Posts Tagged ‘illustration’

The making of: Goodnight Everyone

12 July, 2016 |  by  |  No Comments

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The idea for this book came from visiting my sister Jan’s Montessori school. She was showing me some of the games and toys she uses in her class of 3 and 4 year olds.

She had a series of blocks to explain the powers of ten 1/10/100/1000. 1 square block, 10 stuck together to form line, 100 blocks together to form a plane and 1000 blocks making a 10x10x10 cube. We were talking about how ideas like scale can be shown visually so much easier than can be explained and it occured to me that it could be the perfect subject for a picture book. I like using images rather than words to tell a story visually and this is a very visual idea so it might work. I began thinking of Charles and Ray Eames’ ‘Powers of 10’ and if there was a way to create something similar to this that could be understood by very young children.

In fact I wrote another blogpost about powers of 10 here.

The first idea was a story about an ant who wants to know how big the world is and meets larger and larger animals along the way. She climbs to the top of the grass and meets a beetle, and then to the top of a bush to meet a lizard, a monkey on a tree, and an elephant who takes her to the top of a mountain. Each sequence would be an order of magnitude larger than the last and it would be fun to show the world zooming out all the way out from an ants point of view to the whole world. Note the lizard hidden on the bush in the top right.

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The ant was exploring the world of the very small and there were lots of exciting worlds and things to draw.Screenshot 2016-07-05 20.53.09

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However, the story was too linear and so becomes a little boring and predictable after the first sequence. As well as this, the whole premise seemed a little contrived. Ants don’t want to know how big the world is, and neither do very young children, it is much older children who become interested in a question like this. I couldn’t resolve this after more than six months I ended up abandoning the idea and instead created a different book (SHH! We have a plan).

Two years later I came back to it. A simpler way to explain scale to very young children is by acting it out. An action can be made big/bigger/biggest. I decided to abandon the ‘how big is the world’ idea in favour of a simple action simply getting bigger by being acted out by larger and larger animals. Different sized animals in order doing actions such as eating/moving/tickling have potential to build drama to a punchline. I drew it in a sketchbook on the beach.

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After trying a few actions I hit on the idea of a contagious yawn that went from a tiny ant all the way to an elephant. The cut pages increase in size as the yawning animals get bigger a little like the sequence in the hungry caterpillar and other books. The animals then go to bed and the scale again increases, but this time rather than larger cut pages the scene zooms out further and further until we see all the animals and say ‘goodnight everyone’. The youngest children are not interested in the concept of ‘scale’ but they can notice the animals in the pictures get larger or smaller as the pages turn. It is introduced to them in ways they can understand.

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We created a dummy book in pretty much the form it is now but my editor and art director had doubts about it as a book. It didn’t really have a story as such, and was a little different to my other books so it again got shelved and I tried out different ideas…

 

…an ant who was tickling larger and larger animals.

 

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but the ant and insects seem threatening if they are coming to tickle you and are too realistic. So I abstracted them a little…

 

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she finds bigger and bigger animals to tickle until she gets tickled back in the end.

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That year I became an uncle, and at Christmas I spent a few weeks with my eight month old twin nieces. I was reading my books to them but at that age they were a little too young to properly follow the story, so we were mainly just pointing out things on the pages. I showed them my dummy books to see what caught their eye. Goodnight Everyone was the biggest hit. They loved the sequence where the larger and larger animals are revealed behind the leaves, and wanted to turn the pages themselves. When they turned them we would make yawning actions and after a few goes they began yawning too. They had been having terrible difficulty sleeping as they had come to Ireland from Australia for Christmas. One of the twins, Joanna, was very bad and it was as if she was fighting sleep, she seemed to be scared of it. Every time she noticed herself nodding off her face had a look of terror and she bawled crying. We just wanted to reassure her that going to sleep was nothing to be afraid of but of course you can’t explain that to a child so young. The only way you could really attempt explain that to a very young child I think is through pictures. I came to the conclusion that doing a picture book with no story and just a reassuring message about going to sleep was a good thing to try to do.

We used the book in their routine to put them to sleep and it worked so well that my sister and mum said really should forget my new idea and go back and publish this instead.

