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Personal Work

With layers to create the setting, individual characters, lighting, filters, camera lenses and settings, there is lots of play that goes into getting my images and sometimes interesting surprises. 

When I am making personal work, I have a fluid process. I begin an illustration by sketching or creating figures. I then build the layers. For the most part, I use ink on Yupo paper, a plastic paper. It has strength, and no grain. It catches the light quite beautifully too. 

Once I have my layers ready, I install them in one of my theatres, like a tiny stage set. My husband has made me several theatres for different purposes, though I usually work in the smallest one. He gave it to me for Christmas in 2009. Below you can see how I play with the composition and lighting during an afternoon working in the theatre. Personal work like this, gives me time to explore ideas and give up some control. I like the element of chance.




When I am working on a book, I work in quite a different way. The first step that publishers need to see are the thumbnails for the cover and the 32 pages of a picture book. These are small sketches that give a general idea of what an illustration will look like. I often do several of these for each page of a book. I like to see how they work together before deciding which to use. In this phase, I'll often work out the general colour palette for the book too.

Then, I go on to the sketches. The art director will have me rework some of the sketches, making sure there is room for text, that there is consistency throughout, a nice balance of perspectives and just a general flow to the book. I like to see where I can give information with the image that might not be in the text. For instance, in the book Red Sky at Night, I wanted to show that the grandfather and his grandchildren caught some fish on their trip, so I included a net and pail in this image.

Once the sketches are approved, I move on to the finals. It generally takes me about 4 months to do this part of a book. It is important that the final illustration be close to the sketch. This is a challenge that I've had to really work at over the years. Since I am dealing with 3 dimensional scenes, I've had to learn a lot about depth, lenses and scale. The nice part about working this way, is that if something isn't quite working, I can adjust it, and rephotograph it. I can also play with the lighting, and find the right atmosphere for a scene.