The great folks at Highlights magazine entrusted me with the cover for their August issue – a true honor.
A cover assignment starts with written art direction and it went something like this: We are looking for a mixed group of kids diving for colorful pool rings, w/fun perspective.
My next step was NOT going to a pool--it was January, after all. Instead, I searched Google images for underwater pool scenes, swim goggles, swim trunks, swim suits, pool linings, pool rings, public pools, lifeguard stands… you get the idea. Looking at relevant images inspired ideas and helped me capture a believable underwater scene.
The basic composition came together pretty quickly but I spent a lot of time tweaking the different elements. Dramatic foreshortening is tricky and that took some time. I drew that foreground hand (and ring) several times, making it bigger and bigger until making it any larger would have overwhelmed the rest of the scene.
Making an underwater scene look convincing is challenge. For a while, the kids looked as if they were flying. The undulating spiderweb of reflected light that appears along the water's surface (and the sides and bottom of the pool) went a long way to sell the effect. Of course, bubbles were also a key detail and the rope with floaters helped delineate the surface of the water. Also, the two background swimmers have a subtle blue cast that you'd expect from atmospheric (aquaspheric?) perspective.
I hope the final illustration captures the joy of a hot August day!
Thanks for visiting!