Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Making of a Cover: The Wrong Side of the Bed

Legendary librarian, teacher, and children’s book advocate John Schu (aka @MrSchuReads in the twittersphere) was kind enough to unveil the front cover of The Wrong Side of the Bed on his blog the other day. Written by Lisa M. Bakos and illustrated by yours truly, the book is scheduled for release by G.P. Putnam’s Sons on March 8, 2016.

It’s been a long time in the making. In fact, next week marks two years since I was first approached about illustrating Lisa’s hilarious text. As anyone in publishing knows, that’s just how things go sometimes. But hip, hip, hooray!—today I turned in the last bit of art for the book, the endpapers.

Anyway, I’m thrilled to have the chance to show off the front cover, and since you’ll have to wait a bit longer for a view of the interiors, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share a bit of the cover-making process.

first thumbnail sketches

The first challenge was fitting all ten characters in the story onto the jacket. As you can see above, I tried a couple of variations, with the main character surrounded by, or next to the rowdy group of animals with whom she contends. But none of these really seemed to convey enough mayhem. (One note: even though the sketch on the lower right didn’t make it as a cover, I used a similar arrangement for the endpapers.)

For the second round of sketches, my fabulous Art Director, Cecilia Yung thought that a bed should be used as a component coming in between the main character and the animals—to literally show her on the wrong side of the bed. I had been worried that such a static element might be too dull, but I tried it anyway. Here’s what I came up with, and I even worked it up into several finished variations. We thought we were there, but...

from the second round of sketches
a color finish
It turned out, this worked much better as a black and white sketch than a full-color illustration. So it was back to the drawing board. Our book designer, Annie Ericsson had the brilliant idea of using the bed as a graphic element, rather than making it too realistic. In this option, she suggested hiding the main character under the blankets, thus accentuating the craziness of the animals, who could be peaking over the top.

I loved the idea, and ran with it. As you can see in the first sketch below, on the left side—which would have been the back of the jacket—I pushed things a little too far with the farting penguins (note the dazed and repulsed hippopotamus). As all good art directors do, Cecilia reined me in just a tiny bit. That’s what you see in the final sketch, and in the finished cover.

jacket sketch, third round

final jacket sketch
The Wrong Side of the Bed hits bookshelves in March, but it’s currently available for pre-order through the Penguin Random House website. Thanks for reading, if you made it this far!