Thursday, November 07, 2019

Buchpremiere von "Eine Kiste voller Weihnachten"

Endlich ist es soweit, am 8.11. wird auf Schloss Reinhardtsgrimma die Buchpremiere von "Eine Kiste voller Weihnachten" gefeiert, und ich freue mich riesig, dass ich dabei sein darf!

Die Einladung zur Buchpremiere

Es wird ein wunderschönes Programm geben, natürlich mit einer Lesung aus dem Buch, aber auch mit musikalischem Rahmenprogramm und einem kleinen Einblick in die Arbeit an den Illustrationen. Ich werde auch einige Originale mitbringen.

Einige der Skizzen und Originalarbeiten werde ich zur Ansicht mitbringen...

Inzwischen habe ich das Buch auch schon in den Buchhandlungen entdeckt:

Das neue Weihnachtsbuch hier bei Thalia auf dem Weihnachtstisch

Es ist immer wieder etwas Besonderes für mich, wenn ich ein Buch, das ich illustriert habe, in den Buchhandlungen sehe.

Ich hoffe, wir sehen uns morgen im Erzgebirge!

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

It's book birthday! SOME SNOW IS... in stores now, and author book tour dates!


The illustrator copies arrived!

Happy book birthday to Some Snow Is... ! I received my illustrator copies just in time and I am so happy I can share more images from the book with everybody:

The title page for "Some Snow is..."

Some Snow is First Snow...

Some Snow is Fluff Snow...

The author Ellen Yeomans is planning a book tour in November, here are the dates :

Nov 22, Syracuse, NY Official Book Launch: 7PM, Downtown Writer’s Center, at the YMCA of Central New York, 340 Montgomery St, Syracuse, NY 13202

Nov 24, Liverpool, NY, 12-3PM, Barnes & Noble, 3956 NY-31, Liverpool, NY 13090, book signing

Dec 1, Brooklyn, NY, 10:30AM, Stories Bookshop & Storytelling Lab, 458 Bergen St, Brooklyn, NY 11217

Dec 4, Philadelphia, PA, 6:30 PM, Head House Books, 619 S 2nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19147, United States

Dec 15, Prague, Czech Republic, The Globe Bookstore, Pštrossova 1925/6, 110 00 Nové Město
Some Snow is Snow Day Snow...

Some Snow is Spring Snow...

A huge thank you to Cecilia YungSusan Kochan, and everybody at G.P.Putnam's Sons, and of course to Ellen Yeomans for taking me on this wonderful winter adventure with you!

I will go celebrate with some hot cocoa now, happy Tuesday to everybody!


Thursday, October 31, 2019

Some Snow Is... coming to a book store near you next week!


I can't believe it's almost November and "Some Snow Is..." will be in stores in a little under a week! This book has been a part of my life for the past three years and it's been such a pleasure to work on. I signed the contract to illustrate this beautiful poem by Ellen Yeomans in October of 2016, while I was still working on "The Yin Yang Sisters and the Dragon Frightful". I knew I would not be able to start working on it until a year later, but I was so excited about it and so happy that Penguin was able to wait. 

"Some Snow is fluff snow..."

Let me start by sharing the synopsis of the book from the publisher:

Lyrical poetry and stunning paintings showcase the surprise, the fun, and the beauty of everyone’s favorite winter adventure: snow! 

Some snow is First Snow,
we’ve waited for so long snow.
Is it really snow snow
or only heavy rain?

Starting with the thrill and excitement over the first flakes falling from the sky, we follow three young neighbors enjoying all types of snow through the season. From sleet and fluff snow that isn’t good for anything to angel snow, snowball snow, driveway snow (which can lead to the best forts), tracking snow, sledding snow, snow day snow, and all the way to the last snow which is exciting in its own way:

Soon, soon, all gone snow.
We’ve waited for so long snow.
Please, please, no more snow.
Our bikes are whispering. 

Beautiful verse and evocative energetic illustrations perfectly hit all the right exciting and cozy notes that children will savor every winter!


Soon it will be spring snow...

Ellen describes the progress of winter and the different kinds of snow with so much knowledge, love, and wit. I remember reading the manuscript for the first time on a cold and rainy October day and feeling like the kids in the story, impatiently waiting for all this rain and sleet to stop and for the "real" snow to come!

The book already got a nice review from Kirkus, calling it “A perceptive, three-season-ish celebration of snow perfect for a snuggly read." 


Some snow is snow day snow...

I hope you will enjoy this winter poem as much as I did!

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Eine Kiste voller Weihnachten - das neue Weihnachtsbuch erscheint am 15.10.

