To celebrate the release of On Duck Pond by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Bob Marstall (4/11/17), blogs across the web are featuring exclusive content from Jane and Bob, plus 10 chances to win a set of On Bird Hill and On Duck Pond !
by Bob Marstall
My entire process for illustrating pages 22-23 of “On Duck Pond” Jane Yolen’s text for this two-page spread:
The heron left her nest and limb, Trout returned to quiet pools,
Turtles found new routes to swim. Their fingerlings in careful schools.
Thumbnail (1”x2.5”) for pages 22-23
Thumbnail sketching forces the artist to be quick and concise – no room for detail, just get the visual concept down! It’s also critical for quickly establishing the overall “flow” of the book. It’s like a 100-page storyboard for a movie – except for a 32-page picture book, it’s all on one page. In this example, my initial response was to feature the turtle and the fish in the foreground and, in the middle-distance, show a heron flying in from the left.
1st full-size (9”x22”) sketch
By the time I got around to doing this full-size sketch (above), I had done several others – and a better sense of the “feel” of the book had emerged. This led to a number of changes to many of the thumbnails, including p22-23. There are still turtles and fish in the new version, and there is still a middle-distance – but besides adding the generic trees and the hills beyond them, the main change was moving the heron to the foreground and quadrupling its size, so that it now dominated the left page. The thumbnail version was OK but rather bland: everything was spread out pretty evenly; the new version felt more dramatic, with the heron now leading the viewer into the scene.
I became unhappy with the heron itself: it felt clunky, plus the reference was terrible (almost completely dark). Luckily, I found a couple of references that were livelier and a lot clearer, so I erased the first heron and drew this one in the same background. So far, so good…
A bit further down the road, the publisher asked for as many spreads with color as possible (for early-reviewer peeks). At that point, all the finished pencil drawings were already on good watercolor paper, ready to go, and I was able to, relatively quickly, complete four watercolor paintings. As it happened, I had a little extra time, so I decided to try to add color to one of the scanned spreads (pages 22-23) using Photoshop (which is the technique that I had used for all of “On Bird Hill”). I began with the heron, as shown below – but, as it turned out, I didn’t have enough time to do the background.
To make the best of the situation, I added it to the pencil drawing, below, and off it went to the reviewers.
Below is the finished watercolor painting. The primary and secondary feathers had ended up being a little (ok, a lot) darker, relative to the rest of the wing and back feathers, than I (or nature) had intended, but I brilliantly rationalized that it was just a peculiarity of the early morning light. The bird experts at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology had the more righteous view, however: accuracy.
So… I could’ve conceivably fixed the problem by going back into the original painting and “lifting” the dark blue watercolor by repeatedly wetting and blotting just those areas – which took some time and might not work…
OR, given the pressing deadline, I could easily and quickly fix it by using the handy Photoshop overlay that, conveniently, already existed – and this is what ended up being used in the book:
I guess that the fix did the job, since the reviews were great and Booklist gave it a star. Off to a good start…
Today is the last day of the tour! Be sure to stop by the blogs below for more chances to win!
Blog Tour Schedule:
April 11th – Mrs. Mommy BookNerd
April 12th – Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust
April 13th – Late Bloomer’s Book Blog
April 14th – Mundie Kids
From award-winning and NY Times bestselling children’s author of more than 350 books, Jane Yolen, and award-winning illustrator, Bob Marstall, On Duck Pond is the first sequel to the acclaimed On Bird Hill, which launched the children’s picture book series written for the esteemed Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the world authority on birds.In On Bird Hill, Yolen and Marstall took readers on a surreal journey with a boy and his dog, as they stopped, looked, and noticed things along their path—ultimately discovering the miracle of the birth of a baby bird. On Duck Pond continues the journey of the boy and dog story, this time in a new place—a serene pond, filled with birds, frogs, turtles and other creatures going about their quiet business. Their intrusion stirs the pond into a cacophony of activity, reaching climactic chaos, before slowly settling back to it’s quiet equilibrium.
This beautiful and enchanting sequel is sure to delight On Bird Hill fans and millions of readers and fans of Jane’s popular classics.
About the Author: Jane Yolen has authored more than 350 books, including the Caldecott-winning Owl Moon, which every budding young ornithologist owns, You Nest Here With Me, which is a popular new favorite, and the New York Times bestselling series How Do Dinosaurs. Jane Yolen’s books have been translated into over 20 languages and are popular around the world.
Janes husband, David Stemple, was both a well known bird recordist and a professor of computer science and he taught the entire family how to identify birds. Many of Jane’s books are about wildlife subjects, especially the winged kind. Jane lives in Hatfield, MA. Visit her online at janeyolen.com.