Archive for the ‘movies’ Category



Friday, April 3rd, 2020

Since I started my virtual story-times, there are now about a million people doing the same. Numbers of viewers have dropped quite a lot, and I’m gonna take a break. In the meantime, I recorded this drawing lesson for SimonKids for Bike & Trike. Get some paper and a pencil and have fun!

Friday, March 20th, 2020

I’ve been an illustrator for more than 20 years. As a result, I’ve been practicing “social distancing” almost my entire working life. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems that most of you are learning this new routine right now, and everyone is home, sitting around realizing that “working from home” isn’t always as awesome as one might have thought.
I suspect this is especially true for kids, who miss their friends, miss their teachers (except Mrs. Stokes, my 2nd grade teacher from back in 1976 — no one misses her) miss the cafeteria food, and so on. Having the entire day off from school isn’t so cool when one can’t hang out with friends and socialize.
A week or so ago, I heard of a thing that was ramping up on Instagram under the hashtag #OperationStorytime. Authors and illustrators are reading their books and posting online. I knew immediately that this was something I wanted to jump in on.
Since last Tuesday, I’ve been reading books and posting the videos on my Instagram account and to a special area of my YouTube channel. I hope to do this every weekday. I mean, I’ve illustrated like 80 books, I hope that’s enough. If not, I’ll start reading favorite books I had nothing to do with. And then maybe restaurant menus, and magazine articles.

I think there are various equivalents on Twitter and various publishers’ YouTube channels as well. Mo Willems and Bob Shea are doing doodles. Greg Pizzoli and Mac Barnett have been reading books on live Instagram feeds.

Kids’ books to the rescue! I hope you’re all safe and sound and healthy. Keep in touch, and post requests in the comments.

Let’s do this.

Tuesday, July 11th, 2017

Today is the “book birthday” for the 2nd picture book in the Tinyville Town series. This one is called “Time for School” and it follows our hero, Ellie Emberley, as she begins her first day at Tinyville Town Elementary.

The name “Ellie” came from my daughter, Elliot, and “Emberley” from one of my first favorite illustrators, Ed Emberley. Mainly, I like the alliteration of the names, and it’s fun to say while reading aloud.


I also made another time-lapse video of the drawing of the cover art. I hope you like watching this stuff as much as I like making it. Buy it on Indiebound here!

Time for School cover draw. from Brian Biggs on Vimeo.

Friday, May 26th, 2017

I’ve been doing some updating on the site. Two months ago, we changed servers from Laughing Squid to some kind of custom thing my teenage son made with Digital Ocean. I don’t know if you’ve notice the difference, but it’s huge. Much quicker, more responsive. We had some email glitches but those are fixed and all seems to be working well.
The only remaining issue is in converting my old illustration galleries to new formats and getting them to work. I’m also going through and finding out-of-date media and trying to convert it to modern stuff. Namely, Flash animations to anything that isn’t Flash. One of my first attempts at animation was in 2004 with the trailer to a little French book I made called Un Mode de Transport. Today I nailed it down using a .FLV file I found in my archive hard drive, and converted it using Adobe Media Encoder. The soundtrack was made using Propellerhead Reason, which was the first electronic music software I played with. Here I sampled my own voice for the first part, and used a bunch of accordion and percussion samples for the second. It’s always nice to use hot-stuff electronic music software to make something sound like it was recorded in a kitchen with pots and pans.

Enjoy.

Un Mode de Transport from Brian Biggs on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

The series debuts in a week, on September 6. Abrams asked me to use the little Time-lapse video I made last year when I drew the cover of Gets to Work. I tacked on some bumpers and branding, and changed the soundtrack.

So here’s that.

Greetings from Tinyville Town from Brian Biggs on Vimeo.

Friday, April 11th, 2014

The Children’s Book Council asked me to make a video for their Children’s Book Week 2014. They asked author/illustrator Amy Ignatow as well, and she and I had the bright idea to collaborate. We filmed the thing on a crummy-weather Saturday back in February, and today it’s released to the anxious masses.

Surprise cameo and good music as well.

You can see more Children’s Book Week Champion videos here.

CBW-champion-FINAL

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!

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

I’m not one who is often accused of, nor credited with, planning ahead. But in this case I’ll take it. About a year ago, while I was working on the cover of Everything Goes: In the Air, the 2nd Everything Goes book, I decided to document the process with a time-lapse recording. I set my camera up so that it hovered over the drawing table and had it record a frame every couple of seconds. What resulted was a two-minute rendition of the drawing of an illustration that actually took a few hours.
I’ve had this video sitting around for a year now, and while on vacation up in Maine over the last few weeks I was able to string it together to make a little promo video for the book.

The movie is made up of 1,882 images, each shot six seconds apart. The color images are illustrations from the book, and the music is by my alter-ego, Dance Robot Dance.

Time-lapse videos can be funny to watch. I have a few that I sometimes show at schools events and they always get a good laugh from the students. Inevitably there are some kids who “get it” and know that the video was sped up, and there are other kids who later on will ask me how I did that so fast.

Of course, the bigger news here is that the book will be out in a matter of a few weeks. September 11 September 18 is the release date and you can pre-order it now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Indie-bound.

It probably goes without saying that for the next few weeks I’ll be posting a lot about Everything Goes: In the Air including a process post about designing and illustrating the cover that won’t be so speedy.

Bonus update 16 August:
Finished a second trailer. It’s this here:

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Two really fascinating videos that tackle related ideas.
They make me a little queasy but I’m fascinated by them.

The first one is a GoPro camera attached to a hula hoop.

The second one is a bit more complex. Callum Cooper, the filmmaker, built a rig to mimic a jumprope. At least I think that’s what’s going on here. He has some more twisted pieces as well on his Vimeo page.

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

HarperCollins posted a fun little movie trailer for Everything Goes on Youtube yesterday.