Monday, November 14, 2011

Testing the Illustration Board

The illustration board I bought is a little different than I usually get.  I was careful at the store to go through their entire stock of illustration boards and look at their thickness and feel the texture of the board.  I also wanted to be conscious of my cost as it can be very pricey buying that much board for the whole project.  I thank the Lord that on that particular day that I went to get the board, it was 50% off as well!  YES!

But this board was a little thinner than I have used in the past and I wondered if it could stand the amount of paint that I would put on it over most of it's surface area.
I decided to cut a similar shape of a spread and make a test painting and see for myself if it was going to buckle or warp any.

I held my breath!

I didn't want a great painting so I didn't make a tracing...I just starting brushing down a liberal amount of paint over a lot of it's surface and waited to see what would happen.  I had the illustration board taped (on all 4 corners) to my drawing table to give it it's best chance at staying flat.
It did stay flat after the paint dried!

So, put some more paint on top of that....alot of paint...and waited again.
Wow, that board stayed flat as a pancake!  I was THRILLED!  This was going to work well!

Finally I decided to paint a little something with some detail on top of the background paint I had already put down to make sure it would still hold up well.  That is how I paint...background first, then come forward to the middle ground and finally the foreground where all the detail and darker values tend to be.
Wooooohooo!  Yes!  It passed the test!

I used Liquitex acrylic paints with a white bristle brush mainly.
I'm now ready to take my completed tracing (pages 6 and 7) and begin my first painting!
It's November and I'm already jumping into my first painting...the last painting is due in July.  This means I have 8 months to do 18 paintings.  I feel really good about where I am in the process...I can do this and hopefully even complete everything before my July deadline.

Preparing the illustration boards

During the time I sent the sketches to the editor, I knew it might be a couple of weeks while I was waiting to hear back from them.  What could I do during this time that would help me keep my momentum going with the project instead of just twiddling my thumbs?
I decided to prepare my illustration boards.  Here are the steps to that:
1) buy the illustration board (I got mine from Hobby Lobby...Mixed media strathmore series 400)
2) cut the boards to the right size leaving around an inch and a half of white space around the outside of the illustration area.
3) draw crop marks on the boards exactly to size (the book is 12"x 9" per speed...I also need to add a half inch all the way around the illustration so that the painting bleeds out a half inch more so that when they cut the printed pages, if they are off a little, I've got extra painting all the way around for them to comfortably work with.
4) label each cut illustration name and page numbers.  When it's time to paint a particular spread, I will have all my boards ready to go....I just get the right page number board and start tracing the picture down on it.

Trick to save time and be accurate:
You'll notice the last board at the bottom of the fanned stack has corners cut out.  This is my "template" board to help me put the crop marks in exactly the same place on every board...rather quickly.  I just lay that board down on top of any other board and make my crop marks by tracing next to these cut out corners.  Then I take a ruler and draw very light lines around the illustration area so that I'll know not to paint past those lines.  Easy Peasy!

I feel good about doing something with this gap of time that will help me with my whole process later.  It will also be rewarding to watch the stack of illustration boards get smaller and smaller as time passes...and that will be a great "visual encourager"!

Beginning the tracings

The drawings I have made and sent to the editor at this point are "loose"...they need detail put in them and tightening up on my proportions and making hard and fast decisions about what exactly I will paint in each spread.
I start this process with the first spread which is the dedication, title page.  If you go back and look at what I sent the editor, you will see that it is very generic of tiny and it's small...doesn't fill the space of that side of the spread very well.
And the other side of the spread where the dedication will go, has a very finished tight was the only page in the whole set that was a finished tight drawing...the bird in the party hat.
When I went to work on the title page, I decided to show Tiny blowing a party blower with the bird, Pete, flying up off of Tiny's nose because he was startled.  I decided to take Tiny's huge body and have it go into the gutter (center of the spread where 2 pages meet).  This would allow me to keep the dedication side open for it's own picture.  I felt Tiny needed a party hat and by the time I got the tracing like I wanted it with Tiny, the other side with the bird in the hat seemed like too much for the spread.  I felt like the dedication side only needed a piece of ribbon streamer and some confetti...sort of like an "after thought".  So I pulled the tight drawing of Pete and the party hat and drew a streamer.  I will make the streamer smaller before I paint it.
Because I had departed from what I sent the editor, I emailed the spread to them to make sure it was alright with them.  Better to find out now than have to redo later.
To date, I've not heard back from them yet on that spread.

