Archive for the ‘illustrations’ Category



Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

Now that everyone is all shopped out but likely didn’t get what they really wanted, I relisted a few things and added a few other things to my Etsy store. I’m down to just three of the robot/heart screen prints, so it’s your last chance for those…

Go to the store here.

blue robot 5x7

robot valentine screenprint

robot heart screenprint

yellow pretty bird

teal pretty bird

seduction of the innocent

busted

dino 5x7

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

self portrait

self portrait

Have a safe halloween.

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Ladies and gentlemen, please fasten your seatbelts and return your tray-tables to the upright position, for the second book in the Everything Goes series takes off today. It’s scheduled for an arrival at a book store near you, and it’s currently making its cross-country flight from online retailers as well. And if you haven’t figured it out already, this one is called Everything Goes: In the Air, and it’s all about stuff that flies. Jet-planes, helicopters, blimps, balloons, little funny airplanes with propellors, and other flying contraptions.

As in the first book, we’re following Henry and his family (Mom’s along for the ride this time) as they go about their travels. This time the action takes place at an airport, where Henry and Mom and Dad are making their way through the ticket lines, security area, and to their gate to catch their plane. When I started sketching and writing this book it became painfully obvious that I was going to have to work to make the setting as interesting as the city is in book one. A few reviewers of On Land noticed that the book was as much about the city as it was about the cars and trucks and trains, and I had to go back and dive deep into my younger psyche, back when I thought that airports were fascinating and air travel was so cool.

I had help with this when I got a chance to visit Philadelphia International Airport at the invitation of Chuck Telles, who runs the American Airlines operation at PHL. I don’t get a chance to get out of the studio for research trips like this often, if at all, and it was pretty awesome to be able to get behind-the-scenes access to the airport. I was able to go down on the tarmac and walk around some of the jets, I got sit and watch people board and disembark in the international terminal, and I took about a million photographs. Here are three that, when you see the book, you’ll recognize how they were used.

In order to make things interesting, I focused on the passengers in the airport, giving every spread a jam-packed crowd of travelers dragging suitcases and duffle bags to their destination. The airport itself is also something I had a good time with, basing it on the airport designs of Eeno Saarinen, especially Dulles International Airport in Washington DC. Take a look and see what I mean.

Now, a much easier task than making the airport fun and funny was designing and illustrating the cover for Everything Goes: In the Air. From the beginning, I’ve known that the covers of all three books would feature as many of the respective vehicles as I could squeeze into a 12×10-inch space. The decisions I have to make a mostly around how to fit in the subtitle of the book, and where to put my name.

This turns out to be pretty simple as well. The main vehicle “character” in this book is a jet airliner, and airliners also happen to be the planes that we typically think of that might have typography running along the side. (The second obvious choice here would be a blimp, which you can see above I used on the inside title-page.) Also from the inception of this project I knew that I wanted something to be on one of those banners pulled by biplanes over parks and beaches in the summer time. Running this guy along the bottom made a lot of sense and was fun to draw.

Below are several images showing the process of creating this cover.

First is the thumbnail sketch. Typically there are a dozen or so variations of this, dealing with the spatial issues and seeing what naturally falls into place, and what doesn’t. I typically have an idea in my brain about how I expect an image like this to come out, but it’s not until these early sketches get drawn that I know if it’s going to work or not. I don’t use picture reference at this stage. Instead I’m just looking to fill space and get the gist of it. Specifics can wait.

I usually take a couple of the better thumbnails and create some refined versions. In this case I decided I wanted to try coloring the sketches as well. These two sketches are what I sent to my editor at HarperCollins, Donna Bray, and sometimes color helps “sell” the idea.

The left-to-right rule of picture books comes into play here where the first image clearly works better than the second. We also all really liked the idea of having the city below, which sort of weights the image.

If there was any concern about this particular cover, it’s that I needed to somehow avoid the notion that these airplanes were all on the verge of crashing into one another. With the previous cover, of On Land, this was not an issue as we dealt with lanes and bridges. I referred a lot to images from encyclopedias and airplane posters that I have loved since I was a kid, and felt that I’d be able to pull it off.

Once the color sketches were created, I felt that it didn’t look dangerous. Rather, it just kind of looked funny.

The next step was to create a refined version of the sketch. Once this final sketch is approved, I use it to create the final inked line art, so it has to be pretty close to done at this point.

Are you interested in seeing this part of the process in more detail? I shot a timelapse movie while I was drawing the cover last year.

