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Viewing Blog: Ben Clanton's Squiggles and Scribbles, Most Recent at Top
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0 Comments on SKETCHBOOK SATURDAY as of 8/23/2014 2:55:00 PM
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Wishing I was at the beach right now but it is rainy and not all that warm out in NE MA today. So I'm doodling the beach at my studio!

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Drew these dragons on the back of a record album when driving up to Porland, ME today. Trying to name a dragon in a book I'm working on. It is a very friendly and playful sort of dragon. Suggestions for a name?

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8. Sketchbook Summer

Every day feels like Saturday right now. It's great! Got some good drawing time in while out on a whale watching expedition today. Expect a flood of whales soon!

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I love drawing dragons so much! Finally got to see How to Train Your Dragon 2. Pretty awesome. Loved all the new dragon designs. Feeling inspired and also wishing I had a dragon of my own.

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10. sketchbook saturday

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The dragons are loving the warm weather. The sun really makes their colorful scales shine.

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I'm it! Elizabeth Rose Stanton tagged me! And not only me but also Jennifer K. Mann (check out her blog tour post HERE). So apparently Beth is not only ridiculously talented as an artist (I might be a wee bit jealous of her knack for thinking of unusual and brilliant things) but is also quite fast. If you have not yet come across her book Henny then you are in for a treat. The book is funny, curious, and also quite sweet. It is just the sort of book I wish I had made.

.On to the questions!

What am I currently working on?

I am not so patiently awaiting the release of my next picture book REX WRECKS IT! which comes out at the end of September. It is about Gizmo the robot, Wild the monster, and Sprinkles the unibbit who all like to make fantastic creations out of blocks. And then there is Rex the t-rex. He wrecks EVERYTHING! I suppose I'm not currently working on the book itself but I am beginning to work on how to introduce Rex to the world. THAT requires a lot of work because (as previously mentioned) Rex wrecks EVERYTHING!!!

I am currently working on a number of projects. I'm just finishing illustrating the fourth Jasper John Dooley book which is called YOU'RE IN TROUBLE. Great title, yes?! It is my favorite of the JJD books. Caroline Adderson is an amazing writer.

I am also putting the final touches on a picture book I've been working on with Simon & Schuster called SOMETHING EXTRAORDINARY (set the bar rather high with that title).

AND I am starting on final illustrations for a second Max book by Wiley Blevins which involves an egg. It works out perfectly because baby ducklings are currently hatching in my studio!

That little guy on the right hatched today!

With a couple of projects coming to a close I am also now exploring a number of new book ideas. They involve such things as dragons, robots, pigs, narwhals, monkeys, and evil mutant potatoes.

Why do I write what I write?

I don't have a choice! Not that I want one. I have all these images and stories bouncing around my noggin trying to get out. My mind would explode if I didn't try to get them out somehow. And that is a scientific fact. It happened to a rhino named Marty. It wasn't pretty.

Also, I love to entertain kids! Doing school visits is the best. When I see kids laughing because of what I've written or when they ask questions about my characters or want me to draw pictures for them . . . it gives me a great feeling of satisfaction. It makes me want to keep doing this as often and for as long as I can.

How does my writing/illustrating process work?

When it is working . . . it goes something like this . . .

1. I have a brilliant one-of-a-kind idea that I can't believe came to me. (Most of the time I eventually realize that the idea has either been done before or wasn't near as good as I originally thought.) These ideas can come anytime and anywhere. But for the most part I find them when out for walks, in the shower, or when procrastinating daydream-style.

2. I draw and write my idea out. I carry sketchbooks and pens with me ALWAYS. For me it is as necessary as having my license, keys, or pants . . . I fill up oodles of sketchbooks trying to work out the format for an idea, making notes about jokes I want to include, and mostly drawing the sort of character I want over and over again. I create little storyboards in my sketchbooks super quickly. It doesn't matter at this stage if it looks all that pretty. It just needs to get out.

3. I use Photoshop to compile sketches into a working dummy once I've fleshed out the character design, story sequence, and feel I want to go for.

4. Time for an editor to take a look? (Fingers crossed!)

5. HOORAY! The book will be published with ____________. Now comes a bunch of back and forth and revisions. I'll usually end up doing a number of new dummy books. This is when Photoshop is most helpful for me. It allows me to quickly explore and create revised illos. 

6. HOORAY! HOORAY! I finally have approval to do final art. WAIT! NO! I DON'T WANT TO DO FINAL ART! Final? Can't we talk more about all of this. Maybe somehow the final illustrations can do themselves. Okay, fine. I'm going to do this. Time to buy and borrow loads of audiobooks and get to it.

7. After many light nights . . . submit!

8. A final few revisions and then it is time to wait for proofs and then for pubication.

9. Time to do it all again! HOORAY!

I'm afraid I'm not nearly as fast as Beth. But I have managed to tag one AMAZING person! Brooke Boynton Hughes. I believe someday that name will be a household name. She has a style that is truly hers and it is lovely. Her post will be up a week from now!

I'm also trying to tag Frank Dormer. The chase has just begun so I'm still hopeful, but even if I don't catch him . . . you should still check out his work. It is awesome.

And so are you! Thanks for stopping by!

0 Comments on The Writing Process AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR BLOG TOUR as of 6/3/2014 12:25:00 AM
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Mutant potatoes! I have no idea why I like these guys so much. But I could draw them all day. Recently I've been drawing them as warm-ups while working on the fourth Jasper John Dooley book.