So I move on to another drawing.
I'm choosing to work on a spread that seems close to making a tracing of it without very much work.  I really want to get a painting under way at this point as a confidence builder.  I'd like to say, "I"ve finished a painting on the Tiny book!".  It's important not to get bogged down or "stuck" in the creative process...I need to keep it moving.  Momentum is a big deal with a project this involved.
There is no background on the drawing I choose and the tracing does go quick....wooohoooo!

You can see I put a pencil on the drawing to give you a size comparison of how big the actual drawings are....12" wide by 9" tall.  I also put the original sketch above the tracing.  Now I can take the tracing...transfere it onto illustration board and start painting.

Beginning sketches finished and approved

I have finished the remaining sketches for the book that I will send on to the editor by email.

When I sent all the spreads to the editor by email, and after a couple of weeks, I heard back from them with positive feedback.  There were small comments made on several of the spreads to either add things that I had overlooked or be sure that a background in the picture in one spread was consistent with the same room background of a previous spread.
I took all my drawings and went through the whole stack writing the comments from the editor out to the side so that when I make my tight tracing (drawing), I will be sure I make those changes.

I was very happy and relieved that there were as few changes as they sent to me!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

SKETCH phase: pages 6-15

I'm moving into the picture ideas for pages 6-15.
The pictures need to show the ongoing tension that will be there in every page as the boy
keeps working at "solving his problem".
Every story needs a problem in order to create tension and interest.  That is a main ingredient.
The problem in this simple book is that a small boy is wanting to surprise his best friend with a birthday party...this huge dog usually goes with him everywhere and does everything with him.  Tiny doesn't understand why his best friend is not letting him inside to be with him like usual.

Like any dog, Tiny is persistent in trying to get back in.  Meanwhile, Elliot keeps trying to get things done...he wants it to be special for his big buddy.
That is what I must show.
It is a lot of simple "back and forth" between the two of them.
Tiny will understand Elliot's distance and unwilling to give Tiny attention in the end.

Pages 6 & 7....Elliot lets us in on his secret plan (build anticipation....this keeps the kids turning pages to 
find out what happens.)
Pages 8-11....Get Tiny out of the house...even though Tiny doesn't want to go!
Notice the emotion in page 10....frustration
and the emotion on page 11....confused and a little hurt
These are communicated in facial expression as well as body language....just like you and I do in any given situation during our day.  The artist has to plug himself into another story and picture the emotional reaction and what the details of that reaction look like....then decide, "how far can I push that emotion to make my picture communicate the strongest?"

Pages 12 & 13....Tiny's perspective of being shut out...dejected, yet vigilant (just like a dog!).
I'm letting Tiny's body language tell the story here...we don't even have to see his face.
I put the ball on the page across from tiny so that I will have something colorful to add to that green lawn
that will be give it some interest.  One thing I will do different is to move it from being straight across from Tiny.  The position looks too symmetrical where it needs to shift down or up and to the side.  I'm symmetrical to a fault!!  My dad kept a very symmetrical yard growing up....but my wife designs our yard with curves and asymmetrically which I find much more appealing and interesting.  (Dad, I still enjoy your symmetrical yard though!).

Pages 14-15....Elliot finally gets busy on his surprise party work....he disappears from Tiny's vigilant watch...but his ears still work great!
You'll notice below, I am designing this as two different pictures on the same spread.  I feel I needed to do this because spread 12 & 13 is one illustration going across both pages.  "Variety is the spice of life".  (nuff said.)
I'm not sure I like the way I have drawn Tiny barking...kind of like a big hound dog would bark....I'm going to look up some photos on the internet of dogs barking and see if I should modify this.
What do you think?

