Archive | March, 2012

It’s Query Time!

27 Mar

The Go Green Bean Team has finally decided to take the next step towards publishing “The Adventures of Green Bean”–we are starting to query agents!  For those of you not familiar with how this works, I will explain a bit about what agents do and why we have decided to seek out an agent to represent our work. 

Publishing is a business and like any other business, there are industry insiders and outsiders.  An agent is specialized (hopefully) in the industry and they often have that insider edge that writers and illustrators do not.  They have the connections to editors and publishing houses–the gatekeepers to getting your work published.  Furthermore, agents know which publishers might be interested in a particular book project, such as ours, at any given time. 

Writers and illustrators have the option of sending their work directly to publishers; however, these manuscripts often end up in “slush” piles that are either disregarded completely or glimpsed at by low-level interns.  This does not offer much hope of being “discovered.”

These days, there is also the option of self-publishing.  This is a viable option if you have a large funding source to cover up front printing costs.  You can also publish your work as an e-reader.  I would imagine that this would be less desirable for us because we are writing for children who presumable would be less likely to read on a device (If you disagree, please let me know!)

I hope this brief explanation helps to clarify why we have chosen to query an agent.  Next week, I will talk about what a query is and where we are in this process.  If you have any first hand knowledge of the querying process, please share!

Art Post Update

23 Mar

The art post for this week is going to be a short one. I am currently in the process of finishing the layout thumbnails for the book, and as soon as I get that finished I plan on drawing and inking pages. With the amount of work that I have to do right now I expect the art process blogs that I post on Fridays to be few and far between. My goal is to post “teaser” or “work in progress” shots of what is currently on my drawing table (at least) every other week. Hopefully as I start to get momentum with the book I can resume weekly posts with additional content.  As for right now, here’s a shot of what I am working on.

desk shot

The Simple Things In Life

20 Mar

In last week’s post, I talked about the process of creating Green Bean’s real and imaginary worlds.  Although this process is complex, I never want to lose sight of an important theme in my books–play can be simple, while keeping it’s fun factor.  So, what do I mean by this?   Simply put, a child can have as much fun with a stick as they can with an iPhone or some other “smart” device.

In February, I posted the short story “The Adventures of Green Bean Racer and the Dragon’s Fire Racecar Rally.”  It’s a simple story about a girl with a bike, who just so happens to save her neighborhood friend Reid from certain death! She doesn’t need the newest gadgets or gizmos to do this, just good old-fashioned courage, which never goes out of style. 

I look forward to developing more stories for Green Bean with the simplicity theme in mind.  Perhaps Bean will have a community garden?  Only time will tell…

What kinds of simple activities do you do with your kids?

Secondary Characters: Coloring Philippa

16 Mar

Last week I posted some of the process sketches I had done in order to create Philippa the hoopoe. This week I am going to go through the process of finishing a sketch and coloring it. So here is the sketch that I created from the preliminaries I showed last week (forgive the lovely iphone photo).

I then took the image and traced it in ink using a light table.

After the image is inked I scanned the final drawing into the computer.

So at this point we have a black and white line drawing. Here’s where I go back in and fix any issues with the line drawing I may have missed or I was not happy with. I like to open up a window with some reference images on it, that way I can see what type of colors I need to be working with.

So the next thing I did was remove the white background. In Photoshop when you remove a background color you end up with a transparent background, which I find it hard to work with, so I created a layer under the line work and filled it in with a color I knew I wouldn’t be using.

I started filling in color.

As I fill in the image I create a new layer each separate color just in case I have to edit the colors later.

The next thing I did was add some shadows. This helps to give the image some depth and weight.

After the shadows I added a small highlight on the beak.

Finally, I added a little bit of a reddish-orange gradient in the feathers to mimic the look of the actual bird.

And there you have it, the final design for Philippa and a quick rundown of my process in creating these images.

The Lord of the Bean: Creating Green Bean’s World

13 Mar

Last week, I began reading the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.  I am very proud of myself for undertaking this daunting epic because of all that’s on my plate right now, including this book project, a very mobile eight month old, and my other responsibilities as a wife, friend, business owner, etc.  I have limited time for leisurely reading, so the fact that I’m still on the prologue does not surprise me in the least.  I must say, what a thorough and captivating prologue Tolkien has provided for his reader.  In about twenty pages he gives a thousand year history of Middle Earth!

So, what exactly does this have to do with my dear Green Bean?  Tolkien is a master at creating worlds for his readers.  I want to reflect on what I can learn from Tolkien and share more about Green Bean’s history in the process.   