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14. sketchbook saturday

I'm probably going to be pretty quiet for the next few weeks. Final art time! It is for a book called Something Extraordinary. Set the bar rather high with that title. Speaking of that book . . . I could use some help. I've got a spread that needs 100 unusual pets and I need more ideas for pets to include. I'm getting close to a hundred but still have a number of invisible ones at the moment. So, be awesome like a unicorn and take a moment to leave a comment with at least three unusual pet ideas. In exchange I'll name the pet after you. Of course, it won't appear in the text but you will know and I will know.

Naturally, dragon and unicorn are covered. Flying pig? Horsefly? Carrot?

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19. sketchbook saturday

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20. sketchbook saturday

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21. sketchbook saturday

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I find Thanksgiving to be an absolutely fascinating holiday. I suppose most holidays are, but I find Thanksgiving to be particularly so. Something about the combination of controversy (celebration of a genocide?), family (almost always . . . at least in my experience . . . a mixed bag of hugs and arguments), food/feasting, being thankful, football, and turkey stuff. I think one of my favorite parts has to be all the turkey stuff. Not the eating of turkeys (I'm vegetarian), but all the decorations, hand turkeys, and that sort of thing. Turkeys alone I find to be a fascinating creature. I suppose that is why several years ago I came up with a story about one. I'm afraid it will never see publication (too much in common with a certain book about a pigeon and a bus), but I still like it so I figured I'd share it (the rough mock-up I had made for the story) here. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Below are some of the deleted scenes.

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23. MO'S MUSTACHE jacket poster + cover-wrap

 I like to think about every detail of the books I create. The story and artwork might get the most attention, but one of the parts I most enjoy about the book making process is thinking about such elements as the spine, the flaps, the dedication, and endpapers. I want every bit of the book to be the best it can and for me that means fun and appealing. So when I found out Tundra Books likes to do posters on the back of the book jackets I was thrilled.

Below are some of my initial designs for the poster. They are bold and graphic (both qualities I like), but the content wasn't all that interesting.

Another thought I had was to feature all the characters from the book. But there was no new content (different than what already is in the book).

Then I saw this video . . .

Which gave some extra inspiration to an idea my editor (Tara Walker) had for a mustache manual . . .

My first go at making a mustache manual was too text heavy, but I felt that I was headed in the right direction for the jacket's poster. It just needed a little simplifying . . .

But not only does the book have a nifty/essential 'Mustache Manual' but also the cover-wrap for the book is unique (different than the jacket). I love it when there is a surprise under the jacket and I thought 'what better surprise is there than a mustache party?' . . .

The trouble with the mustache party was that it didn't quite fit with the classic/retro feel we were going for with the book design. Unlike the poster this element really needed to be quite simple. So of course I went with a mustache saying 'HUZZAH!' . . .

And that is how I went about making the jacket and cover-wrap for MO'S MUSTACHE (a stylish book for fashionable people). 

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24. MO'S MUSTACHE book trailer

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25. sketchbook saturday: MAKING MO!

I thought for this 'sketchbook saturday' I'd share some of the sketches and doodles I did when working on my latest picture book MO'S MUSTACHE. After all, it is Movember! (The preferred month of both mustaches and monsters.)

MO'S MUSTACHE actually started out as MEEP'S MUSTACHE. It was a comic I made for the kids when I worked at Kids Club in Seattle. The comic was inspired by the paper mustaches I'd wear and pretend were real. It was a favorite sport at Kids Club to try and rip my mustaches off. I, of course, informed the kids that it was impossible to rip off my mustaches because they were real (or at least REAL-ly awesome).
As you'll see Meep looks a lot different than Mo. After the book was picked up by Tundra, Meep went through a number of changes. For starters, the simplicity of the character design was just a bit too simple. I found that my youngest readers had a hard time with his form. They found the single eye a bit confusing (especially whenever the eye was closed). Secondly, the name 'Meep' turned out to be problematic. I was informed by a kid that 'Meap' is the name of an alien-creature on Phineas and Ferb and that he happens to sport mustaches. Quite the coinkydink! So I had to say goodbye to Meep.

And go back to the drawing board. I drew oodles and oodles of monster-things to come up with a replacement for Meep.

I tried out a number of new names for Meep. I remember Mojo and Momo were two of my favorites, but in the end Mo seemed like the most fitting name.

As for the character design, I thought the oval-headed Mo (above) was the way to go for awhile. But while I liked the character, the shape didn't quite emphasize the mustache in the right way. Below are a couple of examples of what I sent my editor (Tara Walker!) when I was working out Mo's design. You'll notice I kept the former Meep design around for the characters Bob, Bill, and Ben. I also tried out a new version of the Meep design for Mo. Two eyes instead of just one! I thought it was a funny looking character, but then my wife pointed out that the shape could be seen as a little bit awkward.

You'll notice in the above image that in my note to Tara I mention the question of what Mo is exactly. Alien? Monster? Thing? At first I wanted it to be ambiguous, but seeing as Meap is an alien . . . it seemed best to consider Mo a monster. Plus 'monster' starts with 'mo'!

Anywho, Tara and I ended up agreeing that I still had not found the right character design for Mo. So back to the drawing board! (I have such a tough job.)

I tried out a really long nose for Mo, which emphasized his mustache in a way I really liked. After a bit more tinkering I finally had a design that everyone could agree upon.

So I sketched up a new dummy book!

BUT after I had done that, we found Mo's tail a bit confusing as the knob at the end kind of looked like another hand. I tried out a number of different tails. Below is what I ended up sending Tara.

My favorite was the skinny tail with the six-pointed star knob at the end. I was inspired tails in the tale It Zwibble and the Greatest Clean-up Ever! . . . it was one of my favorite books growing up. The devil-ish tail was also a favorite of mine, but nostalgia won the day.

 Wow! That made for a long-ish post and I still have more to share about some of the other character designs. Next Saturday! Enjoy your weekend and thanks for stopping by!

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