Last, I have to keep in mind that I cannot put anything in concrete with what I have designed...the final call on my work comes from my publisher.  I need to be willing to explain why I drew/designed something the way I did yet let go of it after I've had my say.  They are always good to hear me out and consider my opinion before making the final call.  I appreciate the professionalism that Penguin Putnam has always shown me in our book projects.  They are great to work for! (no, I'm not brown nosing!  It's the truth.)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Sketch Phase...where does the story happen?

Every story happens in a place.
Tiny the Birthday Dog has already been written and I am now interpreting in pictures what the author has put down in words.  When I read the manuscript, there are no mention of "places" in the; back yard; library; pool; store; etc.

I get to turn on my imagination and make this story happen in the place I think makes the most sense for my beginning readers.
I must keep it simple to help them.

In a beginning reader book, the name of the game is "simple".
So I embrace the acronym, KISS....keep it simple, stupid.
When I make things too cluttered with details (that are not really needed to push the story along or communicate what the spread is saying), it doesn't read as well and it creates a whole lot more work and frustration in the painting stage.  The more I put in, the greater the design problems to work out in the art space....and the opposite.

Every art piece does not need to be a master piece (I have to tell myself that over and over!)'s like a base ball player on a team...he carries his own weight.
A team needs nine players for a game...all of them carry their own responsibilities; all needed; leave one out and you can't play; none are more important than the other.

My illustrations have to be a team together.   A good visual understanding of the place beforehand helps me accomplish that.  
My pictures have to be easily readable and clear because my reader (pre-s to 1st grade) is just beginning to read .  My job is to help him have clear "visual clues" so he can try to figure out what the words are saying and ultimately be able to tell everyone, "Hey, I can read by myself!"

I told you in a previous post that I had begun to work on where the story is happening.  
At that point I had made no final decisions.
I now have a space that will house all the actions in the story and allow it to make sense.

After reading the manuscript, I visualize Tiny the Birthday Dog story having three main places:

1)the big room (living room) with a window that looks out on the back yard and a door leading to the kitchen
2)kitchen with a back door leading to the back yard
3)back yard with a ball in the yard  

Here is my initial unedited sketch once I saw the ingredience:
(click on pictures to see them larger)

When I lay out this floor plan without having to visualize the rest of the house, it leaves me alot of options and I can make it functional as well as charming.  I don't have tell my viewers everything...right?

After doing six Tiny the big dog books, I've made these decisions already and am now following through once again.  Two of those books already had pictures of the backyard where Tiny and Elliot live.  And two of them have parts of a kitchen...and one of them of the big room.  But I purposely didn't show every thing in those rooms so that it could stay flexible according to the story's visual needs.

The kitchen gets a checkerboard floor because I like them!  They add color and interest to the whole picture even though they are more difficult to paint and figure out in the sketch stage.   In my opinion, it's worth it.  Since things will be simple, I want to get the most out my painting real estate area.

One other thing, at this point, I don't put the furniture in the rooms yet....I don't want to complicate things here at the beginning.  Creativity needs space to expand and try ideas that come to me.  I need to walk around in these empty rooms first in my imagination....then bring my characters into the rooms and see how much furniture and "do-dads" I can comfortably put in after that.
There may not be much room in a certain part of my floor plan and if I'm bound and determined to squeeze in some furniture that I like, it will make the whole thing look contrived and squeezed...over crowded.
I have to remember KISS!

To show you how determining the place helps me move into my story layout,
in the opening spread when Elliot is introducing you to Tiny,
I draw him opening the kitchen door into the big room and whispering to the reader because Tiny is sleeping and he doesn't want to wake him.  The whole story is about Elliot creating a surprise birthday party for his lovable big pal, I'm starting the book on that "secret" note.  My layout for the place has helped me to do that pretty easily.

