Monthly Archives: November 2010

Henry on the wine dark sea!

How fun is this? Henry & the Crazed Chicken Pirates has been translated into Greek!  Kudos to the designer who morphed my title lettering into Greek characters.

UPDATE—my friend Trip (who is a pastor and studied Greek in seminary) says that last word ∏EIPATE∑ is pronounced ‘pay-ee-rah-tays’.  Turns out ‘pirate’ is originally a Greek word, from the verb ‘peira’, to attempt or attack.

Color scripts

Painting a 32-page picture book is a huge time-consuming project.  When you’ve been coloring the same scenery and characters for 2 or 3 months the charm wears off.  This is dangerous, because it’s important for each image in the book to look as fresh & lively as every other one.

It’s best that all the coloring decisions be made before you start painting.  I used to do that by painting little color sketches of each image.  That method is a big help, but it doesn’t take into consideration all 32 pages.  When I did a color study for each painting, I was only thinking about that one painting.

Recently I stumbled across Lou Romano’s blog.  Lou worked on the Pixar movie Up as a color consultant.  His blog shows how he tells the movie’s story using a color script—a kind of storyboard with roughly-drawn images in color.  He uses color to create the mood of the scene, paying little attention to how well it’s drawn.

Copyright PIXAR

This is the bit where the old man’s life-story is told.  Look at how the colors change from happy and bright to gray and subdued—to reflect how that character’s life and mood have changed.

I think this is a perfect way to plan color for a picture book, as well.  Here are some color scripts I did for recent projects:

Pirates Go To School

Joe Bright and the Seven Genre Dudes

The Year without A Santa Claus

Dear Tyrannosaurus Rex

In Pirates Go To School and Dear Tyrannosaurus Rex, the narrative is simply a series of sight gags—so the mood of the story doesn’t change much.  The main challenge was to keep the color from being too static.  With T Rex, I needed to give the reader’s eye a break from the big green dinosaur—who dominates every spread—by making sure there were patches of other bright colors.

In Joe Bright and the Seven Genre Dudes, the story switches back and forth from Joe to his arch-enemy Stella the storytella, so his scenes have warm, bright colors and Stella’s are cool and dark.

In A Year without A Santa Claus, the story begins and ends cool and gray.  The middle section is warm and bright.  Even in the gray scenes, though, there’s always warm light around Santa Claus.

November PSInside

Interviews, updates and art tips from America’s hottest illustrators’ organization.  Get your copy here, hot off the press!

Turkey hoe-down

Three thumbnails, one tight sketch and final art from Turkey Day.

Don’t forget the cranberries

Another set of thumbnails, tight sketches and finished art from Turkey Day! The text called for a turkey marching band—so naturally they had to be from Cranberry High School, right?

Dancing turkey

Another scene from Turkey Day—three thumbnail sketches, one tight sketch and the final of a turkey ballerina.

Turkeys on a bus

More from Turkey Day—thumbnail sketch, tight sketch and finished painting.

Notice the difference between the tight sketch and the painting.  I left out the stop sign and pushed the red car to the left so that nothing important is in the gutter—the area in the middle where the left and right pages are bound together.

What goes in your portfolio

Some good advice for aspiring children’s illustrators about what to include in a portfolio over at Jennifer Represents…

Hat tip: Tracy Bishop

Wake up, turkeys!

Thumbnail sketch, tight sketch and final painting for the opening spread of Turkey Day.

Herr Baron von Manders

I needed an instant ancestor for a great old picture frame.