Brian Wonders: The Making of a Children's Book
In case you missed it -- Brian Wonders is on the cover of The Binding Edge! The article shines a light on the custom slipcovers for our storybooks, created by Silvanus Products in Missouri. It was their collaboration, along with our printer in Minnesota and our binder in Nebraska, that took our slipcover concept from prototype to finish. I am thrilled to see them featured on the cover of The Binding Edge.
Below is an excerpt and links to the full article, by Jen Clark.
Collaboration Brings Brian Wonders to Life, by Jen Clark
Over the course of the last year, Los Angeles, CA-based illustrator Victor Robert took his concept for a new children’s book from prototype to reality with the help of a yearbook printer in Minnesota and a pair of Binding Industry Association-member companies. Brian Wonders was created for little storytellers with big imaginations. The book that Robert said was "years in the making" has no words, yet empowers kids to dream up their own stories. It is the first in what will be a series of limited-edition picture books. continue reading here...
HIGHLIGHT OF MY BIRTHDAY WEEK
Last week, Dave Eggers was in town signing copies of his latest book now on paperback, The Circle. The signing was being held at the 826 Time Travel Mart in Echo Park. I popped into the mart and stepped into line, eager to meet him and show him a copy of my book, Brian Wonders. Thirty minutes later, I stepped out of the mart, feeling in a bit of a daze, feeling a little like I had traveled into a different dimension -- Dave Eggers had bought the copy of Brian Wonders, on the spot!
I wish I had taken a photo to capture the moment, but this is more or less what that picture would have looked like. In any case, the note he wrote next to his autograph far surpasses any photo my iPhone would have snapped, "Victor -- Keep making beautiful books." Big hug for the support, Dave, and thank you!
If you haven't been to Grand Park and you live in the LA area -- it's a must! Bring a picnic! Bring the kids. There's a huge water fountain and reflecting pool on the west end. Come by, say hello, and get your Brian Wonders on like these ladies.
Talk about inspiration!!!
ALL ABOUT THE PACKAGING
I thought it'd be interesting to show a little of what my workshop is looking like these days now that the book is done and the shipping has begun. This photo was taken this past weekend.
Step 1: books are signed, stamped and dedicated
Step 2: Books are slipped inside their own slipcase
Step 3: Then prepped for shipping
Step 4: Repeat!
BOOKS ARE IN!
Super excited to announce that the Brian Wonders picture books have arrived! Pictured below is the first of 2 dollies, making it a total of 20 boxes. Slipcovers are also in and we are actively filling orders. Thank you for ordering your first edition copy here.
CREATING THE DUST JACKET
Update! The book illustrations are done and the 250 book are in the process of PRINTING!
Now, it's finally time for the final touches -- first on the list is the dust jacket. Below I've posted a time-lapse to show the evolution of the drawing and the overall process of getting it to its final shape.
Above is a finished test comp printed on my inkjet. The comp gets wrapped around a book so I can start to get a sense of what the final book will look like. This step is very helpful to see how the size relationships are working between graphics and the illustration, and it helps me get a feel for the overall impact of the cover. I printed out a total of about 5 versions before settling on the final.
Click to play a TIME-LAPSE below:
Above are the dimensions that were sent to the printer. The dotted lines show where the jacket flaps will fold. This was my first version of the dust jacket, and after sitting with it for a while I decided to add characters around Brian because he was looking a little lonely on the cover.
Here is our final color proof roll that just arrived from the printer! Colors look good, size checks out -- approved! Now, onto the slipcover....
"INTO THE DEEP YOU MUST GO, I'M AFRAID"
That's what I feel this woman is saying to Brian, pointing to the deep end of the pool. She has gone through many transformations but the key elements pulled through -- big glasses and a big hat. The sketch below shows the initial drawing of the pointy fingered lady. She used to have a cocktail in hand.
In early drawings the woman was looking sort of like an alien fly and I kinda liked the odd vibe. But then I discovered Carmen Dell'Orefice and I got really inspired by a totally different look. So I did a search for Carmen + pools and found a bunch of her early photographs in cool swimsuits and swim caps which were all in line with the motifs I had going. Then ran across the photo below and I thought there's my lady in the hat! The photo even had the umbrella.
So I decided change the tone of the illustration to match this new direction -- a drowsy, flowy, languid look... super relaxed... eccentric and regal... Below is the resulting illustration and value study.
The pattern on her dress I replicated from the photo. She's reading up on cruises -- an element that comes up later in the book in the shape of a monster.
*click below to watch the TIME LAPSE
THE BELLY OF THE BEAST
Deep inside the belly of the book there's a fold-out map revealing the inner workings of the Ship Monster -- there's a glowing boiler room; a churning, roaring furnace; and soon-to-be digested captives along with lost treasure. This page is the center piece of the book, a double-gate fold out measuring 12" x 48" when fully opened.
Scroll all the way down to watch a time-lapse movie of this gargantuan illustration. It's a few days worth of work condensed down to two minutes.
Below I'm posting snapshots of the piece in progress:
Click above to watch the time-lapse video!
Thank you for sharing our blog and pre-ordering the book!
THE SHIP MONSTER
There's a monster in the story shaped like a scary cruise ship. My 5 year-old nephew calls it "el barco monstro". I think he's scared of it but I also think it's his favorite page.
The original idea was to have something fantastical emerging from the pool... I had the thought of a cruise ship, something like the Titanic... When I sketched it out, the ship took on a life of its own. I gave it eyes, a gaping mouth and a menacing smile, and after that the story went off in an unpredictable new direction.
Here's some of the CG modeling that went into it. A friend helped me with basic curved hull of the ship (thanks Mike!). Then I went in an pushed and pulled the CG model using 3D lattices, forming it to the shape I wanted while using the original sketch as an overlay guide. You can see the sketch overlay on the top right quadrant.
After the CG modeling is done, I have the image printed out and it becomes the underpainting to the illustration. Above and below are the two raw paintings that were later comped together into a final illustration along with other elements like balloons.
At the time I thought PHEW! All this was a bit of overkill for one illustration, but the results were a cool combination of newfangled CG and traditional paint and I moved forward with this technique for other illustrations in the book.
We are selling books!! And thank you for the pre-orders! The shot below is from a set of color proofs that I wedged into a book from my library. Just wanted to start seeing what the finished picture book will look like....