This is why it's worth my time to figure out where I see the story happening and be able to draw it out so that it is readable, flows well and makes a little sense.
I'm excited to have this piece in place and am ready to sail into the rest of the manuscript...this is a very charming story and I think it will have the potential for being timeless since kids love dogs and kids love birthdays and most kids wish they could have a dog as big as Tiny!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Creating a children's book: Sketch Phase: CLAY TIME!

Creating a children's book: Sketch Phase: CLAY TIME!: I need to feel my characters are more they really exist and are with me right in my studio. They need to feel like a real dog...

Sketch Phase: CLAY TIME!

I need to feel my characters are more they really exist and are with me right in my studio.  They need to feel like a real dog and a real boy (even though they are just made up in my imagination).
How can I do this?

Clay has helped me many times and it will help me once again in this book.  When I feel my characters are real, then it is easier for me to draw them from different directions...and to get the correct shadows from the light that are made by them.
Clay can bring that magical three dimension quality that allows you to walk all the way around your characters....and....clay is just so fun to work with!
I will actually be able to draw Tiny better after I've made him with everytime!

If you want to compare this with something else in the entertainment industry, it would be like when they make a movie and they have a scene with a huge alien space ship.  The film makers can either make a large scale model that they film with different kinds of lighting in a certain place to make it look real...or...they can use the computer to create the spaceship digitally eventhough it is not really there in three dimension.

So, I'm choosing to make a real model...only it's not an alien space ship, it's Tiny!  (Maybe the alien spaceship is another book?!  "Tiny meets a friendly alien?")
I'm using something I can get at wal mart that is quick and dries hard without cracking...I chose the crayola product called, Air-Dry Clay.  It's more like the real clay than the other kind of product I've used for years called, Supersculpty.
I open the container and grab a hunk....feels good!!
I get one of my drawings of Tiny and begin by making the biggest part of him first...His big polar bear shaped body.  Here's the drawing I'm going from....
I often use clay tools to help me carve things out of the shape or to trim the shape or put in details...
I begin mushing out his legs and trying to form Tiny like I see him in the sketch above...sometimes it's hard to do and takes time.  Art is hard when it is going slower than you want, but if I'm patient and do a good job, I'll be happy with the results and will have enjoyed doing it as well.
Then I grabbed another piece of clay for the head and will need to attach it to the body...
Since I'm just starting and I'm trying to get the size of the body and head, I realize that I have way too small a body!  I reach back into the clay container and get a lot more and keep working with the clay shapes while looking at the sketch.  This takes a little time.  I use the tool to start putting in details...
Good enough!  This does not have to be perfect for what I will use it for.  If I was making this as a gift for someone, I would spend a lot more time smoothing things out and then paint him with acrylic paint and make it look like Tiny in the book paintings.  I let him dry a couple of days (air-dry clay) and now he is as hard as a rock!  Good boy, Tiny!
and here is another view...
Great.  I'm happy with it.  But what can I use him for to help me with the book?  For one, having done this little clay figure, I've thought as Tiny as more real...what he looks like from every angle.  It's helped my mind know Tiny much better.  But if I had a night scene and I needed to draw Tiny in that special light as if he were under the light of an alien space ship and I didn't know how to draw the shadows that were made, look what I can do....
Wow!  This makes that scene come more alive to me in my imagination and I could paint it with more feeling and accuracy!  I just took my Tiny clay model into the closet where it is dark...set him on the floor....took a small flashlight and shined it on him from above....easy, peasy!  Here's another angle of Tiny in the dark with the flashlight shining on him...
This time I made the light shine from behind him...see how it made his shadow go in front of him?
Pretty cool, huh?!

I've used making clay in other models as well.  Here's 3 pictures I did of the boy, Elliot, in the book.  This was going to be a christmas ornament for my publisher but I couldn't get it done in time so it remained mine.  He has the viking helmet on because my publisher's company name is Viking.  And the trash can lid that the boy is holding has a "v" on it for Viking.  I thought they would enjoy that.
Since it was going to hang from a Christmas tree, I made his little legs so that they were independent of the body and dangled....I used paper clip pieces to do this...

