Archive for the ‘BOY BOT & BOY’ Category



October 22, 2011

Here is a LINK TO THE DUMMY I’VE BEEN WORKING ON FOR BOY BOY & BOY Once on the first page, keep clicking “NEXT” to go through the story.

This project is a wordless and colorless picture book idea. I like the idea of telling a story strictly through pictures and have greatly enjoyed wordless picture books for a long time: the “A Boy, A Dog and A Frog” series by Mercer Mayer as well as the amazing works of David Wiesner “Free Fall,” “Tuesday” and “Flotsam.”

I’d finished some drawings for Boy Bot & Boy a while ago. I penciled and inked them and then showed them to some friends for notes. I’d find myself often agreeing with these notes and needing to go back and redo the entire image. I therefore decided to complete the whole book by making a dummy out of notecards.

Getting criticism on the dummy in notecard form is much more efficient as I can make changes very easily. I’ve been slowly completing pencil drawings from the notecards and updating the images in the online dummy. Once all the pencils are done, I will return to the inking.

I find it’s important to play around with the images and leave them rough since they are all I have to tell the story. I can’t suddenly add a few words to make things clearer.

I’ve also been experimenting with building some of the objects that are in the story with Google’s 3d program, Sketchup. I then position the object as I need it in any panel print it out and then trace it. One of the biggest problems with sequential storytelling is to make sure things are consistent. By creating the object in 3D, I ensure that it doesn’t change shape or size.

Some of the drawings in the dummy are very, very rough, but I hope they can still effectively tell the story.




May 26, 2011

In looking over a SCBWI calendar, I saw that an upcoming Illustrators’ schmooze was going to feature a picture book dummy review. I really wanted to go and I had a project I’d been working on for a while – a wordless juvenile graphic novel – which was ripe for feedback. I’d been progressing one illustration at a time and was quite far from having a full dummy to show….but felt I should attend anyway.

Instead of showing up with a half-completely (who we kidding? One-quarter completed) dummy, I decided to simply sketch my way through the rest of the illustrations.

I had a number of rough pencils in my sketchbook that I knew I could scan in and add to the pile of finishes illustrations, but there were still lots and lots of pictures that I hadn’t even conceptualized in my head yet. My first reaction was to keep working in my sketchbook until I had them all done, but the idea kind of frightened me.

The danger of sketchbooks is that artists can think of them as precious. The notion of “wasting” a Moleskine page doesn’t sit well with many of us. No matter how much we tell ourselves that it’s perfectly fine to go through a number of bad ideas in a sketchbook in order to get to a good one, it can sometimes be difficult not to dream of future generations of art historians going through our sketchbooks and marveling at how skilled we were – even when drawing loosely. Part of us wants our sketchbook pages to demonstrate a command of anatomy and form like George Bridgman and feature expressions to be as lively as one of Disney’s “nine old men.” We want future scholars to write articles proving that our sketchbook scribbles of molds for giant bronze monuments would have worked.

There is a famous story that R Crumb traded some of his sketchbooks for a house in France. When we sketch in our sketchbook, have to fight against our brain saying “is this drawing ‘house-in-France’ good?'”

And that is where notecards come in handy. Notecards simply do not carry the burden of being precious.

When writing, my main mantra is “let it suck.” I’ve consistently found it easier to write something I’m satisfied with by rewriting a horrible first draft than to create something good out of thin air (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve rewritten this blog post.) I wanted to apply that thinking to my drawing.

By using cheap notecards, I felt confident I could indeed let my drawing suck and not be critical about it. If a drawing on a notecard is a complete disaster, one merely needs to turn it over. If a drawing fails on both sides of the notecard, one can feel confident that discarding the card into the trash (or, hopefully, the recycling bin) will prevent art historians of the future from linking us to the travesty.

The goal in blasting through a number of drawings on notecards is to visually create a beginning, middle and end to a story. Invariably, you’ll have ideas already in mind for some of the illustration and only have story beats for others. When I get to illustrations where I have no picture already in my head, I’ll start by writing what needs to happen in the picture on one side of the notecard and put them off until I feel inspired.

The exciting thing about sprint drawing is that it is a completely different experience than laboring over one picture for a long time. Your mind just doesn’t have time to be critical and you become a different artist. You go into idea-and-design mode and don’t have time to be influenced by the quality of the drawing itself.

The result is often some pretty horrible drawings. But some of the sketches on your notecards will turn out to NOT be horrible. They will be exciting and dynamic and attract you in ways that you didn’t expect. That the drawings themselves aren’t well-rendered hardly matters – that you are excited about the composition will make you want to step up your game when creating the finished illustration.

As far as the notecards that do result in horrible drawings. That’s okay, too. In quickly examining them, it’s usually not difficult to figure out why they are horrible. And this analysis makes you far more prepared to come up with a new, less-horrible idea for the drawing.

What sometimes happens during this process is that part of the drawing on the notecard is working and you will want to re-draw that portion onto a new notecard. Again, the disposable nature of notecards works in your favor. The more time you put into any illustration – even a sketch – the more difficult it becomes to recognize its problems in telling your story.

It’s also best not to worry about the illustration count. Yeah, most 32 page picture books have 14 illustrations, but at this stage, it’s a far better strategy to get a visual beginning, middle and end to your story visually, and then see where you are. Gauging the storytelling flow of your illustrations is one of the main purposes of creating a picture book dummy and, again, the less you’ve invested the drawings themselves at this stage, the more likely you are to make sound editing decisions.