My two guest editors Joanna and May:

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I took it back to Walker after Christmas and we agreed that actually with some tweaks it would work well for the very young. It would be for a younger age group than the other books. As I began creating the artwork I realised that it looked a bit weird having ants and beetles yawning and snuggling up to sleep. Birds and mammals yawn, but insects don’t, so I dropped the ants and beetles (although they are still there on the sleeping mice page). The elephant got dropped too once I realised i could make a link to the Ursa Major and Ursa Minor constellations. The two bears then become the lead characters (thanks to Alice Beniero for inspiring this idea)

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What I try to do in my books is to simplify and reduce the words to communicate to the youngest children. What I am most excited about with this book is that it is told through actions which would be acted out rather than read, so I would hope a small child can understand without any language at all.

The first sequence begins with a small yawn…. which grows larger and larger until everyone goes to bed.
The final sequence begins with a snore…. which grows larger and larger until little bear gets a kiss goodnight and everyone is asleep.
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The book is a mirror of itself, each page on first sequence is turned to reveal the animals, the mice, the hares, the deer etc
And each page on the last sequence is on the verso and so the animals are covered with each turning page, almost as though they are being tucked in one by one.

The final sequence zooms out from the little sleeping mice to the whole of the night sky. On each page we say goodnight to each of the sleeping animals. A dandelion seed is dislodged by the snoring mice and passes from page to page and past the constellations on the endpapers to return to the beginning of the book and grow a new dandelion. It passes the quote at the beginning which reads ‘No dreamer is ever too small, no dream is ever too big’.

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The ‘day time’ front endpaper is the southern night sky with the earth and the solar system seen from the south, you can see the antarctic. The ‘night time’ back endpaper is the northern night sky with the earth and solar system seen from the north, you can see the arctic. The book from beginning to end is a zoom through the earth as it turns from day to night.

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day time

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night time

 

I am now building a version of this in 3D and I hope I can make a free app to explain night and day and the seasons as well as the solar system and the constellations. Coming soon!

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GOODNIGHT EVERYONE comes out in the UK at the beginning of August. It comes out in other languages very soon too:

French: BONNE NUIT TOUT LE MONDE
Spanish: Buenas noches a todos
Catalan: Bona nit a tothom
Italian: Buonanotte a tutti!
Swedish: Godnatt allihop
Danish: Godnat allesammen
Dutch: Welterusten Allemaal
Norwegian: God natt alle sammen
Finnish: UNEN AIKA
German: Gute Nacht Allerseits
Russian: Всем спокойной ночи
Chinese/Japanese coming soon.

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Post-carbon future

22 October, 2010 |  by  |  3 Comments

I have been asked by the excellent New Internationalist magazine to create a two page spread to show how our post carbon cities may look.
Together myself and Jess have come up with some ideas of how it could look, but we thought it would be great to see if others can add ideas to this. If you have any ideas yourself please add to the comments below or retweet/fwd to friends who may have suggestions. I only have till monday to finish (!) but hopefully we can gather some ideas. Thanks!

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what we have so far…..

1 quiet revolution urban wind generators

2 BedZED style zero carbon housing

3 Urban allotments

4 Chicken. the post-carbon pet! (above the chicken is a roof clad with solar panels)

5 Carless roads. Cycle track/tram/pedestrianised with local markets

6 Public transport. elevated trains/trams/underground system

 

This is the final image

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A Bit Lost: the making of…

6 September, 2010 |  by  |  11 Comments

Before I had my idea for my little lost owl story I had actually wanted to do a different story about birds in a forest. The birds in the first story come down from their tree top roosts to the bottom of the forest and meet all the other animals of the forest along the way. They pass all the forest animals who want to eat them and eventually manage to find food near the forest floor. The last spread would then be a panoramic of them back perched at the top of the trees at the end of the day overlooking all of the life of the whole forest. I had the idea because I wanted to introduce all the animals and have the interactions of the forest in a sort of Arne Naess story of deep ecology and interconnectedness.

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This image was the trigger for the story. It’s a screen print I did for the fair trade company People tree. I really liked the image because I had the idea of hiding figures in the complex background (see the little cat in the bottom right)

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An early prototype of the pop-up for People Tree. You can see it animated here. They should be available to buy soon from people tree’s site actually.