Lisbeth und Herr Storch verlassen Dresden

Dieses Jahr hatte ich die große Freude, ein weiteres Buch in der wunderschönen Kindler Weihnachtsbuchreihe zu illustrieren. Nachdem im letzten Buch "Das Weihnachtsmarktwunder" der Junge Martin eine abenteuerliche Reise vom Erzgebirge nach Dresden erlebte, müssen in diesem Buch zwei neue Figuren am Weihnachtsabend trotz Dunkelheit und Schneetreibens unbedingt noch ins Erzgebirge. Hier ist eine kleine Einführung in die Geschichte:

In der Molkerei fragt Lisbeth nach dem Weg zurück ins Erzgebirge


Dresden, um 1890. Vinzent Storch stellt die berühmten "Dresdner Pappen" her – Figuren aus Papier, die als Christbaumschmuck sehr beliebt sind. Am Vormittag von Heiligabend entdeckt er zu seinem Entsetzen eine Kiste, deren Lieferung versäumt worden ist. Schnell macht er sich mit dem Pferdewagen auf in Richtung Zinnwald, um die Ware rechtzeitig zu überbringen. 
Unterwegs bittet ein Mädchen darum, mitgenommen zu werden, doch Storch lehnt ab. Dass Lisbeth heimlich auf seinen Wagen steigt, bekommt er nicht mit. Erst als ein heftiger Schneesturm einsetzt und er vom Weg abkommt, gibt sich das Mädchen zu erkennen. Sie behauptet, den Weg zu wissen. Wenn Storch Zinnwald rechtzeitig erreichen will, muss er Lisbeth vertrauen. 
Auf der Fahrt erfährt er, welch tragische Geschichte das Mädchen nach Dresden geführt hat. Da öffnet er sein Herz, und aus zwei traurigen Seelen werden Freunde.
Eine herzerwärmende Geschichte, die den Erfolg von Ralf Günthers Dauerseller "Das Weihnachtsmarktwunder" fortschreibt.



Die Rast im Wald

Ralf Günther wird an drei Terminen aus dem Buch lesen

am 8.11. um 19 Uhr in Glashütte

Buchpremiere mit musikalischer Begleitung 
Schloss Reinhardtsgrimma
Schlossgasse 2
01768 Glashütte


am 9.11. um 19 Uhr in Coswig

Buchhandlung Ernst Tharandt
Bahnhofstr. 3
01640 Coswig

am 7.12. um 19 Uhr in Bad Schandau

Hotel Albergo Toscana
Rudolf-Sendig-Str. 17
01814 Bad Schandau


Nähere Informationen zu den Lesungen gibt es hier. Bei der Buchpremiere am 8.11. in Glashütte werde ich dabei sein, ich freue mich schon sehr darauf!



Lisbeth versteckt sich im Wagen von Herrn Storch


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

New Picture Book coming soon: "The Yin Yang Sisters and the Dragon Frightful"

the book cover

I am so excited to share that I got to illustrate this wonderful picture book, "The YinYang Sisters and the Dragon Frightful", by the amazing Nancy Tupper Ling! The book will be published on September 18 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, and I am so honored that Peter Reynolds hosted the cover reveal on his twitter account!

Here is a brief synopsis of the story:

When a fearsome dragon takes over their village bridge, twin sisters Mei and Wei have opposing views of how to fix the problem. Wei wants nothing more than to confront that stinky old dragon head on, but Mei favors a more thoughtful approach... an empowering sibling story about celebrating differences and working together.

The Dragon Frightful gets comfortable on the village bridge.

It was especially fun to work on this story of opposite twin sisters Mei and Wei, not only because there is a frightful dragon in the mix who in the end might not be so frightful after all (and I am definitely a fan of those kinds of dragons), but also because they reminded me so much of my twin nieces! Despite their very different characters, they always find creative ways to play and solve problems together. This was so inspiring when working on ideas for the book. I cannot wait to read it to them!


Wei loves Kung Fu, Mei prefers to read...

I will share a little bit more about working on this book soon!


Ab 18. September 2018 im Buchhandel:

Wei und Mei sind sehr unterschiedliche Zwillingsschwestern. Wei liebt Kung Fu und bietet Problemen mutig die Stirn. Mei liest lieber Bücher und erfindet hilfreiche Werkzeuge. Als ein furchtbarer Drache sich mitten auf der Brücke in ihrem Dorf niederlässt, müssen Wei und Mei zusammen eine Lösung finden...

"CHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Frightful sneezed.

Es hat riesigen Spass gemacht, dieses Buch, geschrieben von Nancy Tupper Ling, für G.P.Putnams Sons zu illustrieren. Zum einen natürlich, weil ein furchtbarer Drache darin vorkommt, der am Ende vielleicht doch gar nicht so furchtbar ist, wie er scheint (und für solche Drachen habe ich ja eine besondere Schwäche)... zum anderen, weil Wei und Mei so wunderbare, sehr unterschiedliche, aber starke und mutige Charaktere sind, die mich zusätzlich noch an meine beiden sehr unterschiedlichen Zwillingsnichten erinnert haben. Ich freue mich schon sehr darauf, ihnen das Buch vorzulesen!