Once the cards are all staring at you at once (another advantage over sketchbook pages), you can usually see what illustrations are superfluous and also get an idea of what you need to add.

Making a second pass of your illustrations – combining two or more images into one, refining a composition and getting rid of images that don’t work should be completed in the 30 minute time frame.

The faster you get the idea-and design part of your brain to work, the better. If some of the drawings are barely discernible, that’s fine. You’ll now be able to imagine a great illustration in your mind solely from the composition – a composition you probably wouldn’t have been able to dream up if you had more time.



February 14, 2011

Here are a couple of more drawings for BOY-BOT & BOY. I’m drawing all these images separately and will assemble them in Photoshop for a two-page spread. The finished product will feature a big water fight between giant robots and giant monsters. (CLICK TO MAKE BIGGER)



I drew most of the above image at DRINK AND DRAW, a Los Angeles-based drawing club that meets on Thursday nights. I’d wanted to attend for a while and finally made it to Casey’s Pub. If you’re located in LA and like to draw, I’d recommend attending. The gatherings are exactly what you’d expect – a bunch of artists (mostly pros) who get together and drink and draw. What I enjoy most about the group is that you can arrive and do very little drawing if you wish and meet new people and network…or you can be an introverted artist and just sit and draw. How much socializing, drinking or drawing you wish to do is completely up to you.



October 17, 2010

Here’s a completely-hand-drawn panel for BOY-BOT & BOY (as opposed to a drawing in which I start by tracing a screengrab of an environment constructed in Maya.) I’m excited to get a bunch of panels done and then place them all on one canvas and lay out a full page.


Again, my idea is to make this a wordless picture book so I’m focussing trying to tell the story visually. All I’m trying to get across here that the mom wants her son to play outside because it’s such a beautiful day. I believe this is something that kids can relate to, especially the kids of today. Perhaps having a deer in their yard is overkill, but it’s my hope that it comes across as humorous.



October 10, 2010

My new project, “BOY-BOT & BOY” will images of many robots as well as toy robots. It’s made me go back and look at a lot of different robot drawings and photos for reference. Here’s one that I’m quite fond of: a drawing of an unmade toy from the “Machine Robo” line in Japan, which I believe is simply called “Animal Robo.” There are lots of combining (“gattai” in Japanese) robots out there, but this one has to be at the top of the list in terms of the number of (animal) robots that come together to form this guy. Despite the sheer number of parts that make up the whole here, I still find the combined form to be quite harmonious. It’s a shame to me that it never became an actual toy.




October 4, 2010



Above is a drawing of the “shuttle” of Boy-Bot for my story “Boy-Bot And Boy.” Boy-Bot and Boy are playing with toys on the flying saucer of Boy Bot’s family when Boy-Bot’s mom forces them to go outside – since it’s such a beautiful day. They travel from planet to planet to play in Boy-Bot’s shuttle.

The main goal I had in designing the shuttle was to suggest motion. My hope is that a viewer will be able to visualize it taking off – the cockpit closing, the engines firing, the landing gear retracting, the jets rotating, the rudder folding together, the exposed engine wheel spinning, etc.

The aesthetic of the entire project is inspired by the 1970s. I drew an outline of the shuttle first, scanned it in, printed out the scan and then drew the metalflake look on the printout. I scanned the printout and then added the highlights by using the eraser tool in Photoshop with the opacity set very low.

Although the project is planned to be black and white, in my mind the shuttle is bright orangne. The look of the exhaust ports is based on a design by Turbonique, a company often referred to as “The Real Acme.”



September 26, 2010

At the beginning of the year, I joing the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. I’ve gone to many events since joining and have been afforded the opportunity to collect some very useful feedback on a project I’ve been working on called “A Dinosaur Christmas.” One thing I’ve learned about children’s book text is that the trend is for less and less of it. 1000 words used to be acceptable, then it went down to 700 and now 500 is considered standard. It has been a chore for me to keep cutting down the text as the story was originally much more complicated. But I am still trying to play by the rules and don’t believe I’m compromising my vision in doing so.

My process for the pictures was to sketch them out in pencil on 14″ x 17″ paper then ink them using pens of varying line thickness, scan them in and color them on photoshop. My style has been to amp up the detail in the linework. A note I’ve received this year is that the linework is so detailed that it competes with the color in some of the pictures. My thinking is that children’s books are read over and over again and want to give the viewer stuff to look at in subsequent reads. But still, I don’t always disagree and have been striving to making things simpler.

I don’t mind re-doing illustrations – even ones I’ve spent considerable time on. In fact, I think it often results in even stronger illustrations since you’ve actually worked out problems rather than just theorized them.

I honestly try and take notes in stride and improve my work from them. I’m willing to do this because I ask opinions from people I respect. While I’m going to march on and try and make “A Dinosaur Christmas” happen one way or another, the notes on both text and pictures formulated an idea for another project.

I felt a valid way to work around the 500 word limit is to attempt a picture book with no words. I’ve always been impressed with purely visual storytelling in books like Tuesday, Free Fall and Flotsom by David Weisner. I also quite liked the wordless “A Boy a Dog and a Frog” series by Mercer Mayer.

As far as the “too detailed” and “competes with the color” notes, I thought it would be exciting to try a book with no color. Just line. My goal is to strategically (and hopefully “artfully”) incorporate pure white space in the images in order to allow the viewer to enjoy the detail and not be overwhelmed by it. Theoretically, this should play to my strengths.

Another experiment I’m conducting with this project is to construct parts of the world the story takes place in with the 3-D program, Maya. Again, we’ll just have to see if I can pull it off.



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