Designing characters for the BC Library’s Summer Reading Club ~ Round 1

While I was touring through England and Ireland last month, I was approached with a delightful project: to illustrate the material for the library’s 2016 Summer Reading Club. It would mean following in some pretty big footsteps; in past years, the library has worked with some pretty talented illustrators: Jeremy Tankard, Shayne Letain, and Mike Deas—just to name a few.

However, I simply had to take this project. After all, the theme is “TRAVEL” . . . and I’ve done quite a bit of that recently (including being on an overseas trip when the project was offered). It just seemed a good fit!

The project is not without its challenges, since I need to design characters and produce illustrations that will speak to a wide age range, different cultural sensibilities, and both boys and girls. I decided I would chronicle each of the stages, as much as I can, on my blog . . . so here goes! Round 1 . . .

The first idea I came up with for a character was a “travel bug.” Here are some my sketches:

bug-01 bug-02 bug-03 bug-04 bug-05 bug-06

Of course, the other thing I thought about is a general cast of animal characters, things that you might find in your backyard. So here’s my collection of rodents and other critters:

bat flyingsquirrel mouse snail worm

Our end task will be to come up with a team of three characters that are on a travel adventure. I have this idea of them using this steampunked book as a sort of portal passport. I haven’t gotten too far down the road of that design since I have been mostly concentrating on the characters, but here are a couple of sketches:

book gangflying

So far, the team at the library has liked a lot of the designs . . . I just need to make sure they’re not too cute so I can hit that “tween” audience. Yep, that’s a challenge, because I still need to interest the younger kids, too.

Well, as they say, back to the drawing board . . .

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