Noah Klocek spends his days working as an art director at Pixar Animation Studios, but at night he makes picture books. In these inspirational videos he goes through the story making process behind his new book Cloud Country, starting with the early sketches through to final illustrations.
Making a picture book is a lengthy process. To create the first complete version of Cloud Country took nearly two years, and when Noah finished the final book he was on the fifth version.
Everything started out in a sketchbook, which went from being something he carried around to draw people on the train, to become an irreplaceable part of the writing process. He used it to work out every idea for each spread, and when he got something he liked he'd redraw it at the front of the book. With time this gave him a complete copy of the book, and helped give a sense of how all the spreads were working together as a whole.
A dummy version of the book was then created based on the sketchbook. Often he found there wasn't enough space to fit the text, so he had to go back and redraw the sketches.
The final stage of the process was the color work, and it wasn't until the final version of the book that a color pass was finished for every single illustration. For this Noah laid out a color script, which is a tableau of the thumbnails in color for the whole book. This is a technique from the film industry, allowing you to see how the use of light and color is working throughout the story.
With the color work done digitally, it was a real challenge to maintain the life when moving from the sketches to the computer. Noah dealt with this by always scanning in a final drawing done in pencil. He also used paintings made by his kids as overlays, to bring some natural movement and texture to the illustrations.