Tuesday, April 5, 2016

new Polar Bear story... doodles & sketches

Thus far in my career I've illustrated 24 picture books. (#23 is "The Kid from Diamond Street" written by Audrey Vernick/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and #24 is "Puppy Princess" written by Sue Fliess/Little Golden Books Random House -are both being released this year.
In 2017 I will have picture books #25 and #26 published... one of them being "Goldenlocks and the Three Pirates" written by April Jones Prince/Farrar Straus & Giroux) 

But of all these published picture books, only four of the titles am I also the author: "Coco the Carrot"  "Little Tumbo"  "Harry Hungry"  and  most recently in 2015 for Abrams Books, "Wild Child."

So I am always writing new picture book stories. Right now I'm writing one about a Polar Bear who travels from his home at the North Pole to try and find out why all the ice is melting and the days are getting warmer. Because I'm an illustrator, the great advantage is that as I am writing the story, even when it's still in a very rough preliminary draft stage, at the same time I can also be doodling and sketching the characters of the story, which sometimes can help me figure out how to shape the narrative. Posted here are a few sketches which are developing the look and feel of the bear character. They are all created with ink and digital color.

Visit stevensalerno.com to see my picture books as well as my illustration portfolios for advertising, editorial, food, etc...

polar bear story sketch. visit stevensalerno.com

polar bear story sketch. visit stevensalerno.com
polar bear story sketch. visit stevensalerno.com

Monday, March 21, 2016

HOOT! (the owl illustration project that never got off the ground)

For the past 5 months I have been entrenched in my latest picture book project (Goldenlocks and the Three Pirates for publisher Farrar Straus & Giroux) and during this time I have very little extra time to also take on other peripheral illustration projects. So when I do, they are projects which are not tedious or too big, and I feel I can handle the time it will take to complete them....

This post is about an assignment I recently took on from a design & branding firm here in NYC... whose client is in the clean energy field. The thrust of the project was for me to design an owl character who would appear on the client's new web site to act as an informational guide to their services. Once I designed the character the project was to also create five illustrations depicting the owl in various actions relative to five aspects of the client's provided service features. Here are the preliminary color sketches I presented...

sketch #01 crayon and digital color

sketch #02 crayon and digital color
-at this stage it was decided that the owl would be RED color.... one of five colors to be strictly used within a limited palette chosen by the design firm as part of the visual architecture of the client's web site...
sketch #03 crayon and digital color

sketch #04 crayon and digital color

sketch #05 crayon and digital color

The above sketches, 1 thru 5, are the initial character sketches I created.... #05 being the finalized version most like by the design firm at this stage. (This is all before anything is shown to the client)

sketch #06 crayon and digital color

sketch #07 crayon and digital color

sketch #08 crayon and digital color

sketch #09 crayon and digital color

The above sketches, 6 thru 9, are side versions created because the design firm now wanted to explore the concept of the owl looking more minimal and graphic, kind of like the google map locator icon...

sketch #10 crayon and digital color

sketch #11 crayon and digital color

sketch #12 crayon and digital color

The above sketches, 10 and 11 are additional side versions created because the design firm then wanted to explore the concept of the owl looking more naturalistic yet still stylized... Sketch #12 was sort of a hybrid between the naturalistic representation and the earlier initial sketch #05...

sketch #13 crayon and digital color

Above sketch #13 was created as the "final" sketch... because after seeing all the various versions the design firm felt that the final look should return back to looking more like the owl did in my initial sketches, using #03 as the reference to work off of.... 

So sketch #13 was the character version presented to the client as what they felt should be the look of the owl.

Long story short... the client rejected the entire look and thrust of the proposed newly designed web site presented by the design firm, and so the owl character as a concept was tossed out with the bath water...

Moral of the story for all you green-behind-the-ears young illustrators: 
always make sure and have your client sign an assignment agreement contract with you before even starting the project. And make sure that the contract has a kill-fee clause in place defining exactly how much your fee will be in the case of the project being terminated after you have completed the sketch stage. Which, of course, I did. 