Clearly, Tolkien spent a great deal of time developing his world and its inhabitants.  He spent years on this actually, although he makes it look so effortless in his writing–like it is history.  There are so many components to creating a vibrant backdrop to our story–a lesson that Tolkien teaches time and time again.  From “The Fellowship of the Ring” prologue, I learned that there were three original “species” of hobbits.  Each had unique physical characteristics and migration history.  For heavens sake, Tolkien! 

Although Green Bean’s world is no Middle Earth, it still requires thoughtfulness.   Actually, I have two worlds to develop–Green Bean’s real world and her imaginative one.  In developing each story, I must look at how these worlds intersect and, sometimes, collide.  For example, how does Green Bean know what a hoopoe bird is as a young child? In “The Adventures of Green Bean the Brave,” the reader learns that Philippa the Hoopoe is a stuffed animal that Bean loves to play with.  This is a simple example of course, but this illustrates how carefully woven in details make the story for a young, inquisitive reader.

Just think about all the questions a young reader might have about Green Bean.  Where does she go to school?  Does she take the bus?  Is her mom home when she gets off or is mom working?  Does Green Bean have a house or an apartment?  Does she live in a city, suburb or the country? 

In our quest to learn and understand, we all ask questions and seek information.  Our young readers are no different and we want to provide them with the information they seek, while leaving room for their imaginations to run free!  There is so much to say about Green Bean’s world, but I will leave you with this for now.  If you haven’t already, check out Green Bean’s “About” page, where you can find out a bit more about Green Bean’s history.  This is just a sample–there is more to come.  Thank you for reading!

What are the top five things you would want to know about Green Bean?

Secondary Characters: Sketching Philippa

10 Mar

Phillipa is a hoopoe bird that Green Bean encounters during her adventures. Creating this character was a challenge for me because I didn’t actually know what a hoopoe looks like. I did some research and found that the hoopoe’s most distinct feature is a crown of feathers on its head that extend and contract, which give it a lot of character. At first I just did some sketches of the actual birds.hoopoe 1

After a few sketches, I began to loosen up and try to make Philippa look as though she belongs in the land of Green Bean.

hoopoe 2

These were still too hard edge for me so I tried to soften them up. I wanted her to look cartoon-like but still have the essence of the original bird. One thing I tried to focus on was the different states of her crown of feathers. Her crown should rise when she gets excited or angry, tilt back when she is calm or serious, but most of all she needed to look like the same bird in either state.

hoopoe 3

I like the direction these sketches were going, but I wanted to emphasize that Philippa was a female so I added some eye lashes.

hoopoe 4

In next weeks post I will go from sketch, to inking the image, and through the process of coloring to show what I came up with for the final design for Philippa.

Would a Green Bean By Any Other Name Sound So Sweet?

7 Mar

Here is a fun fact about “The Adventures of Green Bean” series.  Originally, Green Bean was going to be called Coco Bean.  Coco was actually her written name in the first three stories I wrote for the series.  I thought it would be really cute to have a little girl called Coco Bean with a full head of chocolate brown curls. 

So, why the change? When Kevin, Cate and I met for the first time there were some doubts about the name.  Kevin immediately thought of Ice T’s wife when I mentioned Coco .  Mrs. Ice T is not who I imagined for the series! So we went to work thinking about other “Beans” that we could name the series after.  Pinto Bean?  Lima Bean? Red Beans and rice?  Soon, we agreed on Green Bean. 

I am so happy that we changed the name now.  Green Bean has so many positive connotations—healthy food, healthy living, healthy kids.  And I think a little Irish good luck!

Green Bean’s appearance has also changed in the process of refining the series.  Kevin mentioned in an earlier blog that we intended for Bean to have an ageless appearance.  We believe that her straight hair helps her look ageless. 

Green Bean’s changing looks are also attributed to some market research we did.  Currently, there is a very popular series published with a main character that has a curly, brown mop of hair atop her head.  The character is very cute, but we do not want to have a similar looking Green Bean. 

So, there you have it—the scoop on Green Bean!  Enjoy and thank you for reading!

Did Green Bean’s name catch your attention? 

More Bean

2 Mar

For this weeks art post I figured I would share a character model sheet I created for Green Bean.

bean character sheet

Here you can see my “final” design of Green Bean. I drew and colored this quickly about a week ago, and it has been an invaluable tool for me as I work on laying out the book. Essentially this gives me the basic size and shape of the character from front, back, and side.

drawing table

I keep a hard copy taped above my drawing table, that way I have a reference handy whenever I need it. My hard copy also has some hand written notes regarding design issues that may not be represented on the model sheet, or things that I want to remember to emphasize.