Magical lenses for a magical adventure

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At the CWC winter camp in Korea, I led a unit on creating interesting heroes. Part of that character-building activity is coming up with gadgets and tools for characters to use.

In an earlier workshop, the students made keys for their characters (to help spark the beginning of an adventure), so for this workshop I decided to have the kids work on a costume bit . . . a pair of goggles with special abilities.

If you think about it, there are a lot of books and films that make use of special lenses. In the Wizard of Oz, the characters have to wear glasses that will protect their eyes from the brilliance of the Emerald City (it turns out the lenses are green, so just add to the mystique of the city). In the Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians series, the characters (called oculators) use a variety of lenses with different powers. Even the new Star Wars movie has a character (Maz Kanata) who uses goggles to help her “see”. I also have a pair of goggles in my own Kendra Kandlestar series; the inventor character (Ratchet) has constructed something called “foggle goggles” to help him pilot his airship through the fog. Of course, the goggles don’t work (they keep . . . er, fogging up).

There are also many books that employ the device of a “seeing stone” to help characters look up on the world in a different way—these books include The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi, Coraline by Nail Gaiman, and Winterling by Sarah Prineas.

So, I bombarded my students with all of this inspiration, and had them design their own goggles by using a standard base and then adding switches, gears, levers . . . well, you name it! Here are some of their creations:

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Steampunk keys at the creative writing camp in Korea

cwc_sign03My wife and I are currently in Korea, teaching at a creative writing camp for young writers, hosted by CWC. One of the first activities I’m working on with the kids is to help them design keys so that they can have a strong spark for their stories.

I brought the keys with me from Canada, along with a bunch of items to help with the decorating process. I’m always amazed at the creativity of kids. Just check out some of the designs!

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Poster illustration for the BC Summer Reading Club

I’m nearing completion of my project for the BC library system’s 2016 summer reading club. I’ve completed most of the individual illustrations and have now cobbled them together to complete one overall composition for the poster.

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The graphic designer will be choosing the font and adding in the text and other required elements. I layered the composition in Photoshop so that individual elements can be nudged here and there to help accommodate the text.

I can’t wait to see the final, printed version!

I’m still fine-tuning some of the individual illustrations. I had a request to show the portal passport vehicle transform into a balloon, so here’s my current rendition:

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The Art of Creating Heroes ~ the finale

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Last week, I wrapped up my artist in residency at Lord Tweedsmuir Elementary. Over the course of five weeks, I helped the students design heroic characters that they can use in an upcoming writing project.

We tackled this design from many different angles. Not only did we draw the characters in different poses and with different expressions, but we built props for them and even thought about costume by choosing hair and fabric samples. I also discussed with them the “Hero’s Journey”, as first developed by the mythologist Joseph Cambell.

In the coming weeks, the students will prepare an exhibit of their heroes, so I’ll return to the school to view the gallery. I can’t wait to see those displays! In the meantime, here are some final photos of their sketchbooks . . .

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Critters abroad

Here’s another series of illustrations that are a part of the project I’m doing for the BC Library’s 2016 summer reading club.

I’ve shown our crew of critters travelling through different environments in their “portal passport” (which you can check out here). Those drawings are obviously focused on the vehicle. This next set is focused on the critter crew.

Since the theme of the project is “Book a Trip”, the aim is to show the characters in a series of settings that will convey the scope of their adventures without showing specific landmarks (like the Eiffel Tower, the Pyramids of Giza, or the Great Wall of China). So I chose a variety of zones and plugged the characters into them.

I think my favorite is the travel bug in space!

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