Monday, August 31, 2015

On with the Snow!


 Snow comes very early here. But that's a normal climate change in Illustrationville. Last week it was really good packing snow. I was fortunate again to illustrate a cover for Hal Leonard's music students' magazine. For this piece I used traditional media: pastels and colored pencil on mi-tientes paper, with only a small bit of photoshop for cleaning and color adjustments. White pastel works well to capture the effect of snow as long one is lucky in choosing the color of the paper.  I have a drawer full of unused and partially used pastel paper and often go through it several times, testing the pastels on small swatches before settling on a color. The title was hand lettered on a separate layer. The sketch took part of a day, the finished art another day (and some of the night).  "There's no business like snow business....."



Monday, August 24, 2015

The Secret Files of a Presidential Illustration Liaison

What??!! OH NO!!!

  Rarely have I fallen behind in my blogging this long! The time lapse is due to lots of work.   
This summer was largely devoted to illustrating a reader for Penguin Random House.  I had some other projects during that time which I have yet to post as well, so I'll be hoping to catch up on some blogging this week. 

   I had previously illustrated two others books for this publisher featuring the same characters for their Step into Reading imprint. 
This book, How NOT to run for Class President, is for kids who can read paragraphs.  It will be released next spring. 
   A brief synopsis: 
  Will is reluctantly running for class president against his more qualified classmate Chelsea.  He is unexpectedly embarrassed by the enthusiastic but unsolicited campaign advice of  Steve, his younger brother, who enlists the grass-roots support of his kindergarten friends.  Hijinks and mayhem ensue, pets invade, and ultimately Chelsea wins. Will learns some lessons in the process yet Steve remains irrepressible. 

  Despite the chaos, I am confident that all of these characters, including the animals, are more qualified than some of the current candidates for president of this country (which will remain unnamed) .

  Here are some of my favorites from the 29 illustrations.


 "Why don't you run, Will?"

Chelsea is  running on a platform of reading to the kindergarteners.

Will thinks that's a bad idea.

Professional campaign posters, courtesy of Steve.

  Steve promises: " If you vote for Will, you can bring your pets to school!"


Principal Smiley fails at crowd control.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Follow your Smart Little Nose

  I almost forgot to post this cover illustration from a few months back. There's often a lag between the time I create the work and get a sample of the printed piece.  Sometimes it's like a surprise in the mail. It's so nice to get a physical sample of the work; especially when there are real mazes inside.. lots of them! Everyone wants  to wander around and try to find their way back home sometimes.  I want to be the prairie dog with the hot tub. I want to be him really, really bad. You have no idea how much.  I also want a baby grand, and I'd like more time to read. I guess I've given these dogs the chance to live the life I've always wanted.  They'll have to work for it, but they'll thank me someday.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Chaos Revisited

   It's like going back in time! I get to illustrate another reader for Random House featuring this kinder-terrorist and his mortified, long-suffering third grade brother. This was one of two that I illustrated around 8 years ago. They're picking up the crazy thread again. This time around it will be "How NOT to Run for Class President".  Elections are messy things by nature.
 I'm pleased to say the incumbent is a girl and (spoiler alert) wins the election. Of course.
 Here's a sampling of illustrations from the last book. It's available here.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Table for Two

Fancy clothes and high class establishments with cheese tables. That's what mice deserve. 
A recently completed spot for a cracker recipe page in High Five magazine. 
 Watercolor, pastel, colored pencil and photoshop. Kelley Cunningham, art director.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Wing It

There are only 18 days until spring, although here in Ohio we don't believe it. There may be some hope after all, as the sun is shining today, and the cats are jockeying for position to claim the one and only sunspot. I really want to believe spring will come, I really do. The baby birds must be chirping somewhere.
  It's always a pleasure to work with Hal Leonard. This art will be used on a cover of a musical for kids. I liked creating the title lettering as well. I find it really satisfying to be able to work on the integration of the type and illustration.  
  I felt like using traditional media: pastels on sanded pastel paper. Photoshop was employed for some touch-up and the placing and dropshadow of the title. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Superhero Style

  I was fortunate once again to work with Red Chair Press in 2014. The illustrations for this book were completed in November.  Red Chair Press puts a lot of heart into their books and each one carries a specific message to help kids navigate a confusing and sometimes hostile world.
  This guide to dealing with bullies provides some tools to transform even the most intimidated kids into voices of truth and justice. At least we can hope.
 Zack is a mild-mannered kid (just like you) who becomes a protective champion when he witnesses a kid being bullied.  His superpowers are simply what all kids can access themselves: words and the courage to speak them.  And oh yeah, he does get to fly around wearing a cape and rainboots and multiply himself for dramatic effect.
  This book gave me the chance to work with character development, staging and movement. It was especially fun getting into the poses.  Figuratively speaking, of course.
 Here are some scenes from the 23 page reader.


More zipping around ensues... and then...

 Here he goes again multiplying himself...

 A bit of behind the scenes process:

 I began all of the pages as traditional drawings:  graphite pencil and white pencil on toned paper. This established the underlying values. And it meant I could work on them out on the porch on nice days.

Plus, I like having the physical artwork. Who knows... maybe I can sell these. Anyone interested?

 I scanned the art and lightened the tone and tinted the greys to a warmer color. 

Here I began adding photoshop color and a sky layer for the cover. I was digging the moody dystopic look of this but ultimately the designer, Jeffrey Dinardo, and I agreed it needed to be brighter.

 I compared both versions. 
The first sky looked too much like evening. He wouldn't be avenging bullies at night !
 After all, he's a kid (just like you).

Like all good books there is a happy ending...