Thursday, May 9, 2013

Word to your mother...

In honor of Mother's Day, I thought I'd introduce you to India's mom.  Her name is Elizabeth McGreevy.

One of the earlier posts actually has a super early version of India's mom (here):

Early on, the story was going to be about how boring India thought her life was (school, parents, neighborhood, etc.).  I had (clumsily) designed the character to fit the original story.  As the story changed, so too did Elizabeth:

 This version is a little more realistic, but still very stylized.  I can't remember why it was so important for her to be drinking iced tea all the time.  I think it had something to do with the fact that she was always outside gardening.  I don't like this concept at all, but it was part of the process so it had its purpose.  Now let us never speak of it again.

Eventually, I decided I wanted some of the characters and story elements to have a 1950s feel, mostly because I'm a big fan of 1950s illustration.  This sketch is the first design of Liz that I felt was getting pretty close to the mark:

And this is how Elizabeth looks later in the book:

It was a long time before I started to recognize just how much a character's expressions make that character who they are.  There are tons of scenes in "Saturday" where we actually get to see what the characters are thinking.  But in the moments where we don't physically see what's going on inside their heads, I wanted their expressions to suggest some of that complexity.

If you're a mom, happy (early) Mother's Day.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

You've been down too long in the midnight sea.

Time frame: Still early in the book's development.
Percent of book complete: At this point, all the "photo" drawings were finished, but I hadn't started on the pages yet.

First off: Apologies.  This was supposed to be the Monday post but I was out of town.

Here's the last of the photos.  The genesis of this one came from the fact that I've always been fascinated by the ocean.  It's dark and kind of creepy.  It's full of life of every size from microscopic to gargantuan.  We're still discovering new stuff.  And I've always wanted to explore it.

This desire was (and admittedly still is) partially fueled by "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea".  This is only the first of several references to the classic tale in this book.

This drawing is still one of my favorites.  The lighting is mostly what does it for me.  To be fair, I have no idea where India would get an antique diving helmet.  Even if she had a real one, there's no way she'd be able to lift it.  And if that's a prop she made out of cardboard...well, she's a crazy genius.

But realism is way beside the point in this book.  The reality is elastic.  I'd like to think the emotion of the book is true enough, but the story and the images run wild.  That's a big part of what I love about drawing specifically and children's books in general: They don't have to follow the rules of reality.  In fact, I think there's way more fun to be had if they don't.

I swear by my tattoo.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Weird Science

Time Frame: Just after the hypothesis stage
Amount of book complete: Less than one percent.

Remember science fair projects?  I never cared for them.  Mostly because I didn't understand or have the patience for the process involved in good science.  My projects were always half baked ideas that started with a theory and ended with "Oh crap is that due tomorrow?".

In fond remembrance of my ill-fated scientific career (I once pioneered the discovery that mold will grow on a sandwich if you accidentally leave it in a plastic bag in a closet for a week), I drew a photo of India doing her own version of science.  Here are the rough sketches:

As you can see, I had a decent idea of the layout before I began.  Once I had that established, I started adding other details like the jars and the car battery.  There always seem to be things floating in jars in the movies, though I'm not sure why.  Is it so the mad scientist in question can remember all the failed experiments?  Is it for sentimental reasons ("Oh, yes," he said wistfully, "I remember the first corpse I dug up...sigh")?  Do they keep those things for posterity?  Maybe I'm over-thinking this.  They probably keep it because it's good for atmosphere.  After all, it's important that you feel comfortable in your workspace.

But I digress.  Here's the final version:

This might be my favorite of the photos.  I love the light, the expression on India's face, and the fact that she's wearing dish-washing gloves.  I mentioned this before, but at this point I began to understand just how much fun making this book was going to be.  More fun than the first time I dug up a corpse.  Sigh.