Visit stevensalerno.com to view my various portfolio sections.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Arrrrgh! -a pirate spin to a classic children's book story

My latest picture book project, well under way, is illustrating the April Jones Prince story Goldenlocks and the Three Pirates. It's the spirited retelling of the classic story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears... but this time with a fun pirate spin. 

I spent the fall months in 2015 completing all the preliminary sketches and getting approval from the publisher, Farrar, Straus & Giroux... and have been plodding along since the middle of November working on the final illustrations, essentially completing one spread a week. (There are about 16 spreads in all, plus the title page art and of course the cover art too) It will probably take me until the beginning of March to complete this project, my 25th illustrated picture book to date, and the first time working with FS&G (editor: the marvelous Margaret Ferguson)

Posted here is a sneak peek at one of the completed finished illustrations.... actually a detail view, not the full image. It's of the main character, Goldenlocks, fast asleep in one of the pirate hammocks. It was created with a deep sepia crayon, gouache and additional digital color.

view an earlier post about this project and view preliminary sketches.

another earlier post here too!

detail from illustration by Steven Salerno for Goldenlocks and the Three Pirates by April Jones Prince

Goldenlocks and the Three Pirates slated for release in spring of 2017.

And look for my next illustrated picture book The Kid from Diamond Street in spring 2016!
Written by Audrey Vernick... our second picture book teamed together. It's the true story of remarkable Philadelphia girl Edith Houghton… who became a professional baseball player at age ten, playing for the Philadelphia Bobbies, and at age thirteen (in 1925) Edith was star player on an all-female USA team that toured Japan and competed against that country’s college-level male baseball teams. As an adult Edith went on to become the first female scout in all of Major League baseball.

In 2015, I had two other picture books released: 
WILD CHILD (written & illustrated by Steven Salerno -August 2015, Abrams Books for Young Readers) It’s a story about a new kind of wild creature that dominates the jungle, and how all the other animals try and tame it to restore peace and quiet. But nothing they try works. The wild creature just gets wilder… until the clever Gorilla finally figures out a way.
The Fantastic Ferris Wheel (written by Betsy Harvey Kraft, illustrated bySteven Salerno -October 2015, Christy Ottaviano Books) It’s the true life account of American engineer George Washington Ferris, inventor of the giant observation wheel built for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, and dubbed the “Ferris Wheel”. 

Visit stevensalerno.com to view all my various illustration portfolios, and my many picture books for kids.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

TBT: Late Night NYC night club scene (circa 1997)

"Late Night NYC" illustration by Steven Salerno ©1997
Here's an ink & pastel illustration I created 18 years ago depicting a lively NYC nightclub scene... I can't remember who the client was, or even if it was an advertising or editorial assignment, but it's one of my favorites. I have it framed and on display in my studio. 

It was made simply by drawing the line art of the characters with an ink nib pen, then rubbing pastel colors into the paper with my fingers. If I were to create this same type illustration today I would still draw the characters with and ink pen on paper, but instead of rubbing the pastel into the ink drawing, I would rub the pastel onto a separate piece of paper, then scan the ink drawing and the pastel piece into Photoshop in separate layers. This would give me more flexibility in merging the ink line drawing with the pastel color background in terms of additionally manipulating the colors digitally as well as jockeying the positions of both elements. 

Visit stevensalerno.com

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

drawing portrait of activist Frederick Douglass

Earlier today I created a portrait drawing of Abraham Lincoln… then this afternoon I decided it needed a companion piece, so I also created this portrait drawing of Frederick Douglass (1817 - 1895), the man who was enslaved, escaped, and became an antislavery activist before and during the American Civil War -and was invited to participate in discussions with President Lincoln on the problems of slavery in the country. 

 Like the "Abe" portrait the Frederick Douglass drawing was creating with crayon, ink, gouache, then scanned into Photoshop where I painted in digital color. 

Visit stevensalerno.com to view all my various illustration portfolios, and my many picture books for kids.

Abe -my drawing portrait of Abraham Lincoln.

