developed a penguin character that appears at a customer’s home igloo to fix some problem, and these are always home repairs that Mary does indeed perform frequently for her customers. This year’s involved wallpaper:

You can see some past cartoons here and here. Humor is a great strategy in helping people remember your business, and my little cartoon chuckles add humor to Mary’s reputation for dependable home maintenance.

If you’d like to chat about cartooning for your business promotions, please contact me!

Brochure Design for a Non-Profit

I recently redesigned the season brochure for the Bucks County Gilbert & Sullivan Society’s upcoming 2019 events. Given the outstanding photography by our resident photog Dennis Klöppel, and the excellent acting and colorful costuming our group puts together, it is a very good-looking promotional piece – take a look.

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The Society is a wonderful group of friendly and talented amateurs and professionals, and I highly recommend anyone interested to audition for their shows or come and hear the engaging music and delightful wit in every performance. You can keep apprised of upcoming events through their website or liking the group on Facebook.

I am available for design jobs such as this, please contact me through my Contact page on the menu above to chat about your company’s needs.

Logos for a Theater

The creative folks at TAFE (Theater Arts for Everyone, in York, PA) have decided on their 2019 season of shows, and requested I design a 2-color logo for each. The simplicity of the logos makes it easy for them to produce affordable t-shirts, with the logos imprinted, for the casts. (These logos are copyrighted; please contact me if you would like to lease them)

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Doylestown Symphonic Winds Poster

It is time for the annual – and magnificent – Doylestown Symphonic Winds concert at Delaware Valley University, and I was happy to once again create the poster for this year’s theme – Song and Dance. This delightful orchestra of brass and wind instruments, under the baton of music director Gina Lenox, assistant conductor Jack Schmidt and guest conductor Dr. Virginia Allen, will perform Lincolnshire Posy by Percy Grainger, as well as other wonderful symphonic pieces inspired by songs and dances. It is always a terrific concert, I’m really looking forward to it this Friday!

For this poster I made a rough pencil layout, then sketched folk dancers from research photos. While I sketched by hand, I ‘drew’ the final art graphically on the computer.

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