Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Character Development

So before I jump right into Week 2 (3 weeks later) of Illustration Correspondence Course, I'd like to speak to you for a few minutes about Amway. Okay, that's not even really my joke- I stole it from my first fire-eating crush, Broon (made famous, of course, at the Largo, Florida Renaissance Festival).

My point is, I have some good news to share! I have a new picture book deal, yahooooooo! BUG MUSICAL is going to be published by Dial Books for Young Readers! They're also my publisher for Olympig, and I am really really excited to continue working with them! And I'm excited to continue watching Glee guilt-free, as it is now legit research.

Ok, moving on...

I am not going to repeat everything from my first Character Development post from last spring- you can see that here. But, I do have some fun new insights to add, thanks largely to the spectacular Wordstock festival held here in Portland last weekend! The highlight? A presentation by

David Wiesner


David Shannon!!!

Believe it! It was amazing to hear both of them, of course, and it was great to hear their insights into creating the characters in their picture books. David Shannon, for example, did a "learn how to draw David" exercise, and explained his reasoning behind each and every facial feature David has. It was fantastic to hear how much thought he put into such a seemingly simply drawn character. So. In case you don't know, this is David:

He went through his facial features thusly:

Nose: slightly lumpy & off-kilter, because David Shannon himself has broken his nose 5 times (the last time due to an errant sliding glass door).

Teeth: David Shannon (ok, let's call him D.S.) knew a kid when he was growing up who had greenish teeth that had grown into sharp little fangs... before he got his adult teeth.

Eyes: one is slightly higher than the other. This is because D.S. himself has mismatched eyes. He did a funny & lengthy demonstration of his lopsided eyes that consisted of 2 words: "Eyes. Ears. Eyes. Ears. Eyes. Ears." It was hilarious. Maybe you had to be there.

Ears: (speak of the devil)- no holes, because David doesn't listen.

Nostrils: Left is bigger than right, because David is left-handed & thus frequents his left nostril more than his right.

Haircut: commonly called the "pig shave" when D.S. was a lad.

Eyebrows: Both say different things. One is the "evil" eyebrow:

One is the "innocent" eyebrow:

Crazy, right? And an excellent example, I think, of how much thought and care goes into creating seemingly simple and childlike characters.

David Wiesner spoke about his new book Art & Max, and talked about how he developed their characters. His website has terrific visuals- I highly recommend. If you click on the thumbnails, you'll find his notes describing each step of the process. What a terrific gift- allowing us to see his working process! I was pleased to see that he also creates models of his characters- although his aren't quite the stuff of nightmares like Motha is...

His website also has pictures of his models- a look through his sketches is time well spent, believe you me!

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