Progress Report

A bad drawing

Spread9ASketch The above is a sketch I did for my upcoming picture book, As Yet Untitled Wildly Successful Pig Vehicle. It depicts the untitular pig reading upside-down atop a statue of a proletarian accountant (it makes sense in context) (sort of).

Keen viewers will notice the building behind the statue's left arm has been left unfinished. And with good reason: I gave up on it. Why? Because this drawing is what we refer to in the illustration business as "irredeemably bad."

Here's the same scene again, with the bad removed:


So what's the difference? Why is the bottom illustration more engaging that the top?

Lots of reasons: cooler-looking buildings, the first statue has that dumb tie, etc. But the most important reason, especially for a picture book, is that the original illustration has no obvious subject. The statue, pig, and buildings are all vying for the viewers' attention. So what was needed was a better composition to direct the eyes to the subject of the illustration.

Creating a composition with a clear subject can be done using color (putting a warm-colored subject on a cool-colored background, or vice versa), tone (putting a dark subject on a light background, or vice versa), by arranging the elements of the piece to frame or point to the subject, or some combination of the three.

Subtle artists will nuance the image elements so the viewers won't even know they're being guided. On the other hand, I basically made the statue into a giant arrow pointing at the pig.


And in case you didn't get it, the building below the pig also points in his direction. Nearly every element points towards the tiny pig. LOOK AT THE PIG, GUYS.

Of course, there's many examples of great illustrations that straight-up flaunt compositional clarity and still end up looking dope. But this is how I work. And this is why I work slo-o-owly.


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Cover song

The final piece of the puzzle before I head to London for my class's gallery show at Foyles Bookstore. For the book cover, I wanted to strike a vintage chord without going too far overboard. I'm no Saul Bass. More of a Saul Guppy.

I also wanted to introduce Melvin himself, give a sense of his personality before the story even begins. Hey! What a fun-loving, musical goat! Who's also ambidextrous! Huh. Okay.

For the strictly-hypothetical published version of the book, I hope to have the purple area of the tuxedo cut out, exposing a small part of a completely purple and velvety hardbound cover beneath. I'd also hope the sunburst design surrounding the tux would be stamped in gold foil, and that the book itself would be sprayed with some sort of consumeristic pheromone that would force anyone within a 10-foot radius to buy a copy. As long as we're in the realm of the hypothetical here.


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Shop talk

Just in time for Christmas, here's the final version of the sketch I posted a few weeks back. I'm sure many of you can empathize with the condition these goats have found themselves in. Just wish I had the foresight to give one of the goats a canister of pepper spray.

Initially, the goats were to be surrounded by logos for the various stores they patronized, but I found the logos cluttered up the page too much (plus, I wasn't a huge fan of how they turned out). If the book ever gets published, I'll instead include them as a pattern for the front endpapers, with Melvin's favorite album covers patterning the back endpapers. In the meantime, here's a sneak peak.

We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of the dreams

At long last, the first completed page of my picturebook!

Here, Melvin's adoration of music is introduced, as we see him experiencing a transcendent moment listening to Frank Sinatra's "That's Life." You can tell it's Frank Sinatra's "That's Life" because I got the score online and reproduced it (almost faithfully) on the scroll of notation enveloping Mel. Beyond that, there are 13 other musical references and/or puns on this page.

How many can you spot?


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Let me give you a Melvin

In contrast to the gluttonous goats from the last post, Melvin Goaté is a connoisseurial consumer. Rhymth! Melodies! Harmonies! MUSIC! That's what Melvin devours, and he wants nothing more than to create music himself. Major redesign from the previous incarnation of Mel, but I think this guy's a bit more compelling (though, maybe that's due to his wardrobe being conspicuously similar to my own). Thinking of doing the whole book in this style: muted watercolors with colored pencil on smooth(ish) paper.

Any thoughts?