Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Picture Book From Start to Finish

This post ties up a lot of threads I've been weaving here lately.
For everyone working through the Unofficial PBDummy Challenge, you may be struggling with the process. Perhaps you've fallen behind or, like me, are ready to abandon your project and start anew. Illustrator Adam Rex explains his method from manuscript to finished product for the book Chu's Day, by Neil Gaiman.
You'll find the entire interview at the Muddy Colors blog, which you may remember from last week's post about overcoming creative block.
After the positive response to Friday's perfect picture book, Chloe and the Lion, it seemed the natural choice to further explore Adam's creative mind.

My favorite thing about Chloe is the layout. Obviously Mac and Adam are not afraid to stretch the boundaries. They break through the fourth wall, they experiment with media as a story element, they poke fun at storytelling itself. The bit I found most inspiring was the design of the art on the page.
double page spread from Chloe and the Lion by Mac Barnett and Adam Rex
This spread is a great example of not playing by the rules. The left-hand page is broken up into four panels, while the right is one big scene. This motif is used throughout the book. Notice the picture in the bottom left. The text explains Chloe has just gotten dizzy on the carousel. Adam allows Chloe to wobble right out of her frame. Along with text placement, this is effective design. It's using the book as a whole to tell the story, not just the expression captured on the character's face.

Below is a sketch and its corresponding finished art from Chu's Day.


You can see his early dummy was more for design and placement than for draftsmanship of the final image.

All artwork courtesy Adam Rex.

I hope this has been a help to you whether you are creating your own books or simply admiring the work of others.

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