SCBWI announced the Tomie de Paola Award, an illustration contest that evolved from Tomie originally choosing promising artists from those showcasing at NYSCBWI. Last year's prompt was from "Heidi." It honestly didn't inspire me, but this year was a different matter.
The prompt was from Chicken Licken and as soon as I read it aloud, ideas flooded my head, so much so that I had to scribble them down as I read. You can also see that the format was something that happened early on. I was thrilled to do another comic page, so I got to work breaking up text, arranging panels and deciding on the overall design. I finally settled settled on something similar to this...uh chicken scratch. (harhar)
One of the questions that had been circling my head for a while was how I was going to have my flock stand out from the others. Inspiration came in the form of a birthday present:my first pair of cowboy boots!
|Can you believe I've lived in Texas most of my life without cowboy boots? Unnatural! :)|
Yee-haw! Thus began my research into the Old West: towns, clothing and landscape. I did a ton of research and very little of it physically made its way into the actual final art, but it was necessary. I think art carries a certain weight of back-story that the viewer unconsciously recognizes. Plus, it love research! (Archaeologist and Librarian were the top of my "When I Grow Up" list for a long time.)
As I'm sure almost all of the contestants did, I also researched the heck out of the birds featured in the story. I can't remember who, but another illustrator once pointed out to me that everyone uses Google now, and so the likelihood of whatever you're referencing looking like someone else's was much more likely. So now I try not to rely strictly on Google and throw in a few books and magazines. With research completed, I got to work on my favorite part: character sketches!
I did a few color studies to get a handle on just how I wanted to approach the color of this piece. This one was what I decided I really liked. Unfortunately because of a few curve balls (sick kids,etc) I was unable to take this to fruition, but it's a technique I definitely want to play around with more.
I sketched up the final panels, made a few notes here and there, redrew it and scanned them into the computer. I colored it in Photoshop, and didn't even have time to play around with that. I was trying to beat a deadline, and so I ended up with....(click on each image to see it bigger)
If you'd like to see a few other illustrators' interpretations of the prompt, head over to The Unofficial Tomie de Paola Gallery blog. There's over forty-five versions of Chicken Licken and it's sure to grow!