Bills! Bills! Bills!

I recently painted the cover art for another fun book by author James Miller, whose previous book, The Book of Jims, I also illustrated. This one is another compendium of historical figures having the same first name, William or Bill. Bill’s! Bills! Bills! is the title.

I started with a very rough pencil sketch of the Bills to be shown on the cover – William Tell, Buffalo Bill Cody, William the Conqueror, William Shakespeare, William Penn and Bill Clinton.

Jim also asked me to include a red-billed toucan, a spoonbill and maybe a hen, along with some dollar bills and cable bills, so I worked those into the drawing and tightened it up a bit by tracing it in felt tip pen.

I then made a rough color sketch, coloring in a scan of the drawing and placing the text.

I consulted with Jim on some details of the drawing & text and painted a finished illustration to drop into the design. He’s awaiting publication now. I think Bills! Bills! Bills! will be a fun & interesting read – especially to other Bills – but also for anyone who likes quips and quirks of history. 

Illustrating “Robbie to the Rescue!” Part 2

To read Part 1 of this process click HERE.

Once I had drawn all the pages of Laurie Nowlan’s Robbie to the Rescue! as pencil sketches, I scanned all the drawings and colored them in roughly so both the author and I could see the placement of color throughout the book.

Early on when Laurie and I discussed her main characters, we had decided there should be some little bits of clothing to humanize Robbie and his older brother Ben. Laurie liked having Ben wear a baseball cap, and perhaps big sneakers for Robbie, to make him look smaller and younger and maybe a little clumsier than his older brother. In initial sketches I had given them orange and red jackets, thinking they’d stand out in green foliage – then when I started doing pages I realized it was autumn in the story and the leaves would be those colors. So I switched their jackets to blue and green.

The story has a number of scenes that take place during a rainstorm so I tried to vary the spreads between pages that bled off the sides and vignettes where there was white space around the illustrations, as well as full double page spreads where it was warranted, to keep the scenes from looking too similar.

Laurie suggested that the storm scenes should stay very blue and gray, so that at the end of the story when there are beach scenes, the change to sunny warmth would really be apparent to the reader. I agree it worked really well.

After this stage I started painting finished art for the book. I’ll write more about that, and about developing the cover art, in Part 3.

________________________

“Robbie to the Rescue!” is available now through BookBaby HERE.

Illustrating “Robbie to the Rescue!” Part 1

I recently completed illustrating a new children’s picture book, written by Laurie Nowlan, Robbie to the Rescue! It’s a lovely story about brother robins and how they help each other through the younger brother’s first southern migration. I think it’s a very good sibling story, with lots of touches that happen between real brothers and sisters, so many children will relate to it.

I first spoke at length with the author about how she imagined the characters and the flow of the story. Laurie is a retired teacher and has been writing for a long time so she had already given this much thought. I di some black and white and color sketches of the brother birds and more or less used them as my prototypes when developing the page art – although you’ll see some colors changed.

With the author’s suggestions I laid out the text and drew pencil sketches for each double page spread. I drew a very loose pagination, which just helps me visualize a variety of page setups before I design, like this –

Then I drew pencils of each spread like these samples.

I’ll explain the next steps in the process in my next post.

___________________________________________________________________

“Robbie to the Rescue!” is available now through BookBaby HERE.

New Illustration for a Trade Magazine

The latest article given to me by the editor of Lodging Magazine involves manager tips for making a workplace a good environment for employee mental health. The key was offering support to workers in terms of acknowledging outstanding work, explaining employee goals in a clear way and setting an example for employees to model. I came up with an arched bridge as being the means of support, with the recommended action points spelled out on the pillars.

First I drew a pencil sketch with loose tones blocked in –

With the idea approved, I traced the drawing onto illustration board, outlined in prisma pencil and painted it with acrylic washes, using the sketch as reference to keep the values consistent.

Cows & Waffles

lodging_badapples_wpdetailMy latest illustration for Lodging Magazine is for an article about hotels keeping their dining areas germ-free. It delves into some of the nastier problems that hotel managers have to deal with – foodborne illnesses, sanitation laws and damage control responses. Not a lot of pretty images came to mind for my illustration, so I decided to go wacky with it.

The article begins by stating how people often like to get away to hotels where there are lovely bucolic scenes out the window, cows grazing and sheep frolicking nearby – but the visitors don’t realize that the flies around livestock are one of the most common ways for germs to spread. While flies buzzing around a dining area seemed off-putting to me, I thought some barnyard animals would be funnier and less openly icky. I sketched a cow and sheep in line at a hotel breakfast buffet.

lodging_badapples_sk1

Whenever I’ve been at a hotel for breakfast, the most entertaining thing is watching people use the waffle machine, so I drew the cow using that. The editor asked me to include a bowl of apples in the drawing, since the article’s title is ‘Bad Apples.’ She approved the sketch so I painted it – acrylic paints, prisma pencil on illustration board.

lodging_badapples_finish

 

 

George & Martha’s Wallpaper

blastfrompast_detailwpMy illustration for next month’s Lodging magazine was a fun one to draw. The editor at the magazine, which focuses on the hotel and hospitality industry, sent me an article “Blast from the Past,” about some hotel developers choosing to renovate historic buildings into hotels, instead of building new structures.

