Other Panda Worlds

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Day In the Life of PandaErica

Click on this thumbnail to view actual size. :]

This was me Thursday night. I am a children's picture book designer by day. By night I am a freelance illustrator. It has its own set of pros & cons. I love what I do though, so despite the surely, bumpy, stressful, and mentally strenuous road ahead of me I am very happy. 

Summer time in a corporate design office is more than a little stressful. While people are out sick or out on vacation, I am left with all of the extra responsibilities of books that I am not normally in charge of. Needless to say, all the stress has sort of been frying my poor, fatty brain. 

After a day of hard work and putting out corporate "fires" (ironically, I am now a deputy fire warden for HarperCollins in our new office building. I have an arm band and everything! ;] ), I feel pooped. Especially on the days that I decide to cook dinner. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE it when I can successfully please my loved one and my own's tastebuds through my own efforts. And I seem to thoroughly demolish the food that I made with my own hands more so than any take out/delivery food (except for Napoleon's red velvet cake waffles & chicken wings. HEAVEN).

But after all that energy expended throughout the day, after a very relaxing, hot shower, I end up passing out into my deadly comfy and snuggly bed. My bed is pure evil anytime past 4pm. The soft comforters trap me in its warmth and it is practically impossible trying to wake me up after it has me in its grip. 

Does anyone else have similar problems? If so let's converse some time. :] Misery like company. ;]

Well, moral of the story, today and Monday night I certainly have to double up on my freelance hours to make up for my slacking these past few nights. And eats my vitamins (bleck! yuck!)! 

Have a happy Saturday afternoon everyone!


Thursday, July 24, 2014

A little bit of process from The Girl's Q/A Book: Friendship

Hello Panda followers!

Gosh has it been a year and forever! This past year has been a whirl wind. I now am full time-employed by HarperCollins Publishers as the DESIGN ASSISTANT to the Associate Creative Art Director of the Picture books group, Martha Rago. And I am very happy to be working in the HarperCollins Children's Design Department for a little over a year now.

Besides the addition to a grabbing a very "adult-like" day job, I am now blessed to be working on a book due to be independently published come late September/early October, just in time for your elementary-middle grade daughters, friends, and family to go back to school. Going back to school is a fresh onslaught of female, pheromone-induced, friendly drama!

Well, Annie Fox and I have a wonderful book for parents and adults to share with their kids that will help guide you and them through the difficulties of making and keeping friends. Our new book, my first published body of illustrations, is called The Girl's Q&A Book: Friendship.

Here is a sneak peek into a small portion of the process work that goes into one single illustration that headlines the letter/chapter heading of the book:

ONE - Annie give me letters from real life girls that are having a hard time dealing with their friends. In this example we have a girl who has a new "cooler" friend who isn't quite so nice to other people. It bothers the writer that her "cool", new friend is a mean person, but she still is excited that the "cool" girl even bothers to acknowledge her as a "friend". 

Here are some concept sketches I whipped up based on the letter writer's problem. I tried to go for very dramatic moments where the emotion is at it's peak. Can you tell I got a little overboard with my action/drama/emotion lines in these first sketches? :)


TWO - To give Annie an idea of how I was thinking of "coloring" the line drawings with greyscale values, and to give her a feel for how I envisioned the final drawings, I did more refined versions of 2 of my more favorite sketches.

THREE - As it turns out, Annie didn't like the sketches that were my favorite and we decided to develop the sketch she preferred (It's her book, so she's the boss! Plus, I tend to look at all my sketches with the potential of being great). No biggie. Here I refined the drawing. With a little more art direction from Annie, this is the drawing that I started to work on for the final illustration. 

FOUR - If you click the image thumbnail below and look at these screenshots more closely, you can see how I thought the first round of "coloring" would be the final. WRONG! This is not often the case when it comes to my freelance illustration projects. From what I've seen this past year working in the industry, it is most definitely NOT the case when it comes to book illustrations published through publishing houses. 

You can go through 2, 3, 4, sometimes even more iterations than that for just one illustration -- as many revisions as it takes to get the illustration just right. And if your art director and you, (and the editor and the sales/marketing team, and everyone else who seems to have an opinion), work well together and communicate the feelings, emotions, and the idea that you want to get across through your illustration between the two of you frequently, usually the multiple rounds of revisions will produce a very worthwhile finished piece of art. 

Final illustration is not shown here. You'll have to wait for the book to see how the final product came out! :P 

FIVE - I turn in the final illustration and the final to print art files over to the publisher/designers.

Sometimes, I get lucky and the universe throws me a bone. I set up the right scenario/setting in the first sketch. That does not mean to say that this will be the final illustration. 

As you can see below, Annie and I decided to change up the composition/layout of this drawing and flip flop the focus on the "potential friend-making" aspect of the illustration, and not put as much emphasis on the gossiping, isolating "cool" girls. 

Again, this is not the final illustration. 
Buy the book when it comes out to see all the final illustrations! ;)

That's all I have to show for last night's work session. I hope showing my process and how the stages of revisions go for children's book illustrations has been helpful, if not at least interesting to read through. More to come from this book and more. 

I'm trying my best to put in more effort into posting something little every day of my work. This blog post isn't so little, I admit, but I figure since this was the first blog post in over a year, you guys deserved it! ;)

'Til next time!