Tillie Time

Posted by on May 2, 2017 in Children's Book Illustration, drawing, Illustration | 0 comments

I recently illustrated the cover of Mary Atkinson’s second middle grade novel, Tillie Heart and Soul, that just earned a starred review from Kirkus!

As soon as I heard that Tillie was a roller skater, I was into it. After reading the manuscript, I began a little page of doodles.

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Then I began doing my homework for visual research on skater culture. And did more sketches. Tillie is a fifth grade girl living with her Uncle Fred. She’s an awkward but tough kid, and gets her share of scrapes.

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I wanted to show energy here, with hair and limbs flying out of the image frame.

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A new girl arrives and Tillie’s so-called best friend seems to ditch her for totally cool Gloria.

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Here Tillie’s coming right at the viewer, fiercely determined.

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I tried eliminating the need to define Tillie’s features by just showing her skates, heading pell-mell out of the image.

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Here she’s skating past the piano factory where she lives in a loft with Fred, a painter. I keep sticking with the striped socks!

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I tried Tillie looking at the viewer, unsure, as the two other girls skate away. The whole composition is off balance, suggesting the dynamic in her life.

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Mary liked Tillie skating at the viewer, so I refined my sketch and put in some type for placement, as well as the piano factory in the background.

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I added some color.

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Mary wanted Tillie to look “kind of like” Punky Brewster, which threw me off for awhile. I did a weekend of sketches of just Tillie’s face, trying to capture the right expression and attitude. Finally, we landed on this.

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And now they are published! There is nothing like a box of brand new books.

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photo by Mary Atkinson

Join Mary this Saturday at Print: A Bookstore when she celebrates the launch of her book, from 3 – 4 PM!

 

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