Category Archives: A Countdown Quickie

On the Road to Creating Story!

What Makes Your Characters “Tick”?

Let’s look at the beginning of a picture book story.

The initial step is introducing your main character. Can you tell us what he/she is thinking?

What is their prime directive? What motivates them? What problem are they confronting in your story?

I love sharing this series of spreads created by  graphic design pioneer Bruno Munari — an Italian Paul Rand — who loved children’s picture books.  This is from his book The Elephant’s Wish.

Here’s Elephant, who wishes he could be as carefree as a bird…

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Bird wishes he could swim. Can you guess why?

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Snake wishes he could graze majestically like a bull . . .

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Bull wishes he could be like the elephant. Why? Then he could swish away those pesky flies! We come full circle by the end of the book.

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Artist Laurent Moreau contemplates himself!

 

 

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By Laurent Moreau. A girl dreams of being by the sea

Here’s the cover, which hints at the animals’ thoughts, while intriguing us with an unusual graphic.

 

 

 

 

Check out how Laurent Moreau lets us in on his characters’ thoughts:

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The cover from “What Are You Thinking?” by Laurent Moreau

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Ah, a play on line textures and far away thoughts by Laurent Moreau…

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This woman is full of jealous thoughts. By Laurent Moreau

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What a little girl in costume imagines, by Laurent Moreau

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Laurent-Moreau

What an absorbing story! Could she be lost into it? By Laurent Moreau

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Subconscious memories from a famous
folk tale, by Laurent Moreau

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What a boy thinks
by Laurent Moreau

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What one young woman
pines for, by Laurent Moreau

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It’s all math to some people!

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What a beautiful mind!

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A nature lover!

This is a fabulous way to explore your own story characters. Express what they are thinking, in collage! Check out these results.

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This one is by Marcia Sorini,
an elementary school teacher (see part 2, below)

 

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Check out what other students have created here!

 

 

Stop the Presses…and START HERE!

This may be the first book cover that actually teaches how to letterspell "A B C"  in American Sign Language!

This may be the first book cover that actually teaches how to letterspell “A B C” in American Sign Language! (click to enlarge)

Let’s start with unveiling the cover itself. It features a lenticular!

And it’s going on press this month! I’m so excited!

Why? Because it all began as a list of words on a spread sheet almost five years ago.

The dictionary began as a Word doc, which grew into an Excel spreadsheet. (right-click to enlarge)

Gallaudet University Press lined up a team of illustrators for their upcoming definitive American Sign Language reference (think Merriam-Webster, but for signing), aimed at the pre-school through grade 3 level. It had to be usable for hearing families as well as the deaf and hearing-impaired.

Page 1 from the Dictionary

Page 1 from the Dictionary (click on any image to enlarge)

 

One of the illustrators already on board was Debbie Tilley. When agent Richard Salzman discovered it was (a) Gallaudet first foray into children’s books and general trade; and (b) they expected Debbie to produce the layouts too, he recommended they contact me to pull it all together for them. It was a dream project for all of us!

Dictionary_p-105_Page_011   Dictionary_p-105_Page_008 Dictionary_p-105_Page_007

 392 pages of full color! It looks like a graphic comic, with over 1,000 word entries, fully illustrated. Plus it includes a DVD featuring a rainbow of children signing. There’s also a special feature on forming sentences.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll guide you on the process. It will be like a diary on the making of a children’s reference classic. . .

Spread from pages 238-239

Spread from pages 238-239 (click to enlarge)

You will witness exclusive behind-the-scenes book making. Stay tuned. That’s why I’ve been away for so long. Been dictionary-ing…

You can pre-order the Dictionary through these links:
Amazon.com
Barnes & Noble

 

Asynchronicity!

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I received the following question recently: “I’m interested in your online CB illustrators course at UCSD, but can’t find the link. Can you please post it again? Also, I travel overseas a lot for work. Would that preclude me from taking the online course, i.e., are the classroom times synchronistic or can you work at your own pace? Many thanks!! [from Linda Benson]

Great question! You can take the class at your own pace. It’s a 9-week course, with a new exercise/assignment given at the start of each week. You post completed exercises online, to share with classmates, at the end of each week. And you can post questions at the Class Discussion Board anytime, too. It’s an asynchronous class

For more info, go here.
Register anytime, 24/7, here.

Drawing Warm-ups: I do it with Ed Emberley’s help!

Emberley-FROG

It’s about seeing common shapes differently. Like D.Frog

It's Sasquatch!

It’s Sasquatch!

Every new class I teach is like embarking upon a new adventure mind trip.

It’s good to re-visit familiar terrain from a wholly different angle. Here, I do it upside-down, sideways, anyway-but-regular. I see it as the ultimate brain synapse challenge. Like quickie sit-ups, with a lilt!

For instance, I love drawing from Emberley.  In each of the following, we start with the letter D, step-by-step. . . but holding the book itself upside down.

This is the way to see PURE SHAPE. Forget about the end result entirely.

