Thursday, November 21, 2013

Dino Tracks & Dino Treasures

Facebook banner for Dino Tracks' book launch at the Smithsonian 

In the last post I mentioned that I was excited about the book launch for Dino Tracks at the Smithsonian. It was originally scheduled for October 12 and then came the government shut down. So now we have a new date, December 7 and it sounds even better because it's part of a larger weekend holiday celebration. There's going to be musical performances, films, book signings, trunk shows, crafts for kids and more. I won't be able to make this one but Rhonda Lucas Donald, the amazing author of Dino Tracks will be there with bells on.

And if you'd like some background into how Dino Tracks was created here's an interview by Sylvan Dell Publishing and a radio interview, with the author, Rhonda Lucas Donald. Enjoy!

Now for a sneak peek at Dino Treasures, also written by Rhonda Lucas Donald, published by Sylvan Dell Publishing and illustrated by me which comes out autumn 2014.
I'll be showing more artwork along the way. It's all very much in progress for now.
Thanks for taking a look. I hope you like dinosaurs.
Front and back cover wrap image
I wanted to give you a little behind the scenes of what it's like illustrating a picture book for Sylvan Dell Publishing. Their picture books are fun stories to read but also very popular in schools, libraries and museum gift shops. So they need to be correct. To ensure this they are vetted by an expert in their field. In this case it's a paleontologist - that's a person who studies the history of life on Earth based on fossils. But most paleontologists specialize in one aspect of their field. Some paleontologists specialize in dinosaur poop, otherwise known as fossilized feces or coprolite. They're called Coprologists. Other fields of study are paleobotany, the study of plants, or micropaleontology, the study of organisms with only one cell. It goes on and on. So my editor sends each spread to a specialist to make sure both Rhonda, the author and I have done our research and what we're showing is correct. And if it's not correct we fix it.
Interior spread of Sue the T-rex. Sue was discovered by paleontologist, Sue Hendrickson in 1990, so that's how she got the nickname, Sue. She's also one of the best preserved Tyrannosaurs rex specimens ever found.
I'm just showing you a small section of the comments from a paleontologist at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, the home of Sue. The scientist who vetted this went to a lot of in-depth facts about Sue - how she lived, her injuries and how they suspect she died. I'm always fascinated as well as intimidated by what the vetters have to say. I really hope that what I show is accurate so I don't have to redo the artwork. But much better to rework the art before going to press so that we're all happy with the final picture book. Thanks for taking a look!
Interior spread with vetter's comments

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Above and below

Interior spread for The Wild Prairie That Nature Built
I haven't posted in awhile so here you go. Please click on the images for enlarged views. Otherwise there are a lot of details that will get lost in this small format. I'm working on this book at the same time I'm illustrating a sequel to Dino Tracks called Dino Treasures. Both come out fall 2014 and are a lot of fun to illustrate, lots of interesting underground, hidden earth images.
Interior spread for The Wild Prairie That Nature Built with book turned sideways. 
And then you take the book and turn it side ways and voila! You have a long visual with the gutter of the book breaking the illustration down the center - above ground and below ground. This is something I've always wanted to try and finally got the opportunity. Thank you Dawn Publishing!

Yes, we're still holding the book sideways....
Ok, enough with the verticals. Please return your book to its upright position. Thank you.
Grazers from The Wild Prairie That Nature Built
I'm going to stop here with images from this book. After this spread comes some dramatic twists and turns. If you look closely you get a hint of what happens next. Don't want to give away more than I need to.

Also, I'm back to doing school, library and museum visits.  It's always fun to connect with kids, parents, teachers and librarians. I'm especially excited about Dino Tracks' book launch at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History at 1pm on October 12! So please come to that if you're in the area. I'll be presenting along with Rhonda Lucas Donald with a book signing afterwards.

Thanks for taking a look!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Just this close to being finished with artwork for Daisylocks

Since I'm almost done with the art for Daisylocks I figure it's time to procrastinate a little before  finishing the last spread. So I'm posting some more images from the book.
Not enough room to spread out

Too busy and crowded

Daisy decides to look for some place better to put down roots.
And last but not least, I'm showing you the very first spread from Daisylocks as my last image on the blog - hope that makes sense. I'm not showing everything from the book but you get a good feel for how the book will look. And I won't be showing the final spread. You'll have to wait until Spring 2014 to see if Daisylocks finds a place that's "just right".

Thanks for taking a look, hope you enjoyed the art. It's always fun to collaborate on another book with Marianne Berkes.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Sneak peek of The Wild Prairie that Nature Built

The Wild Prairie that Nature Built by Marybeth Lorbiecki
(Click on the image for a full view)

Here's the first illustration for The Wild Prairie that Nature Built, a new picture book and app with a new publisher, at least new for me. The publisher is Dawn Publications and I've been a huge fan of their children's books for years.

 Marybeth Lorbiecki is the author and I wasn't familiar with her until reading her manuscript and now I'm a fan of hers as well.

I'll be posting more illustrations along the way. Look for it Fall 2014!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Next Big Thing - A Global Blog Tour!

The Next Big Thing blog tour began in Australia and has wound it's way all around the world to Northern Colorado. It's a great way to discover authors and illustrators that you might not be familiar with and what their latest book is about. Each author, or in my case, illustrator, answers ten questions and tags two more authors who will continue the tour. So this week it's my turn to talk about my next big thing, Dino Tracks.

Thank you Nancy Oswald for tagging me! Now on to the question and answer part of the blog.

What is the working title of your next book?

