BLOBS #100 Aaron Zenz RESULTS

Guest Artist: Author Illustrator Aaron Zenz

Kid Character Creators: Lily Zenz (age 14), Elijah Zenz (age 11), Evie Zenz (age 9) 

 I met Aaron during a December book signing at  The Bookman  bookstore.

I met Aaron during a December book signing at The Bookman bookstore.

Welcome to Results Day!

We have been celebrating West Michigan children's book Author Illustrator Aaron Zenz all week! He has illustrated 33 children's books and 9 are picture books he has written & illustrated. They include I Love Ewe:An Ode to Animal Moms, Chuckling Ducklings and Baby Animal Friends, Monsters Go Night-Night, The Hiccupotamus along with many, many more. We enjoyed learning more about Aaron from his father daughter clip titled 6 Questions in 6 minutes for Claire's Day to the ArtPrize installation "Rock Around" he made with his kids. Aaron's work is wildly fun and full of energy.  He has been a joy to feature (he also has 12 bookcases filled with nearly 5,000 picture books!). We are grateful for his highly creative contribution here which includes an interview at the very end.

In addition to Aaron's designs, his kids Lily, Elijah & Evie created characters for us as well. Thank you kids!

And here we go...first a look at the before and after shapes...

                                                                                                        CHARACTER DESIGNS by AARON ZENZ

                                                                                                       CHARACTER DESIGNS by AARON ZENZ

now zooming in...

shape-1_aaronzenz_NOARROW.jpg

Amazing, right? Now for the equally amazing Zenz kids...

Great job Team Z! We love them all!

Interview

Who was your favorite book character as a child and why?

When I was a kid, my favorite books were Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain. I lived in those books, breathed them, dreamed them, started writing like them. I don't know if I had a favorite character, but I loved Taran, Fflewddur Fflam, and Llonio in particular. And you've got to love Gurgi.

Which character in your books was the most fun bringing to life and why?

In my book Monsters Go Night-Night, all seven monster characters were based on drawings my son Elijah had made when he was 4 and 5 years old. It was great fun to use his drawings as a starting place and to put my own spin on them.

Where do you find the most inspiration for your characters?

When designing the look of a character, I do a lot of research, observation, and doodling. When I got the assignment to illustrate a series of books about a little Bichon Frise puppy, my first step was to spend an entire day at the library with a tower of Bichon books. I made hundreds of little drawings, dog after dog, pose after pose, trying to figure out what exactly makes a Bichon "Bichon-y."

                                                                     I Can Read!   Howie Series  by Sara Henderson

                                                                   I Can Read! Howie Series by Sara Henderson

When I set out to illustrate a book about orangutans, I spent days google-image-searching orangutans, analyzing how God put them together, trying to figure out how to simplify the forms.

                                                                    Orangutangled  by   Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen  

                                                                  Orangutangled by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen 

Which BLOB inspired you the most and why?

I loved the one that turned into the screaming opossum :) Of my four blob-doodles, it has the most extreme expression and I like that -- I like how the shape pushed me further than I might have normally gone.

                Thank you Aaron, Lily, Elijah & Evie for being our special 100th Post Guests!

Blobs #100

The Blob Blog has reached a milestone!

Since its launch in 2014, this blog has birthed 400+ characters! Some have even inspired my very own picture book dummies. Not only have we (my kids and I) introduced new characters to this world, but I have asked wonderful artists I have met on this journey to join me as Guests. They have been kind enough to share their talents here too so kids can see that Blobs are not about finding the right answer, but discovering your very own.

To celebrate our #100 batch, we have a spectacular Michigan Author Illustrator visiting this week. He has illustrated 33 children's books and 9 are picture books he has written as well. Check back on Friday for his character designs + interview or find out via Facebook and Twitter where I'll be sharing my very favorite links of his work this week. His brilliant kids have had a hand in some of it as well...

Below are the Blobs he will be creating characters with. Please join him and post your own throughout the week using #theblobblog100 on Twitter or Facebook!

BLOBS #99 RESULTS

Welcome to Results Day! I hope you had fun creating characters this week. If you ever get stuck you can always turn your design into a....Blob! Add a nose, eyes, ears or hair, a silly expression, and you're done! Creating characters should always be fun. Here's an example...

                                                     Shape turns into a BLOB!

                                                    Shape turns into a BLOB!

The theme for my characters this week was...dancing! I LOVE to dance...and when I got stuck on my character designs I had to think of a fun activity to avoid frustration. I decided to picture my characters at a dance party where some of them liked to dance, and some did not. Who can YOU relate to? Here they are...