Fact: Guess who has the hardest time doing the above — from all the people who’ve taken my illustration class — the artists, or the writers? The seasoned artists. Not all of them, but just a few. Why? It’s unfamiliar, not envisioning the end-result. These renegades then discover they are falling back into old patterns of drawing, unwilling to try something new. I remind them that this is the way to venture into new terrain. To discover new possibilities in drawing. How letting go of certain drawing habits will set them free. And when they allow it to happen, they smile. Inevitably.

Try any of the following. Bonus:  If you render these, purely as shape, you can do them in ANY size, from tiny to titanic — no sizing tools needed!


A turtle...

A turtle…

Then notice how these same shapes re-occur in everything around you. . . .

A mouse. . .

A mouse. . .

Or a porcupine

Or a porcupine



These images are progressive drawings from Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Animals, © 1970 by Edward R. Emberley, animated as .GIFs . This book is the required textbook at my UCSD Extension class, Illustrating Books for Children. I think everyone needs this book in their lives. Follow each step. Watch it change the way you see your world.

http://www.amazon.com/Ed-Emberleys-Drawing-Book-Animals/dp/0316789798/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1388183051&sr=1-2&keywords=ed+emberley+drawing+books

Countdown to Highlights!

So excited. I’m taking part in the Ultimate Walden Pond Experience at the Advanced Illustrators Workshop at the Highlights Foundation, August 28-September 2nd.

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Been brainstorming with the amazing Cindy Smith on the illustration exercises (I call them Guerrilla Work-outs) I will lead on-site. I sent my proposal to Cindy, and within minutes, she shoots back “WONDERFUL.” She’s my soul sister.

I’m blessed. Look at the illustrators I’m accompanying: E.B. Lewis and Matt Tavares. . .

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Here’s Matt …

and E.B. in action…

and here I am.

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But before the immersion begins, conferees are treated to an insider peek at the inner workings of Highlights Magazine and Boyds Mills Press. Here’s editor Linda Rose, specifying what gets published in Highlights. She’s looking for full color visual ideas via their picture puzzler feature. Hey you editorial illustrators, here’s an opportunity! Every submission to this feature will be considered. Think visual witticism. Tell Linda you heard it here…

More tomorrow.

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From UCSD Extension: An Interview with Joy Chu *

Joy Chu:


*  NOTE: The above is from an interview that was featured in UCSD Extension’s Blog last fall, just before I began teaching the on-line version of my class, “Illustrating Books for Children”/Winter 2013 Quarter. Special thanks to UCSD Extension for allowing me to re-blog this feature. — JC


Illustrating Books for Children / Art 40011 Instructor:  Joy Chu June 26-August 21 Wednesdays, 6:30pm-9:30pm extension.ucsd.edu  Register before June 25!

Illustrating Books for Children / Art 40011
/
Instructor:  Joy Chu
/ June 26-August 21
/
Wednesdays, 6:30pm-9:30pm
/
extension.ucsd.edu

Register before June 25!

________________________________________

Originally posted on UC San Diego Extension:

“Sure, it’s simple, writing for kids…just as simple as bringing them up.” – Ursula K. LeGuin

We recently had a chat with art director, graphic designer, and UC San Diego Extension instructor Joy Chu about her taste in children’s literature and for some advice on entering the field. Joy teaches children’s book illustration online and onsite for us. Here’s what she has to say about working in the business:

1) What’s your favorite children’s book and why?

Tough one. I keep discovering new favorites. A few have remained timeless:

Because it carries themes on multiple levels that both young ones and adults can relate to. It has pitch perfect text. His “monsters” are friendly, and cuddly, while the main character, Max, is the real monster, and he too is tamed by the end of the book. Totally minimal. But every word, every…

View original 427 more words

On Inspirations and My Upcoming Class…

ASL-hola

Greetings! If you live, work, or are vacationing this summer in the San Diego area, consider creating stories with pictures at my class, on the beautiful campus of UCSD in La Jolla!

Illustrating Books for Children
Instructor:  Joy Chu
June 26-August 21
Wednesday evenings, 6:30pm-9:30pm
extension.ucsd.edu
Register before June 25!
 
A section of UCSD campus at night
_________________________
 

Inspiration is Everywhere!

During last winter’s 2013 class at UCSD Extension, I asked my students to locate the CIP book summary from any picture book, and use it as the inspiration for an eight-panel wordless picture story.

CIP (pronouncedsip”) is book publishing jargon for the Library of Congress Publishing Cataloging-in-Publication Data. This is found within the copyright page text of every book. It features a well-constructed one-phrase synopsis of the book’s theme.

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Here is an example. One student, Aijung Kim, selected the following CIP summary from Chalk by Bill Thompson. While she didn’t read the book, she knew from its cover that it featured a dinosaur. She transported her setting to a beach…

Book Summary:  A wordless picture book about three children who go to a park on a rainy day, find some chalk, and draw pictures that come to life.

