Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My big project for Highlights: Which Way USA

Since last year, I've been continuously working on a series of books for Boyd Mills / Highlights for Children and finally wanted to give a scoop about it.

The project is called Which Way USA and is a series of puzzle books about the 50 States. I have signed up to do at least 8 of these books, three of which are already done (Illinois, Ohio and Hawaii). Other states will be done by other artists.

The way they're set up is that 4 teams of characters are racing through these states, solving puzzles and exploring the particular State, little bit like the Amazing Race.

A What's Wrong® picture, at the Honolulu Zoo. Can you spot the silly things?
The protagonists, Tripp and Scout, are based on photographic reference. The competing teams have been created by me, based on directions from Highlights.

It's a complex project because it includes not only researching and visualizing locations but also creating mazes, hidden pictures and other visual riddles and games. But I enjoy creating atmospheres and backgrounds, and I can bring a lot of my humor into the books.
I enjoy coming up with funny characters and silly situations.

Luckily my brain can manage to come up with these riddles and puzzles. I was told that I have "a puzzler's brain".

Since the content is sometimes complicated, and the schedule is pretty tight, I chose to keep the drawings light and use a simple line with flat computer coloring. The resulting images are very much "me", which is very satisfying.

The books can be ordered like in a book club. You get the first one free, and if you like it, you can subscribe to more.

It's an interesting experience to be part of such a big undertaking. It certainly provides great stability, and I still can do some freelance projects, though I do have to be economic with my time.

All of this wouldn't be possible if it wasn't for Creative Director Robbin Gourley who suggested me for this project, and my art director Michele Weisman who is coordinating all 50 books, so thanks again for making me part of the Highlights family!

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