Monday, September 10, 2012

Wolf Song rough copy and art layout

Wolf Song now has images and rough layout for the copy! It is exciting to see the words and pictures married up. Now that we can see how it all works together, Tracy Cox (my book designer) and I can go over different aspects of the book such as: how the pacing of the book feels as a whole, what art feel redundant, copy that needs trimming down and does the copy placement work for each page? 
I am working on the cover image and hope to finish the sketches by today. 
Once we address the fixes my next step is to do small color roughs of all the layouts (similar to a color script used in animation) for us to visualize how color works over the course of the book emotionally and artistically.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Revision Sketches for Wolf Song

Here are a few of the sketches I have been working on. More to come as I work my way through the book. You can see how I went from simple story beat sketches to more detailed images. It is all about revisions! Revisions of the the story, the page, the sketches and the copy. You will notice the Girl's face and age need to become more consistent as I work out her character. The Wolf is still needs to become a real solid character.

A gold medal winner for A Stranger At Home!

Last year's finalist medal for Fatty Legs in the Juvenile Non-Fiction and this year's winner medal for A Stranger at Home for Multicultural Juvenile/Teen/YA Non-Fiction. Big thanks to Margaret,Maggie De VriesLiz Amini-Holmes and Annick Press. And congratulations to the very talented Cheri Lasota who just earned herself one of these in the EBook catergory :)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Children's Literature Network Article

My article for Children's Literature Network is up on the Bookscope section of their website:
 I chose to write about how I pick scenes to depict when illustrating a book. My favorites are the “the anything can happen” moments.

Posted June 5th, 2012

Liz Amini-Holmes shares the story behind her story …

The ProtectorsI always love the time right before a storm; the rustling of the leaves, the wind picking up, clouds racing across the sky. You never know what was about to happen next. I feel the same way about choosing which moment to illustrate from a story. There are moments in a story where an illustrator must make a choice about what to depict. I love the times in-between when things are not said yet, the action is not in full swing, “the anything can happen” moment.
Working as an illustrator is about deciding which moments to depict. With often short and intense deadlines, there is an immediacy, the need to capture something ephemeral, which for me comes in making an emotional connection between the action and the characters. There is an apparent place where the character can make a choice—go down that path of pins and needles or play it safe. My goal is to make the reader more connected to the character by living in that frozen moment, fully experiencing it from the character’s point of view and the choices they can make.
The Protectors was one of the first Leveled Reader books I illustrated. The story had plenty of excitement and even some danger that gave me many opportunities to engage the reader’s attention. Naomi James is the adventurous daughter of a marine biologist who knows how to sail her own boat, free dive, and take underwater photos. I related to Naomi because I too was an only child who liked nature adventures either in real life or in stories. It made illustrating her a lot easier because I could relate to her independent spirit. She was not a girly-girl, but a tomboy on a mission to explore her world.
When Naomi stumbles upon a plot to illegally capture dolphins near her home’s reef area she manages to take pictures of the poachers threatening the dolphins, which eventually leads to their arrest. But she must face danger to get close enough to see them. Here is one example of where my interest really peaked. At one point her boat capsizes and she must swim all the way back to shore. I could have to depicted her near the capsized boat or safely on shore but I chose the moment where she is swimming and tired and not sure if she will make to the beach, “the anything can happen” moment. And hopefully the reader is with her in the water, for that moment not knowing what is going to happen.
Illustrating The Protectors and subsequent books gave me insight and experience I needed to go on to create paintings for the award-winning books Fatty Legs: A True Story and its sequel A Stranger At Home. These stories have several difficult emotional situations and frightening “anything can happen” moments, and, for me, many thrilling choices to make.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Fatty Legs and A Stranger At Home Book Trailer

We were very fortunate to score the book trailer with the beautiful, haunting song "Say Your Name" by the internationally known musician, Keith Secola.
Christy Jordan Fenton, Keith Secola, Mark Holmes and myself worked on producing the trailer. 
The trailer was premiered by at the Native American Music Awards ceremony in October of 2011.
You can watch the trailer on youtube:

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Next Step In Making Wolf Song: The 32 Page Storyboard Layout.

Now that I have worked out the major scenes for the book I will start on designing art to fit a 32-page book using page spreads and vignettes. It's  a lot like a comic strip where I can plan more detailed sequence of events but still the art will be rough so I can feel free to make changes without investing a too much time as I will make many changes to the rough sketches as I go along.

This is also the part of the process where I think about how the images flow across the pages and work with the story copy. I will do this a many times in the process of the book to get the right feel for the book because it must work as a whole. I want to vary the layouts so the book is interesting and dynamic page-to-page.

Here is a 32 page a blank storyboard template. You can download this image to work on your own books.

After the storyboard is worked out, I make a small rough book dummy, which I will demonstrate later in my blog.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Rough Storyboards for Wolf Song

I roughed in (please note ROUGHED) the main scenes for Wolf Song. I will be re-drawing and re-composing a lot of it but it is so important to take that big step from words to pictures. Once the images are roughed in you can analyze the pacing, drama and weed out receptiveness or dull moments. At this point I will tease out the style and tone of the book. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Gold IPPY Award for A Stranger At Home

A Stranger at Home has won the Gold award in the IPPY (Independent Publishers) Book Awards, Multicultural Non-Fiction Juvenile, Teen, YA category. Three Cheers to Christy and Margaret for an amazing story!!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wolf Song Drawing Test

I am now to posting some of the drawing tests I am working on for the book Wolf Song. Here is a quick sketch of the Wolf and Girl which I will also do a rough painting for color and mood. If you are interested in reading the story  (which is very much in-progress) you can go to my pages section and click on Wolf Song.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Book Of The Year Award 2011 Finalist

A Stranger At Home made the Book Of The Year Award 2011!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Wolf Song

I am in the throws of creating a new picture book called Wolf Song. I re-told a Native American folk tale about a lonesome wolf. Since it is a picture book I kept the story to about 1,100 words and there is some wiggle room to edit down to 1000 words (the high end of picture book copy.) I am now creating art for the story. When the dummy and some finished paintings are done I plan on sending it out to editors.
People often ask me how do I make a storybook dummy so I decided as the process goes along I will post my progress.
1. Story done.
2. Next thing to do are the book thumbnails. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

The White Ravens Award

A Stranger at Home has been chosen as one of the titles for The White Ravens 2012, the annual selection of outstanding international books for children and young adults, which will be presented at the Bologna Children's Book Fair. The books for this year's exhibition, 250 titles from more than 40 countries, were selected from the thousands of books that the White Ravens library received as review copies from publishers, authors, illustrators, and organisations from all over the world within the last year.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Bid On Art for The Drawing Dreams Charity

If you are interested in buying my print "Entwined" or one of the other gorgeous pieces available for the The Drawing Dreams Charity please go to:

Bidding is from March 1st through March 21st

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Drawing Dreams Charity Auction

Attend the Drawing Dreams Charity Auction March 1st
Click the link below to reserve complimentary tickets to the auction. There are 90 very well known artist's work being auctioned off. My print "Entwined" in in the show. Nice to be in such great company!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Stranger At Home makes the 2012 USBBY list

Great news from USBBY (United States Board on Books for Young People)! Two Annick titles have been named to the 2012 USBBY Outstanding International Books Award.

Stranger at Home  by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, illustrated by Liz Amini-Holmes made this prestigious list!

To see which other books were included, go to

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Quill and Quire Review for A Stranger At Home

A Stranger at Home

A Stranger at Home is the second instalment in Margaret Pokiak-Fenton’s poignant memoirs, written with her daughter-in-law, Christy Jordan-Fenton. The first, Fatty Legs, recalled Margaret’s miserable, two-year stay at a residential school in the Northwest Territories. In the sequel, the Inuit girl, now 10 years old, returns to her family, but the homecoming is not as she hoped. The experience at the school seems to have changed her so much that her mother at first insists she is “not my girl.”  
Margaret feels rejected and misunderstood as she struggles to recall her native language, eat the food her mother prepares, and reconcile her “outsiders’ education” with her family’s customs. Even her given name, Olemaun, sounds foreign.
Finding solace in books, Margaret gradually finds ways to reconnect with her family and surroundings. As she becomes Olemaun once again, she reclaims her place in the family, proudly wearing her mother’s parka, driving her own sled, and going on a hunt with her father. When she returns to school after a year at home, Margaret is stronger, wiser, and better equipped to deal with the assaults on her native culture and identity. 
The story presents a moving portrait of one family’s difficult reconciliation and of the deep wounds left by the residential school system. The prose, written from the perspective of 10-year-old Margaret, is simple, honest, and infused with a young girl’s mixed emotions, making the story accessible and engrossing.
Small photos in the margins, meant to illustrate aspects of the narrative, are distracting. However, Liz Amini-Holmes’s illustrations are beautifully rendered, capturing the landscape in rich, saturated colours. In combination  with Margaret’s story, they help create a textured, compelling book.

Monday, January 16, 2012