The Purple Cow



Recently I was hired by Benchmark Education to illustrate a short children’s book called The Purple Cow. Not to be confused with the best seller by Seth Godin, this story is an epic saga about a cow that gives grape juice instead of milk.

The client gave me a great deal of editorial freedom so I decided to stretch myself and try something different. I created all the art as vectors in Illustrator (usually I use Photoshop) and tried for a very flat, cut-out look that emphasized shape over line. Also, instead of flat color in some areas I used some scanned textures I had on file. For example, I think the grass is actually a corduroy fabric that I color-shifted to green.

Because of the deadline I sketched the layouts very quickly, which oddly enough gave me wackier and more appealing shapes than I think I would have achieved had I slowed down and overthought it.

Above is a two-page spread, a one page illo, and a spot. The white areas were left blank for text, but I’ve inserted a copyright notice in an effort to protect the images online. Also, for some reason when I saved the art for the web the colors got very washed out (at least on my monitor). In the original files the colors are much richer and easier to read.

Overall I really like this flat vector look. The only problem with vector art is that you spend so much time pushing and pulling vector points that after a while you aren’t really drawing or painting, you’re just shoving things around. So I haven’t decided yet if I’ll be doing a lot more of this or not. It’s fast and effective but I would miss the fluid feel of drawing and painting.