Thursday, March 10, 2011

Pastels, Redwall, and the pre-digital age, part 1.

I am on the middle of a huge project and crazy deadline right now so I can't share any of the current images but I have received a number of emails in the last few months regarding my pastel technique. As chance would have it, I stumbled across a few process photos taken while I was creating my cover for A Redwall Winters Tale by Brian Jacques. This is all pre-digital so please excuse any blurriness!

The image on the left is the finish line. But where did I start?

In a quiet studio...then in many meetings.

Everything that you read about the value of a strong showing at your point of purchase is true. The cover a picture book is incredibly important in the life and
success of the project. It is also one of the most difficult and sometimes frustrating parts of the process. When the time comes for an illustrator to do his or her job, the publishers, designers, authors, and editors have already invested a great deal of time and money in this thing. Naturally, when it comes time to decide what our first impression of the book will look like, everyone, including the folks from marketing, want a seat at the table. There are allot of people trying to steer this ship. To do your job as an illustrator, you need to understand the book so that you can be flexible in your solution, address as many of the needs expressed by all parties involved (wants are optional) AND stay true to the material.

Step 1. Understanding the material.
I am a strong advocate of designing the entire book and starting the finished art before exploring the cover image. Why?
Picture books become these strange little animals that come to life and run around in your studio. They often start to move in directions that you did not anticipate. It is akin to how many authors describe the phenomenon of their characters taking on a life of their own and telling the author where they need to go and what they should say. Unfortunately, in my experience, picture books don't speak English and you need to be attentive to them to see where these creatures need to go. Redwall picture books are not small creatures either,......more like....., pet sitting for your friend that owns an buffalo.
So I read, sketch, design re-read, sketch and begin painting the images keeping a watchful eye on where this thing is heading.

Next week, less pre-amble and more images. Here is a preview.