Friday, March 15, 2013

Knee Deep in Picture Books

The picture book is a curious beast.

I’ve been working hard these past weeks on the illustrations for Julia’s House. They are big ink-and-watercolor pictures and making them gives me that “real artist” feeling that you only get from splashing around with pigments. (I can do some nice-looking work with my Cintiq, but that sense of danger is lost when you have an “undo” button).

Picture books are a unique and intimate blend of words and pictures. (So are graphic novels, but they are a different blend). I thought I had Julia’s House written. But as I translate my scribbly, sometimes unintelligible sketches into finished artwork I’m surprised by how much more of the story is being told.

Here, then, are links to two short videos featuring masters of the craft talking about what they do:

First, the most excellent Helen Oxenbury and what the illustrator lends to the text. Guys, she has a fireplace in her studio!

Second, this cool guy Oliver Jeffers, and a video that features his cool studio, his cool hair and cool motorcycle and cool way of hunting sandwiches. Sigh...

Finally here are some pictures and an odd mini robot comic. I’ve started the occasional creative warm up exercise of just starting tiny comics in my notebook without knowing what they are going to be. You draw a box and fill it with a picture. Then you draw another box...


desktop


A doodle of Julia from Julia’s House


inspiration outside my window.

21 comments:

Faith E. Hough said...

Ah...the fireplace. THAT must be Helen Oxenbury's secret to success. :) Personally, I write all my best things in front of a crackling fire!
I love the Julia sketches. Can't wait to see the book!

Ben Hatke said...

Anyone who gets to write near a crackling fire is lucky.

I wrote this blog post in our family/dining room, next to the furnace that sounds like a jet engine.

Chris said...

Do you have a woodburning stove? Cause I had the weirdest dream last night that your wife was making us the best peanut butter cookies ever and then we had to go mail some pies.
They were amazing!

Anonymous said...
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umzug said...
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Matt said...

Do you have a publisher in mind for Julia's House?

Ben Hatke said...

Oh yes. Julia's House will be published by Roaring Brook. I signed up for this book at the same time I signed up to do Zita 3.

Matt Phelan said...

1. Helen Oxenbury. One of the all-time greats. Her Alice is my favorite.
2. Oliver Jeffers is cooler than all of us. Also, he's damn good.
3. Can't wait to see your picture book!

Ben Hatke said...

Thanks, Matt!

Yes to Helen Oxenbury. I haven't taken a close look at her version of Alice, but Bear Hunt is popular around these parts and I've been thinking about it a lot as an example of a GREAT picture book. Tone, pacing, mood, repetition, rich artwork and spare text...

Skye said...

The words "Zita 3" make my household very happy! And we're so looking forward to what you do with Julia's House as well!

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