Monday, December 02, 2013

Gingerbread Man Bakery

Here's one I've been working on for a while.

And some details:

From the e-mail I sent my agent:

Attached is a jpg for the opening spread for The Gingerbread Man, with our baker, and her cat assistant in the background.This one took me longer than usual, but was well-planned, the first image to draw the reader in. 

 I wanted it to have the feeling of 1950s advertising art. The images in those old ads are nostalgic and idealistic. The story of the Gingerbread Man subverts this--the old woman in the original story is always sympathetic, but eventually the landscape turns perilous, and she becomes the antagonist. 

The image is intended to be just a little bit ominous, not TOO ominous, but there's some quite literal "foreshadowing" of what's to come with all the long shadows, whimsy with some mood lighting--this baker, after all, is going to go running after that gingerbread man in a few pages, wanting to eat him! But first she's friendly and buoyant, has our interest and sympathy. 

 The perspective is curved and wonky,a look that will spread throughout the book--everything is a little off kilter, with forced and distorted perspective to make the spaces and landscapes sprawl across the pages and feel larger than life, with big contrasts of scale. 

The composition is designed to lead the eye through the space, drifting onto each successive focal point, first our baker, the mother and little girl as she looks upon them warmly (with a hint of mischief), then the cat, who becomes important later. The palette is dominated by split compliments of red and green, purple and yellow, with light blues accented by the complimentary orange of the cat, helping to establish our hierarchy. I don't want the cat to blend too much into the background since he's our supporting character. There's a lot of color to attract the eye, but used with purpose.

The assumption is that this is a story many of the kids who read it might already know, which is both to its benefit, for it's familiarity, and detriment, if it's not handled in the right way. This is why I want to do a full dummy--so much of the storytelling is in the images, and everything is important to get us to where we need to go in a way that draws the reader in. Since this is such a familiar story, it needs to have a reason for existing, and atmosphere is key.

So that's where my head is on this one. Hope you like the image! I'll be moving ahead with the other images in rough form and will have a dummy soon.


  1. Anonymous6:35 AM

    What medium did you use for these illustrations?

  2. This one has gone through quite a number of changes since this post, but this is how I do it:

    I rough out the whole composition on butcher paper. I trace up the elements--figures, background--and ink them all in separately. I often scan the pencil drawings and print them out in light blue and ink over top of them. I use a lot of dry brush for the figures, but all the drawing inking is done by hand. Then I pull it altogether in photoshop and "clone" in color from a library I've accumulated of scanned watercolor, pastel and gouache textures.I often color the line in the ink layer. There are lots of layers. The only color that's truly digital are the highlights and light shapes, which I apply with a hand designed pastel textured brush.

    I also scan in and apply shadow shapes done in watercolor, like the cast shadows and floor shadows, which are are also traced up on the lightbox.