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Tinyville Town Timelapse

November 6th, 2015

I drew the cover for the first Tinyville Town book today, called “Gets to Work!” It’ll be published in about a year by Abrams/Appleseed. More info here as we go through time together.

Tinyville Town Timelapse from Brian Biggs on Vimeo.

Soundtrack by Dance Robot Dance

uncovering Everything Goes: By Sea

October 23rd, 2013

Everything Goes by Sea

(This post was partially written yesterday, October 22, before my old and reliable laptop took a day off while on my current book tour. 24 hours later, the cursed device suddenly began working again, so I’m currently sitting in the staff break room of Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh NC finishing this post and getting it up into the world…)

Today (yesterday) is October 22, which is the day that HarperCollins is publishing Everything Goes: By Sea, the third, last, and final picture book in the Everything Goes series. What this means is that you can go buy it now. So, that said, I’ll take a little break here and let you take care of that business.

Indiebound
Amazon

Okay, thanks for that.

The publication of this third book in the series represents the culmination of about six years of pretty solid work for me on this project. I first started knocking around the idea of Everything Goes back in 2007, at which point it was just a note in a sketchbook that said “transportation project.” I loved (love — I still do…) drawing vehicles of all kinds. I created a book for French publisher Éditions du Rouergue back in 2003 that I had a blast making, and my literary agent Steven Malk had been encouraging me to racket in vehicles again but with something more palatable to American publishers.

By summer of 2008 I had a folder thick with ideas. My good friend and longtime creative sorter-outer Jason and I spent a couple of days going through the piles of dozens of pages of script and hundreds of sketches, trying to find threads that held the various decent ideas together. After these marathon sessions at the Philadelphia Central Library, I could see what was going on and where it could go, and it was at that point that I started to get excited.

It was at a coffee shop with my now-wife Sacha that I realized that this was not one huge tome, but rather would be best split into three separate books, each covering a different mode of transport (land, air, sea).

And then it was in May of 2009 that I created a proposal that my agent took to publishing houses and led to Donna Bray at Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins offering to publish it. Donna also suggested that we include three I Can Read books and six board books in the enterprise, which made the whole thing feel huge.

The first book was begun in earnest around the beginning of 2010 and completed more than a year later, in February 2011. The second book was done in March 2012, and the third book was done April 22, 2013. The first book took longer since it set the template for the next two.
The very final piece I drew was this little boat for the endpapers of By Sea. In fact, it was the word “WOO” that completed the work.

sea-endpapers


I like process, and I always love seeing the preliminary work that goes into a book or film or almost anything. So I’m posting here a bunch of images of sketches and the work that went into the cover for Everything Goes By Sea.

BY SEA sketchbook1

BY SEA sketchbook2

These two images are from my little moleskine sketchbooks that I keep. As I began thinking about and planning the By Sea cover, I knew pretty quickly that I was going to have the “By Sea” subtitle on the sails of a sailboat, so that motif appears pretty quickly. Looking at these now, I’m a little surprised how much the partial cover-sketch at the top of the second image looks like the final cover.


EGSEA_cover_thumb

This is the first rough thumbnail of the entire cover. By the time the third book in this series comes along, a couple of things are already designed and in place. For example, the Everything Goes logo will be the same as before and will be in the same place, and the subtitle of the book (By Sea) and my name will be incorporated into the illustration in some way. Here are the previous two covers for comparison.

land-air-covers


SEA-COVER-sketch

EG by sea cover template

These two images are pretty similar and, in fact, are created from the same drawing. Or in this case possibly several drawings, since at this stage I’m sometimes drawing some of the boats separately, scanning and placing them into the sketch digitally. That’s how I put the logo on the cover as well. The second image is the one I send to HarperCollins, where the shading and title logo makes the piece look a little more finished and slick.


