The Really Awful Musicians has a cast of characters who appear throughout the story. It’s important for me to decide on the colors for their costumes before I start painting the final illustrations. This color sketch is a reference tool that makes it easy to keep the color consistent.
I’ve written about color scripts before—where I create one big color study that includes every page in a book. I grabbed the idea from the animated movie world. Color is a powerful tool for telling your story: setting the mood and indicating time of day. In The Really Awful Musicians I wanted everything to take place in 24 hours, just like classical plays were plotted. Oedipus Rex is one that comes to my mind—all the action takes only one day to happen.
The color script helped me to underscore that idea. The first scenes explain how the king bans all music, then I introduce the musician Piffaro just as the sun is setting. Off he goes on his wild nighttime escape from the kingdom, meeting another musician early next morning. They in turn meet other musicians throughout the day; the plot resolves itself by late afternoon and the happy ending is in the castle that evening.
In my color script you can see little arrows I’ve drawn to show where the sun is shining his light on the scenes as the characters travel along. All this is not meant to be important to reader—but by showing the passage of time I hope I’ve added a little bit of urgency to the story.
More of that jacket art for The Really Awful Musicians. Before I begin my painting, I work up a small color study.
Thanks to my buddy Louise for finding this online!
Here are the thumbnail sketches for The Really Awful Musicians jacket art, and the tight sketch.
My pal Jackie Mims Hopkins sends this photo of a wonderful story-reading chair straight out of Joe Bright and the Seven Genre Dudes! It’s the handiwork of fabulous librarian Leanne Drake to celebrate Jackie’s school visit and an upcoming storytelling festival. Nice job! Here‘s an older post showing the chair illustration in progress.
John Manders Illustration
Caricatures, Comic Strips
School Assembly Visits