Ovi's Book, "Just Like Daddy" is one of those books where many people will say that they should have thought of this book (I know I wish I had). This story very much captures the essence of what it means to be a kids. Ovi has so much wonderful knowledge to share with you today. This knowledge is not only from his picture book work, but also from his extensive work in animation.
Dani: What about animation helps you the most with creating Picture Books?
Ovi: It affects it in a couple of ways, I think.
One of them is speed. You have to get things done “yesterday,” so you don’t really have too much time to sit around and second-guess yourself too much. You have to go with your gut and just get the work done.
The second thing I learned in animation (from doing storyboards, particularly) is to not be too precious about my drawings initially. I draw probably thousands of storyboards on any given film, and you have to be willing to throw away something you just drew in order to draw a better idea. The whole point is to get the film up in storyboards as fast as you can so you can get it wrong as fast you can and change/fix it. If we spent all our time rendering our storyboards so that they look pretty but don’t really tell the best story in the animation reel (rough cut of the film in storyboards), then we just wasted all that time polishing storyboards we now have to throw out and re-draw.
So, to apply that to book-making is great, because I can rough out a book in a day or less and then take a look at it and fix the story structure before I even worry about tones or useless details that will change as the story evolves and gets better. If you spend a lot of time on rendering your sketches or drawings, then you start to become attached to them and it will be harder to toss them out and start over to get a better idea and story across. Remember, story is king. Focus on the story, not the rendering. If the story doesn’t work, the rendering won’t make it better.
I try and focus on the visual story structure, character development, staging, compositions, pacing, and word play — and then add the details and rendering later. If it doesn’t work in a sketch, it won’t work in an illustration. It might look pretty, but there will always be something “wrong” with it. You can’t cover up a story with fancy words the same way you can’t cover up a bad illustration with fancy details.
Dani: How do you approach designing a new character?
Ovi: I usually ask whoever is directing the project or myself if its my own project a few questions about what type of character this is, what are his traits? goals? role in the film? just basic character descriptions and bios.
from there I start to pull all kinds of reference and also pull from my own observations and life. After that I spend a day or so just doing really rough small thumbnails and trying to focus on shapes and how those shapes inform the design as far as emotion and character.
Once I have a basic shape I like I go ahead and flesh that out and then clean it up and add all the details and send that off to the client.
Dani: You have a great career in animation, so what's the draw to creating books?
Ovi: I have always wanted to do books from the beginning and actually landed in animation by accident but learned to really love it as well. So the draw for me to do books is that the end result is my own artwork on the page as opposed to animation which is more of a collaboration with other artists. I enjoy both, but the draw for me in books is that I can write and illustrate my own stories and have my own personal art printed on the page.
There is a real sense of pride and accomplishment doing books, almost like having a fine art piece in a gallery.
Dani: Are there more picture books to come?
Ovi: Yes, I have SO many books on the runway ready to lift off. I just need the right publisher to come along and help them take off. I have one coming out spring 2017 and also a few being shopped around right now.
Dani: Is there a project, in any medium, that you'd love to work on?