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I liked the silhouetted running shapes of the birds. They eventually evolved into the running owl and squirrel in the finished book.

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The birds here hide from a tiger (also a snake and an elephant)

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The birds in their perch for the final image. They look across at the whole forest and see the web of all the animals that we met in the story.

In the end I sort of had to scrap the idea, I didnt like the way the birds interacted with the other animals of the forest. They were not engaging with them as such and it left a sort of lonely tone to the story. I may try it again another time but for this book I decided I wanted to do something that was more engaging and somehow a little like pantomime. Without engaging with little funny questions and cause and effect (Uh oh! is he going to fall off?/ Uh oh! Is it Mummy? etc) a very young audience tends to lose interest quickly.

The breakthrough came when I made the bird fall from his nest. That way he was lost and had to engage with the other animals in a way that wasnt about avoiding being eaten. In order to give the bird a range of expressions, forward facing eyes is much better graphically so I chose an owl instead of a bird. Also owlets apparently have a habit of falling out of their nests. I had imagined somehow that owl babies were cute until i actually looked them up on the internet

In the end my story turned out very different. Although the story had changed, there were a few things that I kept the same. The main thing was for the story to be able to be read without words so that children can understand everything just by looking at it. I also wanted there to be other visual interests in the book that children can find themselves. In the first story there were glimpses of the berries that the birds were looking for all along throughout the story, and in the final lost owl story it is the mum looking for her child.

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The first images of the new owl story

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Although I changed the story, you can see the patterns on the owls were similar to the original birds and I was using all the same colours.

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some character sketches

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i got some character ideas from handicrafts i bought in Mexico (this one was made by Tejiendo Arcoiris in San Cristobal)

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…more bold graphic toys for inspiration…

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a noggin…

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and a bit of henri rousseau.

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I had the idea of doing a leporello (non-accordian) fold-out so that you can follow the path that owl takes as he falls. I ended up dropping this idea too. But there is still a half page where little owl drops on the opening spread.

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Eventually I lost most of the pink colour from the owls too. By now it has now become almost unrecognisable from the original story

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some more colour tests…

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i started going a bit mad with all the trees….

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one thing i like about these is the only white on the page is the white of the eyes of the characters. It focuses attention on them in what would otherwise be a very busy image.

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I did the typeface for the book with help from the brilliant typographer Andreas Pohancenik

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a test for the endpapers

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i quite like squirrel playing peek a boo in this early version of the cover.

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I did half of the book in Korea …it was published first by the AMAZING Borim Press. Check out the post I did about them here. Their set-up is very interesting.

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…and the other half in Mexico ..so i could concentrate fully on it. I had to stop working on other jobs so i was running out of money by now!

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i had some reference images spread out on the hotel floor and was worried the were going to get tidied up.

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the final spread of the owl falling

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in the finished pages you can see the mother hidden in the top left as her child is running around looking for her. the silhouettes of the running animals were inspired by the earlier work with the running birds.

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The panoramic final scene is also based on the imagery from the earlier story

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The final cover as it is now in English

If you want to see more you can see the first few pages of the book HERE

Illustration contract advice from India

5 August, 2010 |  by  |  No Comments
I had been reading contracts and giving advice to the Association of Illustrators’ members from India without ever actually mentioning where i was to the AOI office.
Then they actually called me up on my UK mobile when i was at a very loud and strange sounding festival (Shivaratri) …flutes/cows/rickshaw horns and a man wailing from a tannoy in the background…..and they were surprised to hear i was actually in India all along. Paul from the AOI had been threatening to post about it on their blog ever since.
You can see the post here
 
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Kathmandu University Illustration Workshop

7 May, 2010 |  by  |  No Comments

These are some of the images from the illustrators at my workshop at Kathmandu University. We combined images from Nepali folk stories and legends with other images to create new ways of telling the stories. Thanks very much to all the students at KU. The standard of work was really very high.

You can read more about it here

the images below are by (top to bottom) Sadhana Poudel, Aditya and Kanchan Burathoki

read the photo.circle post about it here 

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