More costuming characters

artofcreatingheroes

I’m continuing my artist-in-residence at a local school, helping a Grade 5/6 class create heroic characters through drawing, writing, and prop building.

In week 2, we began the process of building props for the characters and designing costumes. The students really embraced this project. When I came in for my third week, I saw all sorts of wonderful designs. One student even used an old doll to make a mannequin for her character’s costume.

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Another student brought in a model car and sunglasses that he will use as part of his display for his hot-rodding character (he added a few of the character’s tools in the trunk).

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You can see other examples of the students’ brainstorming in the photos below, including interesting key props and some character designs.

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In Workshop 3, I taught the students some illustration techniques to help them with their drawings. Their task is to create a model sheet showcasing different expressions of their characters and to also draw their heroes in one key pose.

This has proved to be a challenging part of the project, mostly because of the patience involved. I’ll have to continue working with them next week on this illustration part of the project.

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A portal passport to adventure!

I thought I would post more illustrations from my project for the BC Library’s Summer Reading Club.

The theme is “Book a Trip” and the library team and I came up with the concept of a “portal passport” that can transform into various vehicles that will carry our crew of critters on adventures around the world—and beyond it.

In an earlier post, I showed some of the rough pencil sketches of some of the vehicles I’ve been working on. Here are some “final” versions, inked and painted, including one image that shows the portal passport in its various stages of transformation. (I say “final” because, of course, nothing is final until it goes to print! I’m sure there will be lots of composition and colour tweaking to come.)

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All of these pieces will be included in the overall poster design and some of the other marketing material for the library’s campaign. Slowly but surely, everything’s coming together . . .

 

Costuming characters

artofcreatingheroes

I’m currently working as an artist-in-residence at a local school, helping a Grade 5/6 class create heroic characters. In the first week, we started by brainstorming. In the second workshop, we really cranked up the fun factor, tackling our characters from the perspective of costumes and props.

To help with this, I brought in my gadget kit and my costume kit. The gadget kit is essentially just a box of stuff that other people throw out—odds and ends like milk bottle caps, wires, pipes, plastic rollers . . . you name it. All of this looks like junk, until you add it to something like this:

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The above contraption is a piece I built for my wife’s halloween costume. None of my students are building something quite so elaborate, but are concentrating on more achievable things, such as smaller gizmos, such as decorated keys. (I found these really expensive keys from the craft store and many of the kids have hot-glued plastic jewels or metal gears to give them an other-worldly look.)

The other fun part of this class was costume design. I brought in a kit of fabric swatches, buttons, and hair samples and the students have collected samples to go along side the character profiles they are developing. The students had a lot of fun picking out the exact hair color of their characters and the different textures for their clothing. This gave them a different way to visualize their characters and helped enrich their understanding of them, too.

Here’s some of the photos from all the marvelous mayhem . . .

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One of the students informed me that this was her favorite project all year (which I could tell because her and entire group of friends opted to skip recess to keep working on their designs.)

For the next workshop, we will be concentrating on illustration tips and techniques.

The art of creating heroes

artofcreatingheroes

One of the projects I’m working on this fall is an artist-in-residency at a local elementary school. This is a neat five-week project in which I work with a single classroom of Grade 5 and 6 students to develop and design heroic characters. Our end project is to create a detailed display that will show the different aspects of the character, including a written profile, a detailed illustration, a pose and expression model sheet, and some three-dimensional props.

For the first session, I introduced the topic by discussing famous characters from literature and film and showing some of the common traits and themes we find in those characters’  journeys. I also showed the students how I came to develop some of my own heroic characters, not only in my Kendra Kandlestar series, but for a new book I’m working on. I brought in a stack of my brainstorming journals and the students were able to flip through and discover some of my different character-building pages.

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Afterwards, the students were each given their own sketchbooks and they set to work doing some brainstorming of their own, concentrating on unique abilities, specific physical traits, and interesting names. (I’m a big believer in interesting names!)

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We’ve actually already completed the second workshop, in which we attacked our character design from a tactile perspective, building props and imagining costumes. But I will talk about in a separate post—I’ve been so busy, I’m playing catch up!

Poster design for the Summer Reading Club

I’m hard at work on the illustrations for the BC library system’s 2016 summer reading club. In previous posts, I chronicled the development and design of the characters that are going to populate the different material: the poster, the reading record, and so forth. The theme is “travel.”

Those characters have been approved, so now I’m working on the design of the poster. (The other material will come next; the poster is the most important piece.)

Here are some of my initial concepts:

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As you can see, I was toying with the idea of a vertical design and a steampunk frame. I liked the idea of the book transforming into a plane, and that seems to be the part everyone on the library team has been agreeing on.

They asked me to make the frame even more steampunk, but to try and avoid gears since gears played very heavily in their concept from last year. So it’s been quite a challenge to make something looked steampunk without the quintessential symbol of that genre. But I think I’ve got it now, as can be seen in this cobbled together version of the poster:

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No gears! I decided to make the poster horizontal, to stretch out process of transformation from the portal passport into the plane. The library team asked for one additional stage of transformation between the book and the plane; initially, I wasn’t sure if that could be fit in, but I think it does work quite nicely.

In the corner of the poster, I’ve added some insets of different vehicles that the portal passport might transform into. I had originally sketched some images of our crew—the flying squirrel, travel bug, and polar bear—in different locales, but the library team wants to avoid any perceived stereotypes. So do I, I suppose. Though I did like my polar bear wearing his traditional peaked Asian hat. (For me this wasn’t meant to perpetuate a stereotype, but a homage to my own travels in Asia. I wear those hats all the time when I’m in Asia; they’re really good at keeping out the heat.)

In any case, we’re going to try and represent travel through these different vehicles being in different landscapes. Hence the submarine in water, the rocket in space, and the walker in the jungle:

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Now I’m hard at work inking and colourizing the individual components. It’s all coming together, slowly but surely. Which is good—I have less than three weeks to complete!

Legends & Lore from the Land of Een

Legends & Lore - Kindle CoverThroughout the month of October, I was celebrating the ten-year-anniversary of my Kendra Kandlestar series. But what’s an anniversary without gifts? So what makes a good gift for such a momentous occasion?

How about a brand-new never-before-released Kendra Kandlestar book?

FOR FREE.

Yep! You can download “Legends & Lore from the Land of Een” for FREE from your favorite digital provider. Or, you can even download a PDF, directly from the Kendra Kandlestar website.

This book is a companion book to the series. It includes some favorite stories, myths, and tales from the Land of Een. A few fan-favorite characters pop up here and there, too. Most of the material comes from existing stories and notes, things that I had written to help build the world of Kendra Kandlestar, but couldn’t be included in the actual books. I’m glad there is finally a place for at least some of these stories.

This is especially for all those young readers who have kept sending in their letters asking for more Kendra Kandlestar, even after five books. Well, this gift is for you.