In my never ending attempt to get my studio and files organized, I came across reference photos I had stored away for “The Zippity Zinger”. One of ten Hank Zipzer book covers I illustrated for Penguin Young Readers Group, Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver.
My assignment for the series was to show the antics of the main character but with a twist, I couldn’t reveal his face or expressions! ( My favorite thing to paint! ) So body language and action had to convey what was happening. The character couldn't be recognizable so I needed to create an angle that disguised his features, which meant I usually had to sketch Hank from the back.
It was a fun challenge!
I always started my assignments by doing a series of thumbnails/small drawings of possible character poses. Then I looked for my model. On this series I used my nephew/godson Chase as a stand in for Hank Zipzer. Chase was always a good sport and managed to get close to the ideas/sketches that I showed him. He always came to the shoots with a true acting spirit!
I took a series of photos for reference and from there did several sketches. The publisher picked the sketch they liked the best then adjusted the setting, ( I did another sketch with a city view, see the finished cover above ) and started to paint.
I love doing portraits. Though that didn’t happen for this series it did for many of my other covers, picture books and assignments.
For instance, Robin Hood was my pizza delivery guy! In the same picture book King Richard was a man that worked in the local post office. I’ve painted a box boy, a grocery clerk, students, delivery people, lots of acquaintances, friends, family etc. etc. etc.! Wherever I see a wonderful face I'll stop and ask if they would be interested in posing for a book! It's one of my favorite things!!!