The inked version is then scanned and the color is created in Photoshop.

Here’s a movie of this process as well.

Originally, as you see in the above image and movie, the airplane was red and white, but my editor believed that the color was too close to the red in the Everything Goes logo. So we tried a few other versions. This one didn’t win.

In the end, we decided to go with a magenta color for the plane, and I changed some of the colors of the supporting aircraft as well. The final cover is… tadaa!

Lastly, here are a couple of trailers for the book. Please feel free — in fact I demand this of you — to repost these things all over your various social networks. Just follow the Vimeo links. If you prefer the YouTubes, you can use them as well.


Buy it on Indiebound!

Buy it on Amazon!

Monday, August 27th, 2012


Something I hear a lot from people who have seen Everything Goes: On Land is that my cars and vehicles seem to come from a different time period than the present. Most people who see this seem to think that they kind of evoke some kind of retro 1960s vibe. I kind of understand this sentiment and I wouldn’t really argue it or tell them that they’re wrong, even though they are, because I can see where the idea comes from. But more accurately, what I like to draw is stuff that looks goofy. Over the years, designers and engineers have made some stuff that looks sleek and modern (no matter what era that “modern” was for), and, well, sexy. I like to draw the stuff that isn’t that. I like to draw cars that look like their names might be something like “Murray” or “Sal” rather than “Steve” or “Justin.” They’re a little odd-looking. Maybe nerdy. Roly-poly, cute. Not sexy.
So Everything Goes: In the Air is about to come out (September 18) and I suspect I’ll get a lot of the same kind of commentary. My planes and helicopters are so 1958 or whatever. When really, in the book, there are planes and copters from the birth of powered-flight all the way to current stuff. And the same holds true. I like the looks of airplanes and helicopters and things that just kind of look, I don’t know, silly. A good example that I thought of while I was drawing the book last year is illustrated with fighter jets. Fighter jets are the epitome of cool, right? They look mean and slick and fast and like they should look. But there are a lot of fighter jets that look rather silly. Like the guys that they were dog-fighting were probably laughing at them. Of course, these were pretty awesome airplanes even though they looked goofy so the enemy pilots probably didn’t laugh very long. The F-86 Sabre and F-104 Starfighter are perfect examples of this look of fighter-plane that I love. Some people, I’m sure, would look at the F-86 and the F-104 and think that they’re pretty awesome-looking. I look at them and see a plane with the hole in the middle of it and another plane that looks like George Jetson designed it. Granted, the F-86 was designed in the late 1940s and the F-104 was designed in the early 1950s. So I’m sure at the time, they were both the coolest thing ever.
So, hmm, maybe they’re right. Maybe it’s all this old stuff. Fins and chrome bumpers and metal parts and pointy things. Whatever. I know what I like.

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

bookmarks at The Spiral Bookcase

I have a little gallery show going on currently at a bookstore down the hill from me here in Philadelphia called The Spiral Bookcase. Ann and Adam, who run the place, printed up some lovely bookmarks for the show. I gave them some images from the show to work with, and they set them up and laminated them. They’re nice and stiff and do a good job of marking the place in the book where you last read, and where you might want to pick up next time you open the book to read again.
Ann says they’d be happy to sell them to anyone who gets in touch.

bookmarks at The Spiral Bookcase

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Tampa Bay Times

An illustration of mine ran in the Tampa Bay Times this last weekend, on Sunday July 8. I don’t do a lot of editorial work these days, so it’s cool to have a big one like this that works well in a newspaper format. The idea is that the future is full of unknowns right now — education, health care, economy, home prices, and so on. The idea dovetailed nicely with the busy chaos in Everything Goes. Below the finished piece are a few of sketches showing the work in progress. The one on the left is the initial rough just to get the structure of the illustration down. The color one in the center is the first sketch I sent to the client. They asked for a few changes and the next iteration on the right is shat I use to make the final art. Click on the sketch image to enlarge it.

sketches for the Tampa Bay Times piece

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

2wheelers is a magazine/journal from Sweden, and they asked me to design the cover of their second issue. You might notice a familiar theme in this design. In the video, pay special attention at about :42.

Also, you need the poster. Big screenprinted thing. They really did an amazing job. Click on the image to go to their online shop.

2wheelers poster

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Mudpuppy Dinosaur Block puzzle

A new dinosaur puzzle. I must like dinosaurs because I draw a lot of them.

