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Everything Goes in New Orleans

July 1st, 2011

My editor, Donna Bray, just sent me this picture taken earlier this week in New Orleans at the conference of the American Librarians’ Association. Only two-and-a-half more months…

it’s a bird! no, it’s a plane.

June 22nd, 2011

With the first book of Everything Goes wrapped up and set to be published in about three months, I’ve been drawing airplanes for the last several weeks, working on the sketches for the second book in the series. So here I give you some of those airplanes. I’m really enjoying this. Airplanes aren’t constantly in my quiver, so to speak, the way that cars are. So it’s taken some time to learn how I draw airplanes. I mean, I can draw airplanes. But there’s a certain accent that needs to be developed with these things that will make it fit with the first book. I describe the vehicles in this series as looking somewhat like toys.
I spend a lot of time drawing airplanes from pictures, learning where do the wings go, how are they proportioned, how does the landing gear attach, etc. And then after a few days of this I put the reference materials away and start drawing from memory. Except for the Wright Brothers’ plane and the Spirit of St. Louis here, these are from memory and imagination.

covering Everything Goes, pt 2

June 7th, 2011

Yesterday I showed the process leading up to the cover of Everything Goes: On Land. Without further ado or brouhaha, here’s the final cover of the book. Click the image to see it quite a bit larger.

The cover design had to be indicative of the work that’s in the book, and I do believe it is. Cars and trucks, bikes and motorcycles, buses, construction vehicles, trains, and whatever else made it in the book and on this cover. Vehicles going this way and that way, all kinds of people riding and driving them, and even a friend’s blue and white striped Mini Cooper.

Once the final sketch was approved, I use that as the basis to create the inked drawing. I usually try to create my illustrations to the exact size that they’ll be printed. Everything Goes is going to be a big book — twelve inches tall and ten inches wide — so this was no problem. I draw the illustration using a big lightbox on nice Strathmore 500 series bristol with watered-down india ink, and use white gouache to carve out areas and add details.

If you take a look at the close-up image below, the wheels of the train, the white outlines of the train windows, the railroad ties, and the wing of the small black bird are examples of where I paint the negative space, or the white areas. When I inked the drawing, the area under the train was solid black. This part of the process is easily my favorite, as it’s a real joy to see these details appear and everything come together.

You may also notice that there is no type on the black-and-white line drawing. This is because when I do work like this I always draw the type and add it digitally.



Once these are all complete, they get scanned into the computer where I use Photoshop to color everything and piece it together. When it’s complete, I save it as a TIF file and send it to the designer at the publishing house (Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins in the case of Everything Goes).

Everything Goes: On Land is scheduled to be released on September 13. I’m currently working on book two of the series, which is called “In the Air,” and which will be published a year later. Lastly, “On the Sea” will come out in 2013. I don’t have the covers sketched for either of these two books yet, but they will be similar in idea and business to “On Land.” And of course I’ll post here about them when they’re ready to make their way into the world. Stay tuned!

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.

this is a book

March 2nd, 2011

It's a Book

It’s been a year since I organized and cleaned the studio. Now that I’ve finished work on the first Everything Goes book I realize how all-encompassing that project has been. As I finished things I just stuck them in a pile next to my desk rather than putting it away. The pile is large.

I’m filing book one away into the filing cabinet now. This stack of stuff pictured here contains every piece of sketch, manuscript, rough idea, note, reference print, and whatever else that made up Everything Goes: Land. It’s almost six inches thick.
Just for comparison’s sake, the folder called “Land” on my hard drive which contains the same thing but in digital form, is 7.6Gb. (The original art is in a flat file and is rather huge as well.) As I get going on book 2 and get a little further away from the last one, and as we get closer to the Sept 13 publication date I’ll post more goodies from this pile, as well as details about the book.

the daily grind

December 23rd, 2010

I got done drawing and inking the pages of Everything Goes just in time, as it was really starting to be a tedious chore. Oddly, the inking part of a project is always the most satisfying part of a book. Especially after the ink goes down and I get to use the white gouache to carve out the details. However with the small brushes and the lightbox and the 8 hours a day doing this, my arm was hurting. Like really hurting. So I was greatly relieved when the final touches were put on the trains and I could move on to the color.
Coloring a book like this has its ups and downs. Right now its all ups and I’m really liking the way it’s looking. Here for a little Christmas bonus are cropped sections from two of the big spreads in Everything Goes. You get taxis and other cars “with jobs” and you get trucks.

taxi!

the daily grind

Happy Christmas everyone, and Happy New Year.

Who are those guys?

December 6th, 2010

some guys in a band
Coming up for air for a few minutes to post this little piece of the book. These guys will be in Everything Goes somewhere, and if you know who they are, then you can also probably deduce, historically speaking, where they will be located…

father and son

November 5th, 2010

boy and dad

These are the main characters in the Everything Goes books I’m working on. This is part of a cutaway illustration that will show, kinda, how a car works. It’s a multilayered thing and is proving to be really difficult to get it all tidy and informative. You can see the sketch below.

In the manuscript they are listed as “boy” and “dad.” I’m being asked by my editor to name the kid. Ideas, anyone?

a little Everything Goes goes a long way

October 20th, 2010

I’m in the downhill run of completing the first book of the Everything Goes series. Everything Goes: On Land will be published next year by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins. I thought I’d post a few pieces of the illustrations as I complete them. These are just line-art and aren’t colored yet. They are small snippets of these huge 20-inch x 12-inch spreads that are just full of all kinds of trucks and cars and bikes and cars and motorcycles and more cars. And trains. But I haven’t got to the trains yet.

More of these to come.

Pieces of Everything Goes: Jay's Pizza

Pieces of Everything Goes: Fred's Fresh Fish

Pieces of Everything Goes: Motorcycles

dietary choices

September 28th, 2010

I’m really making a lot of headway now with the first book of the Everything Goes series that I’m working on. The first book is subtitled “On Land” and is full of cars and trucks and bikes and buses and such things. There are about fifteen big two-page spreads full of vehicles and pedestrians. Here’s some detail of one of the big illustrations that explains my complete theory of food.

dietary choices...