17.9.16

One of a kind, like me 4 - Illustration process

This project is part of a much larger project by Blood Orange Press to bring more diverse books to the forefront, please visit bit.ly/ReadInColor and share, share, share it.

Ok, so I began work on Laurin Mayeno's (right) book over a year ago with publisher Janine Macbeth (middle) of Blood Orange Press. It has been a true joy and honor to work with both of them on this story and I am so proud to be a part of it. Laurin and I met up, she broke down the story for me and immediately I knew I wanted to illustrate this story. Why? I'd never seen a book like it as a child or as a parent. And although its just starting to reach people it is already getting tons of good reviews and responses from people. And the fact that it is bilingual means that it will reach even more families. Janine Macbeth was just starting to look for the next book that would come out of Blood Orange Press, a new home in the publishing industry for diverse books. But, lets talk about art process.

I generally start my work with a few pencils.

The first thing I do when imagining my own project or illustrating a story for someone else is make a set of very rough thumbnails. For BIG ideas like these it can be kind of daunting to start so its better to draw something really tiny just to get an idea for "placement". That means, where does a person stand, sit, talk, run, or yell in the frame? If there is a car, is it to their right, left, or directly behind them.

Next, after Ive done quite a few little doodles or thumbnails I ask the AD (art director), in this case author/illustrator Janine Macbeth and founder of Blood Orange Press to choose two of the 3 or 4 choices I've given her. This is the rough sketch phase.

She gives me feed back and i take four little ideas and condense them into one with little elements from the previous ones all in one usually. This is what I call the almost final phase because i'll need some feedback from the AD and sometimes the author to judge whether this is working or not. Then, i may even go back and redo something to make it fit better with the whole story over all.

Then i provide some color ideas for where I'd like to go with my reds, blues, yellows, etc. the AD gives me some notes and then.


I get my sketch ready on my light table/box to redraw it on water color paper. I generally use paper.
these are some of the different paints and I use when painting a spread.

Then I paint! Usually for several hours on one spread. Sometimes it takes me more than a day to paint one page or spread. Here's my palette on wax paper and cardboard.

Then I have the artwork scanned by a local printer or company. I adjust the brightness, saturation, and contrast and I send both the original and my adjustments to the AD. Then that is it for most pages.

After that you'll see it in the final book!

This is from the story "One of a kind like me/Unico como yo". It was written by Laurin Mayeno about her experience as a parent with her son Danny. She wrote about what that was like for her as a parent and I know it will resonate with a lot of families because it not only hints at children who may be gay, lesbian, or queer. It celebrates being yourself and loving who you are. And its in spanish too! Here's the cover of the book, which is starting to get a great response.

 If you enjoyed this and wish to support this book and other books like it please check out the kickstarter our publisher Blood Orange Press just launched to help create other new books and to help print, market, and promote this one. You can also learn more about the true story behind the book and how Laurin Mayeno is making a space for more parents to support their children HERE.

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