What I’m Up To at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Jed Henry

h1 January 24th, 2013 by jules

(Click to enlarge spread)

Today over at Kirkus, I’ll have a Q&A with author/illustrator Melissa Sweet, in which we’ll discuss two of her brand-new picture book titles, as well as a bit more. That link is here.

As Vicky Smith wrote here at Kirkus this week, Black History Month is just around the bend. Wisely, she added: “[H]ere’s hoping that the industry does not forget or neglect books by and about African-Americans for the next 11 months.” Since teachers and librarians will be looking for new titles for the dedicated month-long celebration (and beyond, we hope), tomorrow at Kirkus I take a look at some new picture books for this annual February observance. That link will be here.

* * *

Last week, I wrote (here) about Jed Henry’s Cheer Up, Mouse! (Houghton Mifflin, January). Today, Jed visits to share art (a spread is pictured above), including a progression of images that shows the birth of the book jacket art. I thank him. Let’s get to it …

“Splash and paddle, wash and wade— / Cheer up, Mouse!
Looks like Mouse is sinking deeper. / I can make him jump for joy.”

(Click to enlarge spread)

“Chirp and whistle, pipe and hum— / Cheer up, Mouse!
Singing won’t fill Mouse’s stomach. / Hearty grub is what he needs.”

(Click to enlarge spread)

“Tuck and tumble, flip and flop— / Cheer up, Mouse!
Hey, where’s Mouse going?”

(Click to enlarge spread)


* * * Book Jacket Progression * * *
(Click each image to enlarge)


Jed: “This is my initial line sketch for the jacket design. I draw directly into Photoshop with a Wacom tablet. I like sketching in Photoshop, because it allows me to make slight adjustments, without having to redraw the entire composition.
It really helps when you’re juggling nine characters on every spread!”

Jed: “Because watercolor is such an unforgiving medium, I like to plan out the different color washes in Photoshop. I then use the color mock-up as a guide while I paint.”

Jed: “You can’t beat real watercolor for texture and spontaneity, so it’s time to break out the brushes! I paint at about 130% scale of the final book size — to squeeze in as much detail as possible. There’s no sense worrying about finesse;
this will just be the base for later Photoshop work.”

Jed: “Next, I scan the watercolor painting back into Photoshop and continue the process digitally. The digital brush looks exactly like pastels
when applied onto the watercolor background.”

Jed: “I add contour lines with a thin digital brush.”

Jed: “Finally the talented designers, editors, and printers at Houghton Mifflin work their magic. They’ve done a great job! I’m especially in love with the
100% cotton rag paper — it feels so timeless!”

* * *

For fun, here’s the book trailer below. And here’s what Jed said (hey, wait … I should have named this post “What Jed Said”) about its creation:

I studied animation in college, and even though my career has shifted over to publishing, I still get to animate every once in a while. This book trailer took about 3 solid weeks of work to complete. I cut the different illustrations into puppets, and animated them in After Effects. My super-talented brother, Jordan Henry, did the music. Some family friends did the Peanuts-style deadpan dialogue.

* * * * * * *

CHEER UP, MOUSE! Copyright © 2012 by Jed Henry. Published by Houghton Mifflin, Boston. All images reproduced with permission of Jed Henry.

2 comments to “What I’m Up To at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Jed Henry”

  1. Melissa Sweet AND Jed Henry–two illustrators I’ve had the great good fortune to work with in 2012. Hats off to both of them and to you, Jules, for showcasing their work!

  2. Splash & Paddle…love that illustration!! Smiles!!

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