Introducing the crew of the summer reading club 2016

sensa book a trip blk

I spent the fall working on the visual designs for the characters that will populate this summer’s reading club that will be featured in libraries across British Columbia.

During that process, I naturally created stories and identities for each character. As an author, I’m used to writing those stories down, but in this case I needed to specifically concentrate on bringing the characters’ personalities alive with the pictures.

The theme for this year’s program is “Book a Trip” and the idea is that the characters embark on adventure via the wonder of a ship called The Portal Passport—it’s the book featured in the illustration at the top of this page. It has the power to chug through the air, submerge to the bottom of the seas, and rocket into space!

Well, this past week, my contact at the library, Cynthia Ford, asked if I would provide the specific biographies for each character. So I sat down to revisit my three critters for the first time in months, and am now pleased to present you with their official written backstories.

Flying Squirrel - sketchy color - pink clothes


Amelia Squirrelheart, a
 flying squirrel

As pilot of the portal passport, Amelia doesn’t mind getting her paws dirty.

She loves adventure, whether its soaring to the top of the highest peak or diving to the bottom of the deepest ocean.

Amelia has the heart of an explorer—she’s happy as long as she has her ship, her trusty sidekicks, and the wind in her whiskers.

travelbug_sketchy
Caboodle Cogsworth, a travel bug

Often called “Cogs” by his friends, Caboodle is the navigator aboard the portal passport.

He is a rare species of insect known as the travel bug, which means he’s restless and can never stay in one place for long.

Unlike Amelia, he prefers to have a plan and is an expert in cartography, astronomy, and instrumentation.

He has many compasses, telescopes, and chronometers—some of them built-in—to help him keep the crew on course.

polarbear_sketchy
Fixxer, a polar bear

This friendly polar bear is the crew’s bookwright—or, as you might think of him, an engineer.

He’s responsible for keeping the portal passport running at tip-top shape, so is always tinkering away with his gadgets and gizmos to coax more adventure from the ship.

In truth, Fixxer isn’t quite as daring as his friends, so he’s always glad when they have a moment to pause, rest, and enjoy a frothy mug of ice-cold chocolate milk.

By the way, the BC Library Association is hard at work on the official website for this year’s provincial reading program. I’ve been fortunate to have a sneak peak at the wonderful animation being prepared by the web designer, Shayne Letain—and I can’t wait to show it!

Soon. Very soon . . .

 

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.

bcsrc-poster_illustration_2016

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:

balloon_multicoloredpages

 

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!

tropicalisland_travelbugspace_travelbugflyingsquirrel_mountaindesert_polarbear

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.)

passport_transformingwalker_clrsubmarine_clr_lightbackgroundrocker_swerving_horizontal_clr

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 . . .

 

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:

src2016_poster01

src2016_poster02

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:

src2016_poster03

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:

src2016_submarinesketch

src2016_rocketsketch

src2016_walkersketch

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!

Designing characters for the BC Library’s Summer Reading Club ~ Round 5

I’ve been posting some of the artwork that I’ve been doing for the BC Summer Reading Club these past few weeks, but it’s now my work on the project is officially official.

So far, I’ve mostly been designing the look and feel of the characters that we are going to use for the material. Here’s the final versions of them—as you can see, we decided to go with a more “sketchy” look for the style of artwork:

Our pilot, the flying squirrel:

Flying Squirrel - sketchy color - pink clothes

Our navigator, the travel bug:

travelbug_sketchy

Our engineer: the polar bear:

polarbear_sketchy

I’ve also been working on the designs for the “portal passport”. My first attempt was a bit flat . . .

Portal Passport 01

So the team at the BC Library asked me to “up” the gadget factor, which I did:

portalpassport02

It’s by means of this book that the characters will take their travels. (The theme of the 2016 reading club is “Book a trip”.) I’m not sure if we’re going to use them, but I’ve sketched some (mis)adventures that the crew has in various locations around the world.

piranhaproblems-amazon

noodlenosh-shanghai

mummymishap-cairo

portraitpose-Paris

sharks-australia

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 . . .