Ich melde mich bald zurück mit mehr Einblicken in die Arbeit an diesem Buch!

Monday, April 03, 2017

Yvain Release Celebration Post # 3!

Hello again! So, the dummy is done, the character and location design is approved, we are ready to go to

opening view of part 3 of Yvain

Part 3: Final Art for Yvain

Step 1: Testing drawing and painting styles
Getting my tools ready...

Before diving into finished art, I wanted to do a couple of tests to see how different styles and media would work for the story. There were several things I had to keep in mind when doing these test pages:

1. Of course, the style had to fit the feel I wanted create for the story. I wanted something that allowed for depth and subtlety, but also some hard lines. The story has all the romantic notions of a typical knight’s tale but underneath there is sharp irony and the rockhard resolve of the characters. I wanted that to be reflected in the art.

2. The speech bubbles would not be done by me but by the art director, in close communication with me. This is unusual for graphic novels and it meant that I had to figure out a way of putting the pages together that allowed me to still make adjustments when the speech bubbles were put in place.

3. Lastly, I needed to keep a close eye on the amount of time I had to plan for each page and find a middle ground between creating beautiful art and staying within my schedule.

I started out by trying different media for the line work. I have always admired the beautiful brush work that artists like Craig Thompson use for their graphic novels. Even though I knew it would take lots and lots of practice to get a beautiful line using brushes, I wanted to try it out to see if it might work for the story:
Trying ink brush...

As much as I love this style, I immediately felt that this was not right for what I had in mind. This kind of line tends to create a flat look and the line itself conveys the atmosphere and the emotion. Also, it creates a beautiful flow, and this did not feel right for the story either. I was looking for line work that allowed for more detail and depth to build up the atmosphere more slowly. Also, rather than flow, I wanted the line work to be very steady, to almost give the impression that it was edged in stone.

So next, I tried pencil. Working in pencil there are lots of possibilities for subtlety and gradation and I could easily vary between hard and soft lines. I liked how the test page turned out, especially the dimension I was able to give the characters through shading:
…pencil...

The third medium I tried out was fine liner. I tend to use either pencil or fine liner in my work so I feel very comfortable with both. I liked the outcome with this medium as well, it had a harder quality to it, almost chiseled, which I liked very much for what I was hoping to convey in my art. This medium is not as forgiving though as pencil, if I made a mistake it would be much more difficult to rectify than with pencil:
… and fine liner for final line work.

I decided to go to color in both the pencil and the fine liner art and see how it would work. These days I usually work with watercolor when I go to color in my art. For the pencil art work I could not use watercolor because it does not stick on pencil, so I worked with glazing, which I love to use for my fine art:
Work in progress on color glazes for the pencil version...

This gave me a beautiful luminous effect and vibrant colors. It was extremely time consuming though because I had to allow for drying time and build up the colors very slowly.
… and the final result. 

Next I worked with watercolor on my fine liner version. This was nice to work with, I had great control over the colors and compared to the glazing I could work quite a bit faster.
The final result for fine liner and watercolor.

As a third option I tried digital coloring. This would definitely be a practical choice because I would not have to scan the artwork in again and it would be easier to make adjustments to the art. I liked how it developed, but felt that it might be too clean or cold for what I wanted for the story:
Digital color for the pencil version of the page.

When comparing the finished test pages, I felt that after all the pencil art was too soft and gave a misty impression. I did not want that. This knight’s story was crisp and rough and M.T. Anderson’s retelling of it highlighted the ironic tone. I did not want to soften that, but compliment it. On the other hand, the digital coloring I felt put too much of a distance between the artwork and the reader. I wanted there to be a tactile quality that pulled the reader into this world. So I decided to go with the version using fine liner and watercolors, that transported the same crispness and roughness I heard in Anderson’s tone but also offered a tangible quality through the style of coloring.

The finalized test page that I sent to the publisher.


Step 2: Working „in order“

After approval from the author and art director I set out to paint the remaining 128 pages of the book. I put up the concept sketches next to my desk to make sure that I had a clear idea of the colors and the design at all times:
The color studies up on my studio wall. Depending on what scene I was painting I would pull down the corresponding color studies and put them right next to my work to have them in view at all times (that's why there are empty spaces where a page of the color studies is missing.)

On the other side went a schedule of the work I had to do:

My work schedule, well into working on Yvain

Then I got to work:

Starting with the sketch from my dummy...

…I transferred the sketch and created the line art...

…then painted with watercolors...

…finally scanned the painting and made digital adjustments to get it ready for print.

