Illustration of a Black WWI Doughboy.

My last post was on the Afro-Mexicano experience. Here is something about a little-known African American experience. The wonderful thing about being an illustrator is researching fascinating new things. -K.Mc


Chad Williams is coming to Kutztown to talk about African American soldiers in World War I. I got to illustrate the poster. First thing I did was visit Dr. Williams’ website Torchbearers of Democracy. His book of the same name has won some serious awards. I was surprised to learn 380,000 black soldiers were involved in that war. Next I did a Google image search for statues of black WWI soldiers and found Chicago’s Victory Monument. Generally, public sculptures are in the public domain. Though I am doing an unpaid project for educational event, I never want to knowingly violate another artist’s copyright.

From courtesy Jack Foley.
From courtesy Jack Foley.

I used several reference photos including some from tour guide Jack Foley’s super site on Chicago history,

Victory Monument, Chicago, courtesy Jack Foley.
Victory Monument, Chicago, courtesy Jack Foley.

That gear bag on the soldier’s chest would hold his gas mask. Trench warfare in the First World War was horrific for the use of poison gases, the original weapons of mass destruction. I did a rapid india ink brush drawing of a soldier rushing forward, bayonet at ready. I simplified his uniform and ditched the gas mask pack. Then I scanned the ink drawing into Photoshop and added a sepia tone.

My india ink drawing with a digital wash of sepia tone.
India ink drawing with a “digital wash” Kevin McCloskey

Sometimes an illustrator needs a designer. Type is not my forte, so I asked another faculty member for assistance. She was swamped, but referred me to a talented design student who is interested in military history. It is my good fortune that junior John Woodward took time to design the poster below. He is a Communication Design major with concentrations in Advertising, Interactive and Graphic Design.

Poster design by KU CD student John Woodward
Poster design by KU CD student John Woodward

Thanks to John Woodward’s design for making my illustration look good. The info is clear on the poster. You are invited to hear Dr. Chad Williams if you are in the area on April 1. Should be fascinating.

2 thoughts on “Illustration of a Black WWI Doughboy.

  1. This is wonderful and captures the essence and spirit of the lecture. I commend you and John Woodward for creating such a visually pleasing poster or better stated, WORK OF ART.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: