Princess Sun is Done!

I hate gift registries. I can never find a gift in my price range and I usually end up wasting so much time and energy trying to find something suitable for the happy couple that I am a pretty grumpy customer. So I decided early on that when my friends got married I wasn’t going to have any of that gift registry crap. If I’m going to spend time and energy on a gift for my friends’ wedding gifts, I’m going to give them something truly spectacular. So was born the tradition of creating a custom illustrated poem to give to my close friends upon their marriage.

One of my dearest friends (like a sister that I never had to me) is getting married soon and so it was time to create yet another of my illustrated poems. I knew about the wedding since October and had worked on some ideas briefly over the holidays, but due to other commitments wasn’t able to get started until about February/March of this year.

The poem gave me a bit of a challenge early on, but it proved to be the easy part. Now that I had the poem complete I could begin work on the illustration! I first had to secretly acquire photos of the couple-to-be from her sister. No problemo. I got the pics and began sketching. I start out trying to capture a realistic version of the person first then simplify it down for my style.

My friend’s husband-to-be was easy, I got his illo nailed on the second try. My friend, however, turned out to be more of a challenge. I tried sketching from several different photos and even just parts of photos to try to capture her likeness. No luck. Time was growing very short and projects were piling up was I was trying to sketch out my friend. As you can see in these images, I just wasn’t “getting it”.

So I did what any good illustrator would do: I put the project down and went on to another project. When I came back to this illustration (and it wasn’t long after I put it down due to my timeline), I decided to try a different approach. I went straight into the simplified illo in my style. While I don’t think it is perfect, I do believe it does capture the essence of my friend’s personality (and that is the point, these illustrated poems are intended to be fairy tales, not exact duplicates of reality).

Now the huge hurdle: I had no idea what kind of layout/environment to put these two people into! My friend is a huge Art Deco and Edward Hopper fan, so I looked there for inspiration. I had a great poster on my wall that might do the trick, so I sketched it up for inspiration.

But it was missing something. Something important. Then it hit me, sunflowers! My friend loves sunflowers and since it is one of the symbols of the sun, a field of sunflowers could be her domain!

Now that I was getting somewhere, I determined that Celtic-style clothing would work best as my friend is of Irish descent. I did my research and came up with what I feel were suitable garments for the princess and her prince. I added a Celtic cross to the man to reflect his Catholic faith and I added a moon pendant to Princess Sun to represent her sister.

I didn’t have the hands figured out, but I needed to get this illo done, so I just forged ahead and put it all into Illustrator as is. I got the file built, but the hands were still an issue. So I printed out what I had so far and began to sketch hands in different positions. I finally found the solution: Princess Sun’s hand would be over the pendant (to reflect her close bond with her sister), and the Prince’s hand would be on the Princesses’ arm to reflect how all three are now connected. Bingo!

I finished my digital inking and laying out flat color in Illustrator and then I pulled everything into Photoshop where I added the textures and lighting to complete the illustration. Here’s the final illo that I ended up getting done with a week to spare…. 🙂

The text of the poem reads:
Princess Sun
Princess Sun and her sister,
Princess Moon,
Shared the vast sky.

They shone their brilliant light
Upon the world.
Princess Sun loved her sister,
But she was still lonely.

Searching for the love
She saw blossoming
All around.
Her brilliance began to fade
As time and hope faded.

Until one day
A glimmer caught her eye
And she turned to see
Her true love
(©2008 Nicholas J. Nawroth, all rights reserved.)

To my dear friends, Reb and Matt, may your wedding day be beautiful and your marriage long and fruitful!