Paul Zelinsky talks about technique and technology
For both illustrators and writers when you start a project you are facing a blank screen or canvas. The ideas in your mind are out of focus. The whole point is to find the story and fill in the blank squares. The whole story and illustrated scenes have to fill 32 pages. It also doesn’t hurt to think about page turns. The divisions and places you turn the page is where something happens.
Three repetitions and a change is what create the rhythm and underlying music that has to be in the text. Stories are how we make sense of the world and the illustrator’s job is to turn these stories into images. Figuring a way to portray your story is the challenge. Whatever the ideal image is you want to create, there has to be a way to make it happen. There has to be a best way to do it.
There is magic in the stories and a magic in the illustrations. If the text is lively, Paul might decide to use bright colourful illustrations. He keeps track of every colour and every overlay to produce a quality that is magical.
Rumplestiltskin was his first book and The Wheels of the Bus followed that. The latter is a book with moving parts. Even the typography and letter spacing is important to the whole feel and presentation of the book. All hand drawn and hand assembled, as PCs were not available to do it in the 1990’s. He faxed illustrations to a paper engineer, who would Fed-ex a working model from Mexico to US.
Five Children and It he used his own children and some child models to get the positioning correct. He took photos of the children with a digital camera and put the pictures together in Photoshop. He used the Photoshop enhanced pictures, to draw his own illustrations with the children in the right position. He keeps many versions of his illustrations on PC but it is not until he prints it out that he can tell which is better and which is worse.
Knick-knack Paddywhack was Paul’s second moving parts book. To create this book he used PC animations. But the books are still put together by hand in China.It is the combinations of words that help him to form the images. He does not know what is going to happen. It is like doodling.
This was especially true in the book Doodler Doodling. The original title of the manuscript was People Doing Things but, it was changed to Doodler Doodling, as a result of the way his illustrations emerged.
Paul thought the book was going to be easy because he was using Photoshop technology but it became very complicated. He produced many layers and colours and massive gigabytes files.Even so, Paul has found Photoshop a boom with his illustrations. He is now able to scan in and print out his illustrations to practice on and make things bigger or smaller and adjust pictures to fit the page and format of a specific book. He makes templates from the printout. Also the Internet is useful for illustration research. However, when his printer broke down he had to go digital rather than analogue, which he felt was not so good.
He finds artistic techniques simply appear and technical solutions can be used to solve problems. He has even used some of his illustrations to make animations from the book The Shivers in the Fridge using an animation program.