And a paper clip on top of his head so that I could tie a ribbon to hang the ornament was fun painting him!

I've made lots of faces and things to help me with's a few from my growing collection.  You will notice these are more of a flesh tone color...that is because these were not made with the crayola product but with super scupty (Hobby Lobby or Michael's has these).
I also did a little scene with Noah on the ark.  He has a lantern in his hand because I imagined the boat was pretty dark inside and the racoons (2!) are coming up to talk with him and beside him are the penguins (2 also!).  This was a scene I saw in my head for a book I wrote called, One Night on the Ark (unpublished)....
One thing you should know about super sculpty, it gets very very hard when you bake it in the oven at 275 f .  But if you use a gas stove like I have in my very old house (103 years old!), sometimes you can easily burn the clay.  I'm sorry to say that one of my favorite characters got toasted that way....he's a dramatic fellow reading shakespeare and making a big gesture with one arm while holding his book in the other.  He's got the period hat and the handlebar mustache.  Wonder what his name would be?
Maybe he's not reading Shakespeare...but Dante's Inferno!
Last, I'll show you how I used clay figures to help me do a piece of art for a children's greeting card.  I saw the 3 children and dog in my imagination but I did't know how to group them.  Making them with gestures out  of clay gave me a way to play with their grouping.  It was a birthday card, so I had them with party hats and horn blowers...I'll show you a couple of the characters and then all of them together...
and another
and all together
Once they were in the position I wanted, then I played with what was around them in the background and painted them in festive colors to go with the birthday party mood....
All in all, clay can be a wonderful motivator and help in the making of children's book scenes...

Friday, September 2, 2011

SKETCH phase: Staying organized

Time to get organized:
It's important for me to stay somewhat organized with my book making....
I can quickly accumulate a lot of "stuff", especially when I'm sketching so many things.
From experience, I need a place where I know everything will be that involves this project.
If you saw my studio space, you would understand why I can't find a good place there....
I have many creative projects going on and it is important for me to feel that each project
has it's own space.
So how do I make this happen?
A "mobile box" came to mind as a good option since I am creating my sketches in different locations. I may be at my drawing table one day or the kitchen table the next or the park to draw an object that will be in my spreads.
The box seemed to be an effective way...
I just grab the box when I'm ready to work on the book and head to the place I choose
for that sketch time.
Once there, I take everything out of the box that I need....use it...when I'm done,
pile everything back into the box and put the box away.
I'm easily ready for the next sketch time and I'm not scrounging around looking for different pieces I've already done.

Having decided this, I headed down to Wal Mart and bought a
shallow clear plastic box (with a snap on top) for about $6.
Loving it!
The size had to be big enough to handle the large galleys that the publisher sent me. These galleys are the exact size that each spreads (page layout with the type placement) will be
in the book. Here's the galleys...

These will go in my box along with my sketching clip board ($2 at Wal Mart)...
some white copier paper to sketch on when I'm playing with ideas...
a black china marker (glorified crayon) that is great for sketching in this phase...
and the sketches that I've done so far.
Here's the sketches.....

and here's the whole thing together....

Now I'm ready for the all the sketching I will be doing over the next couple of months!
I feel better prepared and set up to succeed.
Mission accomplished!
This kind of simple organizing can be a significant contribution
to the creative process!
I'm not saying, "do it like me" can organize your things
any way you know will work best for you with the creative projects you have.
But I do recommend, "organize in some way", as it will help you in the long run!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sketch phase: playing with the book cover idea

I'm working with an idea for the cover today and this will set the tone for the rest of the book. I want to give it special attention. Is there anything I should consider before I jump in and start drawing

Looking at the "Big Picture" first:
It occurs to me that this cover needs to be designed with the other 6 Tiny books in mind since this is a series and the books will be seen together when the publisher is advertising them. And I don't want to create a cover that is unlike the flavor of the other 6...because it would be an "oddball" that wouldn't feel like it fits with the others.
They all need to be their own cover, yet feel like they are on the same team.
(click on picture below to see it larger)