SEA COVER scan

After I get approval on the sketch, the next thing I make is this inked line-drawing of the cover. This is my favorite part of the process. I use black ink with a brush, but my ink is watered down quite a lot (a little more than I’d like, actually) which is why the big black areas actually look grey. Again, the drawing is made without the title logo, since the logo was created for the first book and I just use that again each time I need it.

everything goes logo

There is a pretty good little video of me doing this part of the process with the second book, In the Air, here.

EG2 cover timelapse from Brian Biggs on Vimeo.

The inked line drawing is scanned into the computer and then it’s opened in Photoshop where all of the coloring and final work takes place.


SEA COVER color pre

This is the same line-art drawing once it’s scanned in and touched up.It now has the title added to it and I’ve cleaned up the lines a little. Often, cleaning up the lines means a significant amount of Photoshop surgery, but in this case it was pretty close to right the first time.


Everything Goes by Sea

And here, as at the top of the page, is the final finished color cover.

Also, here is a video of the digital coloring of the second cover so you can see how that is done.

coloring everything goes air from Brian Biggs on Vimeo.


I thought I might also include a couple of real-world uses for a book such as this. The first example was taken by a friend of mine in Calgary, Alberta who has a son named Bas. Bas is apparently enjoying Everything Goes By Sea.

The second and third photo is a display at the book store where I am currently writing this missive. Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh NC has a beautiful display of Everything Goes books, and if you have a book store or even a living room, I encourage you set up something similar.

bas

quail ridge 1

quail ridge 2

raceboats

covering Everything Goes, pt 1

June 6th, 2011

The first book of the Everything Goes series, On Land, is scheduled to be published on September 13. It’s high time I start writing a bit more about this book. The fine folk at Balzer+Bray (an imprint of HarperCollins) have given the go ahead to show the cover. So I thought that I’d start with a bit of a tease before I pull cover off the cover, so to say.
The idea for Everything Goes is “lots.” Lots of everything, going. Lots of cars and trucks and trains and bikes and motorcycles, and then in the second and third books, lots of airplanes and helicopters and balloons and rowboats and tugboats and ocean liners and sailboats and you get the idea. I may have written this already, but mixing a little of Where’s Waldo and David Macaulay with a lot of Richard Scarry was generally the idea going into this project.
So to that end, I knew that the cover was going to be busy and jammed with a little bit of everything that is in the book. But beyond that idea, I didn’t have much.

I started out by drawing what I figured would be a decent basis for the illustration. This would be a traffic jam. Just a mass of vehicles with which I could set into a 10 inch by 12 inch frame and start working.

I used this sketch for the basis for the first sketch.

And then used it as a take-off point for a second sketch. These are the two I first sent to HarperCollins.

Generally, it was agreed that this is a good start. I was asked to try and show different kinds of vehicles that were in the book, like trains and bikes. And the type wasn’t working, since Everything was reading as Every Thing. For the second round of sketches, the background illustration was starting to fall into place but the type still wasn’t working. I’d became slightly obsessed with getting the type to work as a sign, like a billboard or on the side of the truck.

My editor believed that the treatment for “Everything Goes” should be something that would work on all three books and not necessarily be tied to the illustration itself. I squirmed at this suggestion, though of course she was correct. I knew it was 5% too clever to actually work. You can see the illustration getting a bit more refined as well.

After some prodding, I worked up some sketches for the “logo” as we started calling it.

Now, we were getting somewhere. Here’s how the sketch looked with the logo in place.

This is the sketch that got approved, though the logo still went through another round of changes. As a technicality, I made one more iteration of the cover sketch, just to nail down the details before I started inking. Below are the final illustration sketch and logo sketch that led to the artwork, which I shall reveal tomorrow. Stay tuned.

ask magazine cover

April 10th, 2008

This is kinda old news but I completely forgot to post it. I did a cover for ASK magazine, which is a magazine of arts and sciences for kids. I know it’s in the library at my kids’ school. It’s the second cover I’ve done for them. It was the March 2008 cover so it’s on the shelves by now at your local school library.

March 2008 ASK magazine