It's a lonely life...that of the necromancer, er freelancer

A blog by a designer and illustrator, for designers and illustrators which may contain musings on art, movies and random weirdness.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Welcome to Salem:1630

Some of you may know that I am an avid history buff, and that I have on occasion, worked as an historical interpreter at Pioneer Village at Forest River Park in Salem. Pioneer Village is a recreation of what Salem would have looked like in 1630, shortly after it was settled. My wife Amy and I have been extras in several historical films that have been shot at this location over the years. I came across a photo of the two of us in early colonial costume and decided it would make a good illustration.
Here is the original photo.

First I did a pencil sketch of the scene using the above photo as reference.

As you can see, I have changed some of the details of the pose and of the outfits.
The scene looked a little empty to me though, and some details were either missing or incorrect. First off I decided the scene needed some animals. I considered adding goats, geese and cattle, but it seems that the animals most likely to be present and running loose would have been hogs and chickens. Both were allowed to run free to find their own forage. The hogs were particularly fond of raiding Native American stores of corn. Now not just any breed of hogs or chicken would do either. they needed to be contemporary to the Puritans of the early 17th century. After some research, I discovered that the breed of hogs that the New England colonials would have had were known as Tamworth Hogs.

The chickens were a breed known as Dorking Fowls. Luckily both of these breeds are still in existence today and there were photos.

I also added in a wooden barrel, some tree stumps and a man cutting a tree with an ax.

I also needed to make my footwear more period-correct. I actually really enjoy researching this kind of historical detail.

I transferred the sketch some Bristol-board and started to rough in the values using burnt umber and black. This work went very quickly. I showed this version to my illustration critique group, and they actually thought I should stop there. They liked the energy and the rough quality. So I did a scan of the piece at that point.

However...I really like color, and had intended to add color from the beginning, and so I moved on to adding in color. Using glazes of color over the monochromatic underpainting. Here I am after my second session of painting.

Here is the final piece. The original is about 8" x 10".

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