Brainstorming and decision making:
So I get the covers of the other 6 books out and look at them together.
I notice that I have created 2 kinds of covers....a cover that uses a scene that has things in it that have to do with the story (Tiny Goes Camping has a tent and sleeping bag on grass with Tiny and the boy).
The other kind I have created has a closeup of Tiny, the boy and the bird.
I count how many of each kind....and "scenes" have 4 and "closeups" have 2.
Personally, I like closeups because they are endearing and fun...sort of like the end of Porky the Pig cartoons where he is in the circle saying, "d-ah-d-ah-d-ah, dats all folks!". I decide to go with a closeup.

I only have one book that has the use of circle (I used an oval shape with the book Tiny the Snowdog) I decide it could be a good gamble to use this book cover with the same feel so that there would be two this way.

The Traditional part: Sketching
I make my drawing using a China Marker (black crayon) on copier paper not looking at any other tiny pictures...just out of my memory and I put the party hat on him. I'm just wanting to center in on Tiny at this point even though I know I will bring the boy and bird into the cover picture later on since they are the book's secondary stars....Tiny is the "STAR" of every book!

Beginning to Design with the Drawing using the Computer:
I scan the new drawing into my computer...bring it into a program called Photoshop (I'm using CS3 right now eventhough I will be upgrading to CS5.5 this week). I take the Tiny the Snowdog cover and cut out it's existing art and insert the drawing. This is all the "designing" part of being an artist...presenting your picture the best you possibly can in order to make the project's intent happen. This project's intent is to show Tiny is having a birthday which is a happy, fun time of celebration.

I take out the snowflakes and put in confetti and rearrange the words so that they read well in the upper space like the other 6 books do (remember, I'm trying to make it look similar to the others...kind of like a family of 6 kids that all look similar and now the family is having a 7th child! He needs to look similar as well.). At the end, I go ahead and quickly sketch in the boy and the bird with Tiny and change Tiny's eyes to be looking at the boy instead up at his hat.
(see top picture for the visual progress I have written about)

Evaluating today's work:
Well... I like what I've come up with today as a possible cover idea. I think it accomplishes the visual needs of this book and goes well with the other 6 in the series....but, it may change as I go along if I see something else could pictorially say what the book is about better. I'll just keep the door open in my mind just in case. Or, the publisher may want it changed for marketing reasons I know nothing about. For now, I can move on to the inside of the book now that I'm getting a better feel for this big birthday dog named Tiny!

Monday, August 29, 2011

SKetch Phase: First, the ideas in written form

Today begins a new step in the Sketch Phase. I've been reading through the story outloud over and over for the last couple of weeks....not making any drawings about it yet. Now it is time for me to try and enter the story visually.
Children's book illustrators do books differently according to the way they work and how they feel most comfortable and have the best results. For me, I usually try to envision the whole area or place where the story happens.
In this story about Tiny's birthday, it happens in the boy's house and partly in the backyard. That's it!

So I let myself make a floor plan drawing in my mind where the story moves to room and out to the backyard. I have to show a kitchen (because a cake is being made in the story) and a big room where the "surprise" party will happen for Tiny at the end.
I begin to put down what that might look like in the top left corner and in the middle of the visual below. If you don't know what a "floor plan" is, ask your parents.

Since the story happens in this one place, I need to know it really well in my able to draw the rooms and what you would see in the rooms (the same way you know your bedroom well enough that you could describe it to someone else that had never been there before).
I might even make a little cardboard model of the rooms so that this place feels more real to me as I'm planning my spreads.
The more real I can make this for myself, the better the pictures will be for the story.
(click on the picture below if you want to see it bigger)

At the bottom left, I also drew Tiny sitting at the back door looking in as if you are standing behind him watching. He's got his big paw up tapping on the door....he's wanting to come in because he knows the boy is doing something special in the house and his curiosity is eating him up!