Posted here is my simple, no frills drawing of President Abraham Lincoln… Honest Abe -with his humble birth-place log cabin home seen in the background. 
I always have a ton of material, books, etc… all making a mess of my drawing table, such that I have to always push stuff out of the way to make space on the surface to actually make my art. This morning I just happened to have an old 1958 encyclopedia with all the important information on things starting with the letter “L” -so I flipped it open and was thumbing through and came to a striking photograph of President Abraham Lincoln.
I picked up a piece of paper, and with an orange crayon roughed in the sketch of Abe using the photo as my reference… and obviously I exaggerated Abe’s leanness. This took about ten minutes. Then I used a brown ink “pen-brush” to further delineate his face, followed by darkening some lines and areas with a black pen-brush, this process taking about another ½ hour. I scanned the drawing into Photoshop where in stacked layers I painted the color digitally. (the lettering of “Abe” was also done digitally) Maybe another half hour in all. Done. 
Normally I do not work that quickly unless I am just sketching of doodling… but in this case case I simply wanted to breeze through doing this portrait in a short period of time and move on with my day… I came out nicely.
Visit stevensalerno.com to view all my various illustration portfolios, and my many picture books for kids.

Friday, October 23, 2015

current picture book project: Goldenlocks and the Three Pirates

It seems I alway have one foot in the current year (2015), and the other foot in some other era depending on whatever picture book I am working on! 

For example in 2012 - 2013 I was working on the intense illustrations for the picture book, The Fantastic Ferris Wheel (written by Betsy Harvey Kraft -release date October 2015 by Christy Ottaviano Books) -the true life story about American engineer George Ferris, creator of the first giant observation wheel built for the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, and nicknamed, of course, the Ferris Wheel! I was immersed in the iron and steel, steam powered world of 1890's America... the fashions, architecture, and design of everyday objects like telephones, automobiles, phonographs, horse-drawn wagons, steam trains, etc...  See my earlier post on the making of the illustrations for The Fantastic Ferris Wheel

Then in 2014 and straddling into 2015, I was working on the illustrations for the upcoming picture book, The Kid from Diamond Street (written by Audrey Vernick -release date spring 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) which is the true life story about a girl from Philadelphia name Edith Houghton who at age ten (in 1922) became a professional baseball player! -and at age 13 (in 1925) played for an all-female American baseball team that toured Japan competing against their male teams. Later in her adult life Edith Houghton became the first female scout for Major League Baseball! So while working on the illustrations for that book my mind is filled with the fashions and automobiles of the roaring '20's decade. See my earlier post sneak peek at the cover of The Kid From Diamond Street

Now, suddenly, I am working on my next picture book project, Goldenlocks and the Three Pirates (written by April Jones Prince -release date 2017 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux) the whimsical retelling of the classic story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears... but this time with a fun pirate spin. So of course all during the preliminary sketch stage process my mind is filled with period sailing ships, cannons, swords, treasure chests, skull & crossbones, peg legs, and all the pirate era accessories... in an effort to bring my illustrative flavor to this tale. 

Posted here are a handful of the preliminary sketches and character studies. I just this week sent off all the final sketches to the editor on this book at Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Margaret Ferguson. So once the back and forth fine tuning of the sketches is concluded, hopefully in the beginning of November I'll be commencing with the final illustrations. Once the entire illustration process is fully concluded, and submitted a more detailed posting on the sketches and final art images.

preliminary sketch: introducing the three menacing pirates

preliminary sketch: Goldenlocks is lured to the pirate's sloop

preliminary sketch: the three pirates searching ship for the intruder

character study: developing Papa and Baby pirate

character study: developing Mama pirate

character study: developing Goldenlocks

And in-between all the above picture book projects, I also illustrated my very own story WILD CHILD ...which was released by Abrams Books for Young Readers in August of 2015.

It's the fun romp about the scariest animal of them all in the jungle -and how all the other animals do their best to try and tame it, otherwise there will never be any peace and quiet in the jungle ever again. To date I have illustrated 24 picture books, and Wild Child is the fourth book as both the author & illustrator. Here's the cover!

WILD CHILD -written & illustrated by Steven Salerno

Visit my web site stevensalerno.com to view samples of my illustration work for advertising and editorial, as well as my many picture books for kids.