Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Sleepover with Beatrice and Bear | Delivering The Final Art

And so it arrives, one of the best days of the whole book publishing process, especially for illustrators -- delivery of the final art! Since I live close to New York City, I get to deliver the art in person: what a treat -- I get to see my editor Nancy Paulsen and art director Cecilia Yung and visit the Penguin building in Lower Manhattan.  I remember when I did it for the first time with Little Dog Lost, that day is still so vivid in my memory. It was glorious!

The same was true with Sleepover with Beatrice and Bear.  I take a day off from my day job at the library and head off to the train station.  The art is all prepared: each spread labeled, covered with mylar, in a sturdy art bag.  Once I get to Penn Station it is a quick subway trip and soon I'm standing in the lobby for the offices of Penguin Young Readers Group.  There are bookshelves with some of their books displayed, all imprints, and look what I saw on the shelf:

After getting in we head to a conference room and display all the art around a table, so we can see it from page one to page 32.  Here are Nancy Paulsen and Cecilia Yung helping me set all the art in sequence on the table:

Other Penguin employees are invited to come as well, and take a peek -- it's a lovely opportunity to meet other people who will be working together on our book: publicists, library marketing, as well as other editors, etc.  

Afterwards we go out to lunch and have a fantastic time!

To read other entries in this series just go to Character DevelopmentFrom Storyboard to Final Art, and Book Cover.
Next we will talk about the other best day for an author/illustrator: publication day!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sleepover with Beatrice and Bear | Book Cover

Book covers are the first thing people notice about a book, be it at a bookstore, at the library or even online.  A book cover needs to be attractive and eye-catching, pique one's interest with a glimpse of what the story is about while at the same time keeping readers guessing how it will develop. It should make one wants to get the book, browse, take it home. 

Interesting enough, book covers are usually the last piece of artwork produced when working on the final art.  A lot of thinking goes into the making of a book cover, so valuable input comes from many sources: editorial, art direction and design, publicity and marketing.  Titles can also change in the process, which means new covers need to be created.

The title for Sleepover with Beatrice and Bear went through a number of changes.  At one point, it was called The Great Hibernators -- below is a rough sketch for a possible cover:

I was lucky to be working with book designer Annie Ericsson: a book designer has a profound effect on a book and especially on the cover.  She picked the type fonts, put together the jacket (front and back covers, spine, front and back flaps) and came up with what I think is just the perfect cover for this story, don't you think?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

One Spread: From Storyboard to Final Art

When I started working on the final art for Sleepover with Beatrice and Bear, I had big plans to document every step so that I could share the progress afterwards.  It didn't quite work as well as I had hoped: once I started painting (and re-painting) it was hard to remember to stop and take pictures. Also when working on deadline, the need to make sure paintings got done by a certain date/time would take precedence over everything else.  Before I knew it, I had skipped taking breaks to photograph my progress.

But I did manage to document one spread in detail.  It's one of those happy cases where the very first tiny sketch, done for the storyboard, remained basically the same throughout the work.  Here it is as a 1 x 2 inch doodle: Beatrice and Bear saying goodnight and going sleep:

Next came a larger sketch, better suited for the dummy, done with a bit more detail:

I sometimes photocopy pages from the dummy to test colors -- the paper is not really suited for watercolor painting, but it helps me to see whether the colors I'm envisioning work or not and to try different color combinations:

Now for the final painting, which was done on Fabriano 140 hot press paper.  I used a light box to transfer the sketch to the watercolor paper, and did the outline first, with a brush and Winsor & Newton black India ink.  I erased all pencil marks and then started painting using Sennelier watercolors and Prismacolor pencils to add texture and/or shading.

It's kind of cool to see it like this, from little doodle to final art.  Next we will talk book covers!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Sleepover with Beatrice and Bear | Character Development

Working on a picture book takes time -- lots of time -- for everyone involved: author/illustrator, agent, editor, art director, book designer, marketing team, etc.  It is a VERY collaborative effort so publication dates mean a whole lot to many, many people.

August 7th is pub date for Sleepover with Beatrice and Bear (Yay!), so I thought I would use this month to talk a bit more about the making of the book.  In an earlier post I talked about story development and working on storyboards.  Now let's talk a bit about character development: working on poses, expressions, colors, etc.

I typically have a lot of pieces of paper with small drawings and studies for each character, color combinations, etc.  I need to write things down, otherwise I may not remember how to maintain the same color scheme.  I paint the pages out of sequence, so I will usually need to recreate the same color used days or weeks before and -- believe me -- it's easy to forget.  If something works, write it down.  There are happy accidents, and sometimes you want to make sure you can make them happen again.

Next time, I'll be discussing working on a page from storyboard to final painting.  See you soon!