About two years ago, I started to work on an illustration project, which became the children’s pop-up book, The Adventures of Apun the Arctic Fox. The book is coming out next week, so I’m excited to share more about my adventures with Apun.
Liz O’Connell, project director and writer; and Susan Joy Share, pop-up engineer and art consultant, had been working on the book for quite a while before I joined the team. The idea was to create a pop up book about the arctic and the arctic food chain. The book centers on the main character, Apun, a hungry arctic fox, who pops her head out of her burrow in April to find some food.
I started with character sketches of Apun and some of the other animals. At one point there were narwhals involved. This was my first time illustrating a children’s book, and it was interesting to draw the same character over and over again. Here are some of my first studies. Some of them have strange shapes because they are earlier prototypes for possible pop ups.
They got better the more I worked at it. I also had to work on making them accurate but expressive, enlarging the eyes and facial features. By now I’ve got stacks of little arctic fox drawings in about every position imaginable. I’ve probably drawn an arctic fox a hundred times. Here are some of the sketches:
For the book I made drawings with graphite that I scanned and colored in using Photoshop. I spent lots of time with my wacom tablet this winter.
After getting the sketches right, I had to adjust the whole color scheme, to make the landscapes more vibrant and less pastel. It was a bit of a challenge for me to do this at first, but I do love snowy landscapes and I think they can be the perfect canvas for all sorts of imaginative color schemes. Snow and ice are white, but that really means they can be any color.
A fun part of this project was getting input from the Anchorage Museum, one of the supporters of the project. They hosted a number of events to test the book on real audiences and to get input. One event I went to was the Story Lab where the book was read and projected in their dome planetarium.
The text and the pop up designs changed and evolved, as my illustrations changed. The pop ups were a particularly fun challenge to figure out how to illustrate. It helped to go to Anchorage and work on them in the 3-D form. There were many e-mails with templates and notes about where to fold and where to glue things. What shapes the tabs would be and if they needed to be illustrated or not. In the end, the book has four pop up page spreads. Maybe you can guess which pages have pop ups from the illustrations below:
Current Arctic science behind some of the scenes in the book is described by scientists in videos found on Frontier Scientists' website. More information about BOEM's Environmental Studies Program in Alaska and the University of Alaska Coastal Marine Institute.
Additional support from WonderU and UIC Science. The Adventures of Apun the Arctic Fox (c) Wonder U