Sometimes in doing editorial art (art that accompanies written articles) illustrators are requested to create images that strictly adhere to the story line, and sometimes we are given freedom to come up with an image that makes a playful riff on the theme. The editor didn’t mind at all when I pitched an illustration of some historical characters participating in the renovation of a hotel room, while keeping the other workers in modern-day attire.

To make the historical characters recognizably different from the present-day workers, I decided to go with Revolutionary war costumed people – powdered wigs, long dresses, etc. I thought about having a George Washington type holding blueprints, directing contractors in kind of a statuesque pose –

lodging_blastfromthepast_sk2

But then it occurred to me that it would be funnier if it were a George and Martha Washington-type couple, doing what couples always do – arguing over what type of, say, wallpaper to use –

lodging_blastfromthepast_sk1– and that’s the one the editor liked too. I drew it up a little tighter and added some wallpaper books and more samples –

blastfrompastline

and painted in the finished art –

lodging_blastfrompast_finish

Poodle Posse Picture Book: a few more pics

The new picture book I’m illustrating for easy readers is progressing – Once upon a Poodle, by Chrysa Smith, and it should be ready for publication sometime in the early fall.  A few bits & pieces –

onceuponwp2

 

onceuponwp3

 

onceuponwp1

I’ll post more updates as we go along.

 

Magazine Illustration: Hotels & College Towns

My newest illustration assignment for Lodging Magazine accompanies an article aimed at developers in the hospitality industry, about some key points to keep in mind when choosing locations for new hotel.

The article explains that many chains realize the value of bringing hotels to college towns, since the football season brings so many out-of-towners that need accommodations; but there are other considerations before the developer should seal the deal, which the article describes more in depth. For the illustration I pitched a few ideas to the editor, involving cheerleaders, graduates in caps and gowns, and college fairs. Then I was talking to my son Tom, who does improv comedy several nights a week in NYC at Reckless Theatre, about the topic and asked him if there was some funnier angle to it – and he quickly hit on the best image of all – college football team mascots.

When I suggested this to the editor she immediately liked it, so I got onto the sketch.  I googled images of college mascots and chose several that looked distinctly different, then sketched them barging into a hotel developers’ office, begging her to pick their town.

lodging_pursuitofknowledge_sk00

and a color markered sketch, where I added in a pennant & megaphone to reinforce the college idea:

lodging_pursuitofknowledge_sk2

The editor approved it with a few gestural changes, and so I painted the final:

lodging_pursuitofknowledge_finish

I sincerely thank my son for his idea! By doing improv he has developed skills that lead him to generate really fast, funny, visual scenarios!

 

 

 

New Illustration for Lodging Magazine

My latest illustration for hospitality industry magazine Lodging involved one of those vague ideas that’s a bit hard to picture at first: delegating. The editor sent me parts of the article but it was not complete – it explained how hotels should focus foremost on their ‘hoteling’ responsibilities (great service and amenities for their customers) and hand off lesser duties if at all possible to businesses that specialize in those particular services. This delegating can help hotels accomplish key tasks without overwhelming their current systems and still providing excellent customer service.

I jotted down a few metaphors for delegating and sent them to the editor: I thought of a traffic cop directing traffic in a hotel lobby; a truck driver unloading packages to waiting deliverymen; and a football coach explaining a play to the team.  The editor liked the football idea, so I sketched it out roughly.

lodging_delegationinspiration_sk1

The editor approve this and suggested a few more props in the hands of the players, and to have everyone in golf shirts instead of padding, which I added in the color marker sketch.

lodging_delegationinspiration_sk2

This met with approval, so I traced the drawing onto illustration board and drew it in prisma pencil, then painted with acrylic paints, watered down to washes. The finished art:

lodging_delegationinspiration_finalart

 

Data Mining Illustration

My monthly illustration for Lodging Magazine was for an article about ‘data mining’ – how those in the hospitality industry can learn to better track and interpret social media referring to their brand, in order to improve their services to their targeted audiences. I pitched a few written ideas to the editor, involving visual imagery of hunting down information, and she liked one with miners in a cave.

I’m certainly no expert on mining procedures so I researched photos online to see uniforms and props. I sketched a very loose pencil rough of coworkers finding gold among the rocks, with one worker recording the info on a laptop –

lodging_miningforgold_rough

and then tightened it up before sending it in, adding the good & bad social media topics the editor suggested –

lodging_miningforgold_sk1

After approval I did a quick color pencil sketch to work from for the finish, then retraced it on illustration board and started painting.

lodging_Miningforgold_sk3lodging_Miningforgold_sk2

 

 

 

 

 

 

The finished art:

lodging_MiningforGold_finishedart1wp