Mudpuppy Dinosaur Block puzzle

This is a cool little thing from Galison/Mudpuppy, for whom I’ve made a lot of toys and puzzles. Six dinosaurs and one puzzle. The puzzle comes as a series of nine cubes, with each side being a piece of one of the puzzles.

Mudpuppy Dinosaur Block puzzle

Mudpuppy Dinosaur Block puzzle

Mudpuppy Dinosaur Block puzzle

Mudpuppy Dinosaur Block puzzle

You can get this here at the Mudpuppy site.

I have an extra one of these and I’d like to give it away to someone, so I thought I’d have a little contest. There are six dinosaurs here, right? Send me an email with all six dinosaurs correctly listed (and list the colors so I can tell which one you’re naming). Of all of the right answers I’ll pick one winner from random, okay?

[nggallery id=29]

So you have this week. I’ll pick the winner on Friday afternoon, around 3pm Eastern Time. Send your email to brian at mrbiggs dot com. You could leave it as a comment if you want, but then you’d be giving your answers away to everyone who reads this post. So instead of doing that, use email, and then just write a funny joke about dinosaurs in the comments. Cool?

Oh yeah, the winner has to send a picture of themselves building the puzzle when they get it. Okay? Good luck.

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Seven Impossible Things screenshot

Jules Danielson wrote last fall demanding asking that I allow her to write up Everything Goes on her terrific blog called Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast (it’s an Alice in Wonderland reference). Since I believe Seven Impossible Things is about the best book blog out there, I said “duh of course.” (When I told Sacha, the fiancĂ©e about it, she said something like “Oh my God! Are you kidding me?! I love that blog!”)
It took me too long to send Jules the images and words about the book that she needed, as I’ve been a bit snowed under first from the holidays and then (as always) from working on the second Everything Goes book, which is, of course, late. But last week, appropriately over breakfast, I went through and collected a lot of sketches, thumbnails, and other images from the early stages of the book and sent them along. I’ve been hoping to put them on my own site somewhere, and may still do so, but I figured that Seven Impossible Things would be a really good place for them to live as well.
So pour another cup of coffee, chew your cornflakes, and go forth to the write-up.

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

The Boy Who Cried Alien cover

The Boy Who Cried Alien is a book unlike any other book I’ve not only had the chance to illustrate, but unlike any book I’ve read before. It takes the old Boy Who Cried Wolf tale and tells it a little differently. In this one, Larry the Liar is our protagonist, and one day he sees a tooth-shaped alien spaceship crash-land into a lake near the town where he lives. Larry, as his name would imply, has a reputation for telling tall tales, so when he runs into town to announce what he’s seen, no one believes him. (Well some do, but they’re loony-toons.) So as Larry tries to figure out a way to get the townsfolk to believe him, the two aliens, brothers named Dreab and Carlig, sing songs about their problems, which include the ship having crashed, being out of gas, and getting in trouble by their dad back home. Now, here’s where things get weird. Dreab and Carlig don’t sing in regular old English. No, Marilyn Singer devised a language for them all her own, based on rearranging certain letters of the words. For instance, instead of saying “Rocket Kaput, no more gas,” they sing “Tapuk Tocker, on eorm, sag.” Do you see the pattern here?
Luckily, Marilyn also saw fit to include a translation key in the book so the reader can understand what the aliens are saying, and about halfway through Larry is given a translator helmet so that he can understand what the aliens are saying. Here are a bunch of images of the book.

The Boy Who Cried Alien

The Boy Who Cried Alien

The Boy Who Cried Alien

The Boy Who Cried Alien

The Boy Who Cried Alien

The Boy Who Cried Alien

One of my favorite things about the book was a last minute bit of inspiration by my editor, Rotem Moscovich, at Hyperion. On the case cover, which is the inside cover, under the dust cover, we re-did the title and author/illustrator credits to read in the alien-language. I’d forgotten about this when I got my hot-off-the-presses copy in the mail yesterday, and when I opened it I just cracked up.

The Boy Who Cried Alien

Some books get written, get illustrated, get published, and the whole things seems like well-oiled machinery. And then there are books like The Boy Who Cried Alien. I’m not sure exactly when Marilyn Singer wrote the manuscript, but I know I first saw the it in July of 2007. Before that, at various times, illustrators as famous and talented as Dan Santat and Adam Rex were attached to it, and three different editors helped sculpt it into the work it is now. I often think of how relieved Marilyn must be to know that it is, finally, a real book and will be out in just a couple of months.
I’ll post more about this book as we get closer to publication date, including a bunch of sketches and outtakes. Ytas Dunet!