Here’s what she came up with:

Aijung Kim’s 8-panel wordless story, created during Joy Chu’s class, Illustrating Books for Children, at UCSD Extension (right-click image to enlarge)

Another student, Fnu Anisi, enchanted by Kevin HenkesKitten’s First Full Moon, wanted to explore an eight page wordless re-telling.

Book summary:  When Kitten mistakes the full moon for a bowl of milk, she ends up tired, wet, and hungry trying to reach it.

Here are Anisi’s results:

(Right-click to enlarge)

Fnu Anisi’s 8-page wordless story, created at Joy Chu’s UCSD Extension class (Right-click to enlarge)

At my upcoming summer 2013 UCSD Extension class (June 26-August 21), Illustrating Books for Children (ART 40011) we might look into creating an advent-styled calendar as a possible inspiration for creating a picture story.

Example: Look at the one Zachariah OHora created from his own story. Fun, yes?

Many thanks to Zachariah OHora and Julie Danielson for sharing the above image.

Creating a 3D model for your story setting can also serve as an invaluable reference in plotting out your narrative, as well as a guide in drawing scenes from a variety of perspectives. Note how illustrator Sophie Blackall created a diorama for her work-in-progress. She can view her characters from above!

(photo © PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved)

Author/illustrator Barbara McClintock builds cut-paper replicas of her illustrations, in composing her scenes. The following sequence is from her studies for an upcoming book, Adèle and Simon in China (all 3 photos below © Barbara McClintock)

"What do those little flat boats in photos of Tongli really look like? I have to find out by building one."—Barbara McClintock

“What do those little flat boats in photos of Tongli really look like? I have to find out by building one.”—Barbara McClintock

"...Now I can draw the boats in the picture and feel some sense of confidence in what I'm doing/seeing..."

“…Now I can draw the boats in the picture and feel some sense of confidence in what I’m doing/seeing…”

Tongli, China, circa 1908, as drawn by Barbara McClintock

Tongli, China, circa 1908, as drawn by Barbara McClintock

Here’s Tove Jansson, creating reference models for her fabulous Moomin stories.

MOOMIN_collage


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 ____________________
Illustrating Books for Children / Art 40011
Instructor:  Joy Chu
June 26-August 21
Wednesdays, 6:30pm-9:30pm
extension.ucsd.edu

Register before June 25!

illustration by Debbie Tilley

 

From On-Line to HANDS-ON: Let’s Draw Stories!

Register NOW for Joy Chu's hands-on workshop, Illustrating Books for Children, Wednesday evenings 6:30-9:30pm, 6/28-8/21/13, extension.ucsd.edu, ART 40011. Immerse yourself!

Exercise your art chops!

Summer Solstice! What could be better after a full day’s work (or sunning & surfing — hey, we’re in San Diego!), or sight-seeing around San Diego, than hunkering down, and drawing pictures with other passionate story-tellers?

We’ll do hands-on drawing-and-sharing, in class, in person, at the beautiful UCSD Extension campus in La Jolla, CA. Examine the latest picture books, plus a few timeless classics. And address aspects of the current children’s book market.


Join us!

Class:        Children’s Book Illustration – ART-40011
Instructor:  Joy Chu
Dates:       June 26 – August 21  (9 meetings)
Day:           Wednesdays
Time:         6:30pm – 9:30pm
Location:  Extension, Room 128


Required books: 

Writing with Pictures: How to Write and Illustrate Children’s Books (paperback) :: Uri Shulevitz   ISBN: 9780823059355

Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Animals (paperback)
:: Ed Emberley   ISBN: 9780316789790

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Don’t delay, sign up today!
Purchase textbooks @ UCSD Bookstore,
or at amazon.com

extension.ucsd.edu.  Register now.
Ask about ART 40011

Fee:  $250 / $275 after 6/10/13


Kids’ Choices for Best Books!

Irma Black award, designed by Maurice Sendak

The Irma Black award, designed by Maurice Sendak

The kids have spoken!

The Irma Black Award, given by The Bank Street School,  is unusual in that children are the final judges of the winning book.  This year’s award went to Big Mean Mike, written by Michelle Knudsen and illustrated by Scott Magoon.  More than 7,500 first and second graders around the world voted  Big Mean Mike as their clear favorite.

There were three other Irma Black honor books, also chosen by kids themselves:

The Cook Prize medal, designed by Brian Floca

Children also choose The Cook Prize winners, sponsored by The Bank Street School:  The best science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) picture books published for children aged eight to ten. This year’s winner is:

The honor winners are:

Congratulations to all the winners!

Hot tip: Know your anatomy!

rodriguez_swingA working knowledge of anatomy will give any illustrator a solid foundation upon which to hone one’s drawing skills. The possibilities are infinite, as long as you begin with the basic skills first.6201816155

Case-in-point:  Check out this interview with multi-talented artist Edel Rodriguez here. Then check out his portfolios and blog here.

Note the variety of moves he applies to his character, Sergio, a penguin who loves soccer!sergio_rodriguez-2

 All illustrations © Edel Rodriguez