Thursday, August 28, 2008

Benjamin Button Art, Part I.

Benjamin Button Art, Part I.

Autographed Benjamin Buttons

With enough of you bibliophiles seemingly interested in owning an autographed copy of Benjamin Button, I've made them available in the store for pre-order. So feel free to order yourself a copy. But, if you need some art to get your book-owning juices aroused, then by all means continue reading.

The Light Of Day

As I have mentioned before, I did quite a lot of research and drawing for Benjamin Button. Originally, some of this art was to be included in the book itself. But as it turns out, we didn't really have enough room. Luckily, this website is a fine venue for the Showing of Things, and so today I figured I'd share some of the concept art.

Benjamin Button Concept Art

One of the first problems I tackled when I started work on the book was designing Benjamin. On the surface, this seemed difficult. The story bounces between moments of humor, and moments of sadness, and for the most part, the old Benjamin was designed for comedic value, but as he... uh... youngened he needed to be dashing and handsome, able to convey callousness and vanity, yet still be likeable.

So what I did first was design an old, rather grumpy and odd-looking Benjamin, and then age that character backwards. I lucked out in that I was very happy with the results early on, and didn't need to really explore much further than the Benjamins you see above.

Benjamin Button Concept Art

When I was approached by Quirkbooks, they already knew they wanted the final art in watercolor, Lester, Bow & Fiddle being the prime example of the style. This scared the crap out of me, chiefly because a graphic novel composed of such tight watercolors would take me... oh... seventeen years. But after talking it out, we agreed to sort of a watercolor/pencil hybrid style. Knowing that, I wanted to work up the roughs in a style that was quick, but would also allow the Quirkbooks staff to see how it could translate to watercolor. The page above is really just me practicing that rough style, before any work was done.

Benjamin Button Concept Art

My favorite part of the concept art process, without a doubt, is creating characters. Here's a smattering of portraits for various book characters. Truth be told, I rarely had an opportunity to draw characters with such detail as you see here; the small format really only gave me enough room for a pair of dark eye sockets, a shadow under the nose, and a mouth in most panels. But still, it's best to have a fully fleshed-out character which you then simplify when it comes to the actual panel art.

Benjamin Button Concept Art

As I also mentioned before, I had to spend a lot of time researching period dress. The page above explores some of those different eras. Of particular interest to me when I was doing research was seeing how drastically women's fashion seemed to change around that 1910 era. Makes me think that there's still a chance we might all be wearing unisex silver jumpsuits by 2010, like they predicted in the fifties. Fingers crossed!

Comments on this Article

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You always make me want to buy a set of watercolors

Mark Benson

Kevin, it's fascinating to have this unique insight into your creative process. Thanks for sharing these character concepts.

Design Monkey

Beautiful stuff. I'll be ordering a copy, assuming you'll ship to the far reaches of humanity…


Fabulous work Kevin. Got my order in and can't wait to see it. Thanks!


Bravo. Fantastic. Even though I don't know how to read, I'm getting this book.

Cliener von Cleanskin

Excellent! Now I’m glad I to be suffering the (temporary) financial deprivation that prevented me from immediately pre-ordering from Amazon.


Hah! Reading the title alone I was looking for "buttons". I thought you'd made buttons or something. Pfft. I'm digging the 1912 ladies with holes for eyes and a nose. Looks kinda horrorific; like an era-specific 'Silent Hill' theme or something.


Really cool character designs. I like the feel with the watercolour style.


Stunning work as always!

Glindon Marten

The life you're able to give to your drawings is pretty incredible. I just ordered a copy of the book. Looking forward to reading it!


Mork - And you always make me think of Robin Williams.

Mark - Glad it held some interest!

Design Monkey - Well, I can't ship to space. Are you one of those space capsule monkeys?

Greg - My pleasure!

Ian - I've seen you read before. You must have spent all day with the Erotic Tales of Southern California book.

Cliener Von Cleanskin - Hooray for being financially strapped!

Jedediah - All the ladies wanted to look terrifying back in 1912. It was all the rage in Paris.

Parka - The next batch of concept art actually has a lot more watercolor ;D

Shane - Thanks!

Glindon - I shall make sure you get one of the copies with words - it's best for reading!


Hmmm, silver jumpsuit. That would suit the sunshine and heat of my nomadic desert lifestyle... but it'll also make me a good target for all my rival desert tribes...

Then again, Space Cowboys don't cry.


Oh... they cry. You just can't hear tears in space.


It's too bad they didn't include some of this stuff in the finished book. It would have been really cool -- like a behind the scenes dvd featurette. In fact, you should record your commentary so people can play it while reading the book.

el chaneke

please, sell a book whit this sketches, they are amazing


Fab work! I dunno about those silver jumpsuits, though. I imagine they'd make me look like a giant baked potato and that's just freaky. My vision of what garments the far-distant future will bring involve virtual reality hologram clothing: program your preferred appearance, body type, clothing, and viola!
Technology has a long way to go before it realises its full potential ....


Aw man. I just got an email from Amazon telling me that my copy is on the way, and now I see you're selling autographed copies here. Maybe I'll need to buy two!


Sutter - Most of that commentary would be... "Here's where I started panicking about the deadline... oh, and here's where I berated myself for faking the bottom parts of a wagon..."

El Chaneke - Haha - I'm afraid I don't have enough for a companion book. But that would have been a fun idea :)

Phyllis - I certainly hope that's not in the far-distant future... it might be the only chance I'd ever get for abs.

Imaginary - Yeah, I wasn't planning to even do pre-orders, but then for some reason Amazon started shipping the books way ahead of the scheduled sell date, so I put the book in my store. Sorry - I tried my best to avoid such problems!


Hot diggitty! My copy arrived today and it is gravely damaged. It looks like someone had at it with a ball-pean hammer! No, it wasn't me. Anyway, this gives me just cause to return it and order from you!


I bought my copy from "Oscars Art Books" in Vancouver, and I just have to say- really well done! Out of curiosity, have you hidden anything within the pictures, say, a weiner dog or socky monkey?


There are INDEED many hidden things in the book. A good deal of them call back to the themes of "backwards" or "time". But there's a couple instances where I couldn't resist adding things related to my own life... like a dachshund... or not necessarily Mojo, but a few Mojo-related things.

I might share some of this stuff some other time. We'll see ;)

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