Born to be Giants SketchesThis entry was posted on the Mackids Blog last week, but I wanted to re-post it here so I could include larger images--click on any of the images below to see the larger versions. One of the challenges I enjoyed about this book was capturing the immense difference in size between baby dinosaurs and their parents. I started the illustration process by sketching loose thumbnail sketches, exploring different compositions to convey the scale of dinosaurs.
Pencil Sketches(Written by Dave) We were just updating several of the pages on Lita's website and thought we'd post a few pencil sketches. These are part of a story that's currently percolating. (Click on any of the images to see them larger)
Creative Process: Developing Characters -- Part 3Continuing the discussion on developing characters in my picture books, I wanted to mention the importance of secondary characters. All characters that appear in my stories are important, even if they aren't the main characters of the story. I gather reference, do complete sketches, and then do color studies for these minor characters. Sometimes they only appear once in the book. But their role is crucial. They must have the same sense of life—the same uniqueness—as the main characters. Here is a short series, sketches to final art, of five figures (including the dogs) who appear in "Pennies for Elephants." The role of the husband and wife, the "Snooty Couple", is to ignore the little paper boy. Their gestures and clothes wordlessly portray people who aren't interested in what the little boy is saying. Even their dog can't be bothered to notice the paper boy's dog. These characters add some humor. And even though they have no dialog, they convey meaning just by their attitude.
Creative Process: Developing Characters -- Part 2For the second part to my series on developing characters, I thought I'd discuss the process of developing my animal characters for Pennies for Elephants. As I mentioned before, this book takes place in Boston, 1914. I demonstrated how I developed my little girl in the first part. This story also has three elephant characters. The children in the story are painted in a style which is not realistic, but rather reminiscent of an old fashioned style. Because they weren't realistic, my elephants couldn't be realistic either. I needed to make them slightly anthropomorphic to fit with the style of the children, but still real enough so my readers feel they were true characters. I started as I always do by gathering reference. I found an elephant named Dinde, and her trainer was happy to work with me. Dinde did tricks and took poses that I needed for the book. And since the characters in my book got to ride elephants... so did I! That's the best part of creating my characters - immersing myself into the role so I can bring life to my sketches. After working with Dinde, I was ready to begin sketching. I did hundreds, searching for the proper style to fit the children in the book and finding enough expression in the elephants faces to bring them to life. The sketches often start very crude and simple, then slowly build in character and detail. Once sketches are done and I have found the style that works, I am ready to begin painting!
Creative Process: Developing Characters -- Part 1As part of my series on creative process I thought I'd share, over my next three entries, how I develop my characters for a picture book story. The first character is a little girl named Dorothy in my book Pennies for Elephants (due out next spring). The book is set in Boston 1914. I wanted to create a sense of nostalgia with the book and with the characters. I also wanted it to be a younger story, not as realistic as One Thousand Tracings -- that meant developing a new style for depicting my figure work. I find it's actually easier when I do work that's realistic, because I just hire a model and paint what I see, but for this book I worked to develop a style which captured the proper mood and period of the book. I began by looking at examples of illustrators from the early 1900's to immerse myself in the period. I also looked through clothing catalogs to see what people wore. Then I drew lots of sketches! Hundreds of drawings of children. My style swung from too representational to overly cartoony. I experimented with putting different types of clothes on my characters, and used different gestures to create the personality I wanted. At last, I started focusing on the look of my character. But the work wasn't done. Translating a pencil drawing into a painting is often the most difficult step for me. There are still decisions to be made in the final paintings that the pencil drawing doesn't cover. How could I paint my character to capture the flavor of fun and nostalgic early 1900's. I did a series of color studies, experimenting with different colors to capture the right mood. I also experimented with different qualities of line and paint to find the right balance of emphasizing the getup of my little girl through line, but softening the look so the art felt warm and inviting. I did all these steps before the manuscript was even complete. Because I'm so visual, I often need to get my character down on paper as an illustration before I can complete the writing. After I 'm happy with the look and personality of my character in the illustration, I can move toward finishing the story.