Dino Tracks, written by Rhonda Lucas Donald and illustrated by me.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I'm the illustrator of Dino Tracks so that question really belongs to Rhonda, the author. But for my part when I got the manuscript and read through it I fell in love with it. Then my next realization was I knew absolutely nothing about dinosaurs or their trackways. So I started researching. Then I discovered that illustrators who specialize in paleo-art are the best artists in the world. I was extremely intimidated and hoped I could get up to speed with dinosaur art before the publisher realized they made a huge mistake by giving me this very cool story to illustrate.

What genre does your book fall under?

Dino Tracks is a children's picture book, approximately for ages four and up. It can be sung to the tune of "Over the River and Through the Woods" which is pretty amazing considering all the scientific information it contains. It will come out this fall, 2013. Click on the illustrations to see the full image.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

My first thought is Godzilla, but I'm pretty sure he's technically a mutant lizard and now we know that dinosaurs evolved from birds. Probably Pixar should do an animated version of Dino Tracks. That would be good.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Step back in time, following dinosaur tracks around the world, to discover clues to the movement and behavior of these ancient creatures.

Who is publishing your book?

Sylvan Dell Publishing is the publisher. They specialize in picture books that inspire reading and integrate science, math and geography. At the end of each story is a Creative Minds educational section with teaching activities and interactive quizzes.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Illustrating Dino Tracks took about eight months total. I did work on other projects at the time but it was still fairly time consuming, mainly because of research. Sylvan Dell has all their books verified by experts; in this case it was Jeffrey A. Wilson, a paleontology expert at the University of Michigan. They took my roughs to him which he corrected so I could make revisions before going to final artwork. Then he checked them again at the end. So there's different stages and sometimes you wait a while between stages. Also I went to the Morrison Natural History Museum specifically to see their baby Stegosaurus trackways and was blown away by their exhibits. They have a very hands on policy and it's an entirely different experience when you can get up close and personal, touching and handling the dinosaur bones and tracks. And Matthew Mossbrucker, the museum director let us go back into their lab where he was excavating a new Apatosaurus discovery (which they named Kevin). Illustrating a children's book involves more than just drawing.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I can think of a couple of books; one is Tracks in the Sand by Loreen Leedy. It's not about dinosaurs, but sea turtles. It's beautifully illustrated and by following the tracks you discover a lot about the life of the sea turtle. A second is book is Time Flies by Eric Rohmann. This received a Caldecott Honor Medal and is a wordless picture book. On a stormy night a bird flies into the dinosaur hall of a museum. As we follow the bird, time unravels and the dinosaurs come to life. Both of these books are amazing!

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Ok, another question for the author... but from my perspective, Rhonda's words were truly inspiring to draw from. She's such a visual writer that images popped into my head as soon as I read through her manuscript. Plus she doesn't talk to down to her audience of young kids, but gives a lot facts in a fun and memorable way. I'm really looking forward to the book release this fall so it can get into the hands of readers and singers too for that matter. I had the tune of "Over the River and Through the Woods" running through my head the entire time I was working on it.

What else about the book might pique the reader's interest? 

I know kids love dinosaurs but I think it's very empowering for them to realize they can actually explore tracks made millions of years ago to make new discoveries about animals and the evolution of prehistoric earth. Reading about dinosaurs is just the beginning.

Also, I don't know if I should be telling you this, and I won't give any details, but I know for a fact there's already a sequel in the works!

And I'm very excited to introduce you to Shennen Bersani an amazing illustrator that will tell you about one of her latest books, Shark Baby. We'll find out more on her blog on June 20.

So tag, you're it, Shennen!

And last but not least will be Darcy Pattison's blog on June 27 where we'll find out more about her and her latest picture book, Desert Baths.

Thanks for stopping by and reading The Next Big Thing Blog tour. Your support means a lot!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

One spread down, twelve more to go!

My "before" rough sketch for DaisyLocks interior spread
My "after" illustration following comments from the publisher
I wanted to show you part of my process when illustrating a picture book. I've already done my storyboards in Indesign and those have been revised and approved. Now I'm working on individual spreads. My rough is really loose. I've worked with Sylvan Dell before so they understand my shorthand roughs and have a good idea of how I'll finish the artwork. Their comments were to have more emphasis on plants than animals. So I took out a scorpion in the middle ground and added more plants. Since I work in Painter I've isolated various images on different layers; like the plants, turtle, background, daisy blowing in the wind, etc. This way Sylvan Dell can easily pull out parts to use for their creative minds sections for teachers and home schoolers. Also, when illustrating I have to keep in mind where the type will be (in the lower left hand side of the spread) and that the book folds right down the middle, referred to as the gutter. Books are a lot like life, you don't want something important falling in the gutter.

One spread down, twelve more to go!

Wind blows daisy seed from a hot environment to the cold arctic. Do you think this will work for her?

Make that two down, eleven to go.

Daisy's not ready to put down roots just yet.
Three down, on to the next one.

Blowing around looking for just the right spot....
Four finished spreads! You can click on the images to see the full art.

This spot looks promising, but not quite right. Still looking....
Five spreads done. I always feel better when I'm past the halfway mark. Still have a way to go.

Wind blows Daisy to another possible new home... Could this be the place? Probably not.
This is the last illustration I'll show for DaisyLocks for awhile. I'm currently going back and forth between two books for two different publishers with a third about to start. Not that I'm complaining, mind you, but it's summer in Colorado and I need to get out and play a bit. Thanks again for taking a look at my blog!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Daisylocks by Marianne Berkes, illustrated by Cathy Morrison,
Sylvan Dell Publishing
Here's a cover concept for a new book coming out Spring 2014. I won't go into a lot of details yet but you'll be seeing more along the way. Plus there's two more trade books in the works for next year as well. There's a whole lot of drawing going on.