This morning, we’re going to meet a dog, who is—in the words of illustrator Katherine Tillotson—a little more than a scribble and a smudge.
Shoe Dog (Richard Jackson/Atheneum Books for Young Readers), written by Megan McDonald and illustrated by Katherine, hits bookshelves next week. It tells the story of one very enthusiastic dog, adopted from a shelter, who loves to chew shoes. His owner—whom McDonald calls She, Herself—scolds the dog, but he repeatedly gets into trouble. Shoe Dog most certainly loves his cozy and warm home, where he’s so happy to be, but he struggles to behave. No worries. She, Herself eventually comes up with just the right solution, involving a cat. Of sorts.
Katherine is here today to tell us how she created the illustrations for this story — and what inspired her to do so. The story, particularly the artwork, are nothing short of “totally ebullient,” as the starred Kirkus review puts it. Shoe Dog is all action, energy, and bounce—I mean, right? Just look at him up above there—and it’s fascinating to read how Katherine put him together, as well as to read about the tools she used for everything that surrounds our naughty, but loving, protagonist.
So, let’s get right to it. I thank Katherine for sharing.
Katherine: When I begin work on a new book, it is always with small scribbly page layouts, but when I began work on the book Shoe Dog, I never expected that a small scribble would make his way to the final pages of the book.
A couple of my very early, very scribbly sketches:
When Shoe Dog originally landed on the page, he was a bull terrier. You can see him here in a couple early dummies for the book.
In the final illustrations, Shoe Dog still holds onto a smidgeon of terrier, but he is now little more than a scribble and a smudge. His essence.
I used crayons, a square graphite pencil, and charcoal to build the illustrations.
I will have to back up a little to describe the technique. My friend and crit-mate, Christy Hale, introduced me to a wonderful book, Creative Rubbings, published in 1967. I found the techniques described in the book irresistible.
Shapes were cut out of tag board, and then a crayon was used to rub an impression, much as we place a penny under a piece of paper and rub it with graphite to create a flat rendering of that penny. I loved the idea of using crayon rubbings to illustrate the world inhabited by the scribbly Shoe Dog.
I experimented with rubbing all sorts of textures …
…but mostly I cut out shapes and then made rubbings. These are how the environments—the house, furniture, stairs, shoes, etc.—were constructed.
Black and white sketches helped me determine value before I rendered the final illustrations in color.
The computer is a wonderful tool for collage, and Shoe Dog is basically collage. I scribbled and made crayon rubbings and then combined all the hand-made marks by using the computer.
Here is some of the final art [without the text]:
dozens of tummy rubs. A place as warm as soup and cozy as pie.”
(Click to enlarge)
(Click to enlarge)
Land of Sad Puppies and Scratched-Up Cats and One-Eared Bunnies. No!“
(Click to enlarge)
And lastly the cover, front and back:
Thank you so much for asking me to show and tell. I had such fun creating the illustrations for this story!
SHOE DOG. Copyright © 2014 by Megan McDonald. Illustrations © 2014 by Katherine Tillotson. Published by Richard Jackson/Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York. All images here reproduced by permission of Katherine Tillotson.
Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.
1) I really love how an old, obscure book from 1967 gave Katherine such inspiration.
2) Because my oldest was home for three days this week (adenoid surgery), I got to see an awful lot of her.
3) Painting clay.
4) A day out with the family yesterday to see Muppets Most Wanted. Very funny.
5) I got nice and unsolicited feedback about 7-Imp this week, which I really appreciate. In this day and age of rampant social media, I often stop to wonder if my blog is still relevant (I think this is a natural question for any blogger today; I promise I’m not just self-deprecating for fun), so to get compliments, ones that are truly informative, can be energizing.
What are YOUR kicks this week?