The book is full of birds and will be vetted by ornithologists, so I have to get the birds right. So my first stage was drawing birds, tons and tons of birds.
This is the stage where several things happen. First, I changed the leaves. Second, I added atmospheric elements. But probably most importantly, I softened up the bird. Because, while I want the bird to be correct, I don't want the book to be so tightly drawn that it looks too realistic. If I wanted that, I could just take pictures. I want my artistic, illustrative hand to come into play, to stylize things. This is how I hope I'll find the happy medium between being anatomically correct for the ornithologists and artistically inspired for myself.
But wait, I'm not done yet! Again, to balance the anatomically correct birds, I really needed to use some photo reference for the people. So, I arranged a photo shoot. Well, I tried to arrange a photo shoot. What ended up happening was quite off the cuff.
A friend from studio agreed to pose for the father figure - Antti. For the boy? I walked out of the College of Art to the sidewalk as kids were heading home from the George Heriot school. (Yes, that's the one that supposedly inspired Harry Potter.) As luck would have it, a mom and her son of about the right age were walking by. I asked if he'd mind posing, with mom's permission, and VOILA! And yes, his name is Harry! Here's the pose for this layout. The binoculars were cans of spray mount.