The rest of the things on the page have numbers large and dark with my scribbly writting underneath the numbers. The numbers are the page numbers of the book. I'm not trying to be neat with this picture....I'm just putting down ideas as fast as I can as I visualize what that spread in the book might look like.
Here's an example: ( this is written in the middle but over to the right)

26, 27
front door open-
animals coming in
with gifts while
banner is going
up in background
(farm animals from
other book story?)

What I was saying is, on pages 26 and 27, I could see the front door of the house open and different kinds of animals are coming in with gifts for Tiny while the boy is inside the room putting up a banner (that says, "Happy Birthday, Tiny!) with the help of a couple of other animals.
In parenthesis I noted something to myself about what animals these could possibly be.
In another book about Tiny on the Farm, the last page of the book shows other animals that like Tiny....I'm thinking these might be fun to use for this book since I've already created them and they have fun personalities. It also would be a good tie-in with another book giving continuity between the books and make the characters more endearing. Can't you picture them with presents and party hats looking really secretive and excited?!
Here is the picture I am referring to:

Next post, I will be showing you a clay figure I made of Tiny and how this can help me with the making of this book...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Beginning the book...the sketch phase

As I begin the seventh book of Tiny (the big dog),
I decided to document this process for others to see what this creative road of children's book making is like....and also I wanted to be able to remember in years to come this season of time that I am just stepping into. I pray this will encourage others.

Any creative project for me needs to flow out of my heart because that is where Jesus Christ lives and He made all things. He invented "creativity" fact, He is the embodiment of creativity. So the process (journey) begins with traveled with Him...and ends with Him. In every phase He gets the glory. I need Him.
"So, Lord Jesus, Master Creator, I ask for Your supreme help in taking on this project You have given me the privilege of doing...I want to do it in fellowship with You. I ask you to lead me step by step and bring great enjoyment in the journey. I ask for your encouragement when I feel low and tired and spent...when it seems I'll never get done. You have said through Your servant, Paul, "I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me"...
I thank You for this promise and I pray for Your anointing to rest on me so that You will be glorified. I pray this in Your strong name, Lord Jesus Christ. Amen"

My due date for initial sketches is November 1, 2011.
This means 16 different pages of drawings to include the cover of the book and the inside 32 pages that are the standard number for most kids books.
The finished paintings for the whole book (16 as well) are due July 2012...8 months later.

I had already received the "galleys" from the editor earlier in the Summer in the mail...these are large sheets of paper that has each spread in the book with the words in the actual places they will appear on every page. The spread shows where the "gutter" is on each spread ... this is where the two pages meet to make a seam when you open a book.

Because it has been a while since I made my last Tiny book (Tiny on the Farm 2008...that means I was painting him in 2006 and 2007!), I felt I needed to "get to know Tiny" again in a visual way.
I haven't drawn him in a while!
I didn't want to start drawing the new spreads until I had drawn Tiny and the boy, Elliot, in lots of different positions. I am taking some of the other books I've already done and am choosing different pictures to sketch out of each one. Guess I could say that doing this is an exercise in "learning to draw like me again"! Whatever....
The sketches you've seen in this post are some of these sketches I've done so far.

I am also taking the book text...spread by spread and reading it out loud everyday a couple of times (as if I were reading it to a kindergarten class) in this period of time and letting it soak into my head without making any new sketches.
The story is like a new clothing outfit and I need to feel that I am putting it on... "wearing it" that I get used to it and it feels comfortable after a while.
Reading the story over and over for a couple of weeks without drawing it, let's me get inside the story and walk around in my imagination without any pressure.
This is something new that I am trying for this book....I noticed that when I'm memorizing scripture and meditating on it during the day, I find it effective to say it over and over and over in my mind without letting my mind "critiqueing" myself to see if I'm really getting it or not.
It came to me to try the same thing with the book copy at the beginning. I have enjoyed doing this alot and am already seeing myself relax with the whole project...I think I'm gaining "ownership" of the book by doing this.