Swamped. That's how I'm defining my last 2 months, and from the looks of things, I'll be doing the same until at least March. I've just recently wrapped up the Alberta Winter Games comic (so expect a post on that...well at some point), and I'm now working on a couple picture books, one of which I've also written. A few months ago, I was contacted by Chirp Magazine and asked if I could write and illustrate a short story for their Neighbours issue (for this November). Of course I agreed. I've always loved Owl magazines and Chirp is actually something my kids already had a subscription to and just love! It was pretty wide open for me as far as the story went. They basically just asked for a rural themed neighbourhood/community short (they had seen my Gophers in Farmer Burrows' Field book). That was right up my alley.
So I started brainstorming. Immediately I came to the idea of Chickens. I don't know why, but birds strike me as very community orientated creatures, and I think that friends of ours recently started raising them probably had an influence on me.
After knocking a few ideas around, I started thinking about how many birds migrate, and chickens don't. I asked "why don't they?", and right then had my story. It was called, The Great Chicken Migration (or why chickens no longer migrate). Basically a tale of the grass always being greener on the other side, until you realize that the reason it's so green is because of all the "manure" that had been used to make it so...
Anyway, after the editor at Chirp (who was great to work with) agreed and we figured out the final story and script, it was the art work time. (I'd show you the text process if there was actually something to show). As with all my work, my roughs are pretty rough. I just scribble basic positions that I want. Because I only had a total of 4 pages (two spreads) to work with I knew this would be tricky. I wanted to do a nice splash page for the first one, and then spots for the rest that the text could flow around.
I send those off to see if I'm close to what they think would work and thankfully they had great vision and understood my scribbles. Next I do more polished pencil work (which is still digital I may add - it's just faster), and then I do the final colors. Here are a couple examples of the first two pages from roughs to final: