Friday, September 11, 2015

Jami Gigot's Dazzling Dummy Process Plus a Prize!

Jami Gigot started off her career in Animation. Along their way she moved on to Digital Texturing. While she still does work for film Jami is now also creating children's books. Jami's digital work is just gorgeous and translates beautifully into children's books. So far she has created one picture book dummy, but sometimes it only takes one beautiful piece to be published.

You can order an advance copy of Mae and the Moon here!
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I'll admit it. I am really new at this. When Dani invited me to participate as a guest blogger for the Smart Dummies challenge, a part of me was absolutely thrilled, but another part was thinking, seriously? Me? What do I know about making picture book dummies? The reality is I have made one picture book dummy that was worth sending anywhere, that wasn't just a completely incoherent mess to anyone but me in a sketchbook ( or in bits and pieces in several sketchbooks). One picture book dummy. One. But then I thought about it and realized how exceptionally hard I worked on that one picture book dummy. How I sacrificed hours of precious sleep to work on it while raising two toddlers and working an incredibly demanding day job as a visual effect artist in the film industry. In fact, that one little picture book dummy developed into a fully fledged passion and got me wholly rethinking my goals and what I want out of life.


When you think about it, these picture book dummies can be pretty powerful little things.

Amazingly, my first picture book dummy got a publisher's interest. Mae and the Moon is set to release by Ripple Grove Press September 8th, and I am ecstatic, nervous, anxious, and very excited. Once a contract was made, I did make a lot of revisions to that one picture book dummy. My original manuscript for Mae and the Moon was in prose, and my publisher wanted to get rid of the rhyme, so it was rewritten. The dummy book developed and changed. Many of the pages were scrapped and new ones created. It was an evolving project that needed molding into shape, but finally having that book in hand made it all worth it, and it was the dummy book that got me there.

The following is a list of some things that were prevalent in my mind while creating Mae and the Moon. I hope that they give you some food for thought this month as you complete the Smart Dummies challenge.

Characterization - I like to get to know my characters before I even start the dummy book. First I discover the character by drawing several variations of them until one of the drawings really speaks to me and I know that's the one. Then, I start to draw that character in a variety of different poses, actions, and with different expressions, perhaps using ideas from the story I have in mind. All of this helps me to intimately understand my characters and get more comfortable drawing them.

The power of the wordless page - My first rendition of my dummy book had no wordless pages but in the end, I ended up with four full spreads with only images and no text. I have had many people comment to me about the impact those pages made on them. The old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words is true. Sometimes, you may not need any words at all. Many books that I love have used this technique. Anyone else thinking about wild things swinging from the trees?

Interesting composition - Here's a short exercise for you: take a page that you've sketched out for your dummy book and redraw it a few times from various angles. How can you make your illustrations more interesting? Perhaps try a bird's eye view or worm's eye view. Consider the rule of thirds in your compositions (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_thirds). Think about where you want the reader to look, and how to draw the reader there through the use of line, color or space. Since I have a background in animation and visual effects work I also tend to think of the storyboarded pages as if it were shots from a film ( ie. a close-up, medium close-up, establishing shot etc.), and make sure there is variation.

Tell more with the pictures - Making the relationship between the text and the illustrations interesting, playful and thoughtful is key to making a picture book one that you will want to read again and again. Illustrations for picture books can go well beyond showing what is already revealed in the text. We can add more details and richness and bits of the story through the pictures. Jon Klassen is a master of this.

So, yes it's true that I have only made one good dummy book that I sent out to publishers, but I do have a lot of little sketchbooks that are filled with ideas and drawings and some even have storyboarded dummy book pages. They are not ready to share yet, but they are the springboard. That's where it starts. I am joining all of you on this challenge. I have a work in progress manuscript, several character sketches, line and color tests. Now it's time to really pull it all together, and get it ready to send out into the world. If you're participating in this challenge you already have the passion and the drive to move your story to the next level, so let's take the knowledge and advice from this wonderful group of guest bloggers and get to work! Good luck everyone!

Jami Gigot is the author/illustrator or Mae and the Moon (Ripple Grove Press). She has worked as a digital artist on several films including Pan, Avatar, and currently Tim Burton's Miss. Peregrine's Home for Peculiars. She lives in Vancouver with her husband and two children.

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Follow Jami:

Website: www.jamigigot.com, 
Twitter@jlgigot
Pre-Order Jami's Book: "Mae and the Moon"

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PRIZE

One lucky winner will win a copy of Mae and the Moon. You have to finish your dummy in order to win this prize! 

20 comments:

  1. Jami, this rings a bell because that's my first dummy ever and I have been writing until now, not drawing. I can definitely use the advice to draw the images from a different angle and I have already learned about the rule of thirds, which is an important rule to be learning at this early stage. I also see that you're using circles/curves all over your sample drawings to make the landscapes look more peaceful and the concentration of light on what you want the reader to pay attention to. Did you use other techniques? You mention the importance of the publisher in creating this book. Do you think your publisher helped you transform the book or did you already have most of what you needed and he just suggested minor changes? How long did it take to rework the book? I feel like I don't always know what I'm doing, but I use my intuition. I think having kids we read stories to helps have an idea about how the pictures should look like. Did you tap into your memories too? Thanks.

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    1. Hi Sussu - thanks for your comments. The book transformed quite a lot from where it started. This was due in part to my publisher because they wanted me to write without the rhyme. As I began to rewrite the text, the story changed direction a bit. I was given ultimate control over everything, but my publisher did throw out some thoughts and we would sometimes brainstorm together. It took one year from when I signed the contract, but that's working another full time job and raising two little ones. I started averaging less sleep at night ! :) Intuition is great! I think you need to use your intuition and write and draw from your heart. Thanks again, and good luck!

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  2. Thanks for the peek into your process and congrats on "Mae and the Moon"!

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  3. This book looks gorgeous! Thanks for the insight.

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  4. Many thanks Marla! You're very welcome!

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  5. Jami, I love your ideas! I think that since I am still new the characterization is the most difficult first step for me. I need to really get to know my characters visually. Thanks so much!

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  6. I just love all your artwork. Thank you so much for going into detail with your process. Especially talking about wordless spread. So many people in this competition are working on wordless books. It helps to know how important a picture can be. It also makes the words that are on the pages stronger.

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    1. My pleasure Dani! Thanks for having me :)

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  7. Love your ideas and artwork. Thanks for sharing.

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  8. This was a very helpful post. Invoking greats like Sendak and Klassen really helped drive your points home. Thank you!

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    1. you're welcome Margaret - a pleasure!

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  9. It's a very inspiring interview. I could find myself in different aspects you have mentioned.
    Thanks and congrats on your book!

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  10. It's a very inspiring interview! I could find myself in a few of the aspects you've mentiond.
    Thank you and congrats on your book!

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    1. Thanks Iris, hope the challenge was productive for you!

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  11. Love seeing your process sketches. Mae & the Moon looks delightful!

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  12. I love these dreamy illustrations!

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