When talking to other artists who had worked on a project of this scale many had advised me not to work start to finish. They said that this can show in the book in several different ways: either the style changes from start to finish as the artist becomes familiar with the characters and the world he paints and so the beginning of the book might look completely different from the end. This might happen too if the artist gets rushed towards the end and is forced to adjust the style to make the deadline. I wanted to avoid both scenarios so I decided to paint „scene by scene“ or „location by location“ if you will. This way I was hoping to keep a consistency in the art and present a book realized to the best of my potential in the end.

This meant that, for example, I painted all the storm scenes together:
The storm on pages 14/15 and on pages 114-117

Or the scene of Yvain with the demon family:

Yvain meets the master of the sweat shop castle with his demon sons

For some scenes I also had specific lighting planned, for example the scene of Lunette and Laudine sparring. I used a fireplace here as a single light source because I wanted there to be a strong contrast between the two figures. Laudine is illuminated by fire, while Lunette's face is hidden in shadow the entire time. This way I wanted to suggest the opposite colors of chess players or opposing teams. To make sure that I stayed consistent with the lighting and the colors I painted the pages of this scene all together:
The scene of Lunette and Laudine lit by the fireplace 


Step 3: Combining Art and Text

As I said before, this graphic novel project was unusual in that the speech bubbles were done by the art director. To make sure that we would have as much freedom as possible to adjust the art and the placement of speech bubbles, I decided to paint the pages containing dialogue frame by frame so we could move each of them around:
Painting each frame separately to allow for adjustments later on when the speech bubbles are put in place...

This proved very helpful when working on the final layout with the wonderful art director for this project, Sherry Fatla. She sent me the page with the suggested placement of the speech bubbles. I was able to comment and make suggestions but also to move the art in each frame to compliment her placement:
…the first version of the page with speech bubbles in place...

…and the final version. Now the change of placement of the first speech bubble on the page clarifies the order in which the bubbles should read. Also, the art in the middle frame on the bottom has moved to allow more space for the speech bubbles without too much image information being lost. 

This was a time-consuming process that involved a lot of discussion and weighing of options together with the art director and the author. But it was definitely worth it and made for a much more beautiful and successful book in the end: 
On the left is the first version, on the right the final version of the page: By moving the first bubble to the right it now becomes clear that the lion reacts to Yvain's speech. Also, now the slave master's speech bubble is cutting into Yvain's bubble in frame 5. This visually underlines the fact that he is cutting off Yvain's speech.

It was also a great experience getting to understand where each artist was coming from, the designer, the author and the illustrator, and thinking outside of ones’ own box. 

The Finish Line
Pages and pages of final art...

Finally, the artwork was done and sent to the art director, and the placement of the speech bubbles discussed and finalized. Now I got to sit back and see how Sherry put together the beautiful book design. A huge thank you to her for putting so much love and care into each detail of the book! Just an example: we were discussing the font to use for the book and had found one, "Southern Belle“, that we all liked:
The font "Southern Belle" by designer Angie Baldelomar

However, not every font is ideal to be placed in speech bubbles, and this font proved tricky because of the long ascenders and descenders. Sherry actually contacted the designer of the font to ask if she would allow us to make adjustments, and the designer was kind enough to allow it:
In the lower, adjusted version the ascenders and descenders (for example the t and h, the y and g) are shortened slightly. This way the leading can be smaller, the text can be slightly larger in the speech bubble and the type can be placed more easily within the round shape of the bubble.

Then, it was time for presents:

Present #1: The color proofs arrived, and were absolutely beautiful! There were only small details to clean up and everything was good to go to print:
the color proofs for interior art and cover art

Present #2: In december I received a copy of the advance reading copy with a disclaimer that because of the paper quality the colors would be very muted. Still, it was so exciting to hold the first bound copy of the book in my hands and leaf through it! 

Present #3: The timing was just perfect: On Christmas Day I received the first bound copy of the finished book! I am so happy with how it turned out:
The cover of the ARC (left) and the final book (right)...

…and interior pages of ARC (left) and final book (right).

Present # 4: On top of wonderful reviews, today I received a letter from the Junior Library Guild informing me that Yvain is part of their selection for spring 2017:
The letter and certificate from the Junior Library Guild

I am so happy and grateful!

This book was three years in the making and I am so proud of the end result. A huge thank you to everyone in my vicinity for bearing with me during the process of making this book, especially my family! A lot can happen in three years, and so it did with us. In that time I moved my studio space twice, my husband and I moved to a new home, and we welcomed our daughter, so Yvain actually has a „production baby“:

Working on Yvain while baby is taking a nap...

I am excited that after this period of intense work the book is out now for all of you to read, I hope you will enjoy it. Thank you for reading my little recap and see you again soon with more news on new projects!

This was a fantastic project… now on to new things!