Monday, August 20, 2012

Showing Juno- the whale, my sketchbook

The other day we took a spontaneous family day-cation to the fantastic Mystic Aquarium in CT. Naturally, I brought  my sketchbook with me to draw some of the super-cool critters swimming about. For the fun of it I showed the penguins a drawing I had done of them, which they looked at for about a second and swam on. (Not big art fans.) But later that day I found the biggest (physically) art fan I have ever met in Juno the Beluga Whale. I showed him my sketchbook.

What happened next is a moment I will never forget. Juno studied and observed the sketchbook with me for a hour! He would turn his head with the page flip, focus on the things I was pointing too. He wanted little to do with anyone or anything else but the book. Woah. To say it was a bonding moment is an understatement. (Or maybe it was just my moustache?)

Thankfully, pal and kids book dude Tony DiTerlizzi and his fam were with us on the family day-cation and he shot some video of the moment. To our surprise, I guess it has received a few hits on you-tube! You can see the video here:

Scott Fischer and Juno bonding

Everyone keeps asking what Juno was looking at in the sketchbook. My sketchbook is a chaotic catch-all for the stuff that falls out of my brain- from Children's book ideas (Yup there is a whale one brewing.) to a visual daily diary. So Juno was soaking in a lot of info! I am working of a drawing of him that is not finished, but here is one page he was looking at. These were drawings I was doing at Mystic that day. (More sketchbook entries can bee seen in earlier entries of the blog.)

Guest sketchers, Sarah (Age 9) and Sophia (Age 5) helped me out on this page.

JUMP!- Process: Children's book stages

In honor of my recent visit to Mystic Aquarium and an eye opening visit with Juno the Beluga Whale, I thought I'd do a quick post about the process of making a kidsbook, focusing on some aquatic critters from my book 'JUMP!'.

First is the sketch doodle stage, which is all about exploring visuals for the different characters, trying to find what is right for the book. Wee little kids, for whom Jump was made, get a bit timid when a shark shows up on a page. It took a while but I eventually figured out if you give a scary critter one tooth, they get that it is a shark, but aren't scared of it. Here are some prelim drawings from my sketchbook:

The next stage, after I've nailed the basics of the critter, is to lay out the spread fot the books trim size. I focus on composition, mood, and try to be mindful of leaving room for text. This stage is usually a mash-up of sketchbook drawings scanned into the computer and them manipulated and drawn on top of in Photoshop. They are pretty crude, but will be cleaned up when they are brought back out of the computer into the real world again.

After I do the comps, I send them to the Art Director (In this case the Awesome Laurent Linn) and he does a rough layout with text. Once we are sure everything is where it needs to be, I print out the layouts and do a light box transfer of them in light pencil on watercolor paper.

I then inked them with a brush and Higgins Black Magic (Waterproof) and do the final water color flats. Or maybe I reversed that sometimes, watercolor first then the final ink.

Finally, the paintings are scanned, the text is added, and then it is off to the Printer. Then about a year later your book comes out! (What you see here are the files the final book was printed from. (They removed the crop lines naturally!)