                            PEACOCK LOVES TO DANCE

                           PEACOCK LOVES TO DANCE

 ELEPHANT WANTS TO DANCE BUT IS NOT SURE HOW

ELEPHANT WANTS TO DANCE BUT IS NOT SURE HOW

                       POODLE WILL NOT DANCE

                      POODLE WILL NOT DANCE

 PENGUIN GETS HURT WHEN HE DANCES

PENGUIN GETS HURT WHEN HE DANCES

Since ELEPHANT and PEACOCK were the more succesful dancers I decided to pair them up. I needed to study peacocks a bit more first...

peacock2_STUDIESFLAT.jpg

This also gave me an opportunity to experiment with different brushes!

Next, I positioned my characters. ELEPHANT got flipped and I finished PEACOCK's stance. I didn't have his full body in my initial character sketches because the shapes were too close together.

Here they are with no shadows...

and once I started to think about backgrounds and dance parties, I wondered if a studio might be best? Maybe PEACOCK was a dance instructor? I liked the idea of playing with a Dance Steps posters in the background. Here's a super quick study...

                                                 Colors were adjusted in PS

                                                Colors were adjusted in PS

Maybe there's a dance party in their future. Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check in next week for a big giant #100 Celebration of Blobs! We have an extraordinary Guest Artist lined up! See you then.

BLOBS #98 RESULTS

Results are ready! Sketches only this week...getting ready for a school visit and Writers Conference!

           What is a DOUBLE-FINNED SHARK to do?

          What is a DOUBLE-FINNED SHARK to do?

                            HAPPY ANTEATER

                           HAPPY ANTEATER

The third Blob gave me a pretty tough time! I had to spin it around and around and around what seemed like forever. I wondered if I could connect it to my neighboring shape. So, I tried...

and got this guy.

                                          GIRAFFE TRIES YOGA

                                         GIRAFFE TRIES YOGA

Now, Giraffe is clearly off anatomically. Its a bit of a stretch : ) But, it's an idea, right? And that's what Blobs are for. Setting off story sparks. A design/color round would correct him a bit and maybe have other zoo animals join in? Once I created him I started doing something else and when I looked at my sheet again it was rotated. Another character emerged...it looked like a bird creature of some sort driving a convertible? Can you see it?

I liked the idea of that shape becoming a car, so dug a little more. I was stuck on my animal though! What is it? A bird wasn't working, then he started morphing in to a panther...but that just doesn't make sense too. Maybe YOU can figure it out! Let me know if you do!

                                                              Thanks for stopping by!

BLOBS #97 RESULTS

Happy Friday! It is Results Day. What characters did you create? Find mine below...

                              BEAR COMES WITH THE CHAIR (he's a smaller bear...)

                             BEAR COMES WITH THE CHAIR (he's a smaller bear...)

 THE TUSK FAIRY takes over on The Tooth Fairy's Day Off

THE TUSK FAIRY takes over on The Tooth Fairy's Day Off

           DINOSAUR WANTS TO TAKE A BATH

          DINOSAUR WANTS TO TAKE A BATH

                           FOUND MITTEN

                          FOUND MITTEN

I decided to color up my DINOSAUR. I pictured him loving baths so much no one else could use the bathroom. He was a bathroom hog. Here's how my original shape kicked things off...

When I first created him in the tub, I drew a panicked look on his face. Like someone was intruding on his tub time because he was taking so long. But then I decided the bathroom is - HIS time. He can't hear the pounding on the door because he's experiencing maximum relaxation. Along with his favorite ducky, Ducky. Maybe that's how lengthy tub times started? Here's the finished color study...

Thanks for stopping by! Have a luxurious weekend...

BLOBS #96 RESULTS

Welcome to Results Day! Blobs were inspired by Valentine's Day this week, which could only mean one thing. Characters were filled with LOVE.

Here's a before and after of the Activity sheet...

 

Now a closer look...

                                                CUPID POWER

                                               CUPID POWER

                                            DEER

                                           DEER

                     WHO DOES DUCK LOVE?

                    WHO DOES DUCK LOVE?

                    HOPEFUL BUTTERFLY?

                   HOPEFUL BUTTERFLY?

I liked the idea of DUCK being in love. And had a sweet little balloon for that special someone. But, who was it? DEER? or BUTTERFLY? DUCK needed a companion so I decided to color him up.

First I did some duck studies...

I discovered the Australian Wood Duck in my research. They are a little different than the typical duck because of their shorter bill.

I changed my DUCK's mouth from the original shape to make him more recognizable.  I also thought about adding a background...

but decided it was taking away from BUTTERFLY and the flowers in the end so took it out. Here's what I ended up with! BALLOON FOR BUTTERFLY!

duck-colored3USEUSE.jpg

 

Thanks for stopping by!