Steven Salerno

"Ghosts from Our Past" -illustration project for companion book associated with the new 2016 Ghostbusters™ movie

This past winter (in February 2016) I received a very interesting book project offer from Penguin/Random House editor Elizabeth Rendfleisch… and because I had already illustrated several picture books for Random House, I initially thought Elizabeth’s offer was going to be to illustrate another picture book for kids. 



Sidebar: Over my long illustration career I’ve illustrated many books: cookbooks, novel covers, travel books, etc… and to date, I’ve also illustrated 24 popular picture books for kids, with 5 more picture book titles being released over the next three years.

(see a list of my published picture books)


However, it turned out that her project offer was for illustrating an adult fiction title, Ghosts from Our Past -the tongue-in-cheek guide to paranormal activity. This book would be published quickly, for release in July 2016 in direct association with the much anticipated summer blockbuster SONY Pictures movie, Ghostbusters. (Ghostbustersâ„¢ & Â© 2016 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.) 

cover of Ghosts from Our Past (2016 Three Rivers Press/ Penguin Random House)



Ghosts from Our Past was written as if penned by two main characters from the movie, paranormal activity researchers Erin Gilbert (played by Kristen Wiig) and Abby L. Yates (played by Melissa McCarthy). 

"Ghosts from Our Past" -illustration project for companion book associated with the new 2016 Ghostbustersâ„¢ movie
(ghost) drawing by Steven Salerno for book, Ghosts from Our Past
"Ghosts from Our Past" -illustration project for companion book associated with the new 2016 Ghostbustersâ„¢ movie
(hedgehog) drawing by Steven Salerno for book, Ghosts from Our Past

And so Elizabeth explained to me that the final illustrations for this book needed to be created in a manner as if they were actual sketches drawn by these fictional authors. This was a fun twist… plus, how could I turn down a project where I get to draw ghosts and monsters and it’s associated with a famous film franchise? 

Of course I accepted the project! But the deadline was tight. (I’d have to complete all 30 of the required illustrations in about a month.)

I asked Elizabeth how she came to seek me out for this project, and she explained she had liked my sci-fi character sketches portfolio section on my illustration web site, and knew I’d be perfect for the Ghosts from Our Past project. (note: my sci-fi character sketches are a collection of my doodles where I invent alien creatures, all just for my own amusement.)
"Ghosts from Our Past" -illustration project for companion book associated with the new 2016 Ghostbustersâ„¢ movie
RAVEN drawing by Steven Salerno for book, Ghosts from Our Past
"Ghosts from Our Past" -illustration project for companion book associated with the new 2016 Ghostbustersâ„¢ movie
HORSE drawing by Steven Salerno for book, Ghosts from Our Past
"Ghosts from Our Past" -illustration project for companion book associated with the new 2016 Ghostbustersâ„¢ movie
ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE drawing by Steven Salerno for book, Ghosts from Our Past


The essential requirements for the 30 illustrations needed for Ghosts from our Past was they needed to be rendered in black & white and must look like sketches. Now, with any illustration project I do, whether it be for advertising, or editorial, or publishing, my normal process is to first create the preliminary sketches, which are approved by the editor or design director, then I proceed with creating the final illustrations. However with this particular project my preliminary sketches (once approved) would be used as the final art for the book! In other words, the drawings purposely had to look a bit rough and unrefined, like a sketch. Skipping the normal “final art” rendering stage is what allowed me to meet their tight deadline!

PROCESS
I created the originals by simply drawing directly on paper -with pencil, crayon, or ink… then scanned all the drawings into Photoshop where with some of the drawings (on a separate layer) I created a digital gray wash, simulating a gray watercolor or diluted ink wash effect. 
"Ghosts from Our Past" -illustration project for companion book associated with the new 2016 Ghostbustersâ„¢ movie
MANTIS drawing by Steven Salerno for book, Ghosts from Our Past
"Ghosts from Our Past" -illustration project for companion book associated with the new 2016 Ghostbustersâ„¢ movie
RACCOON drawing by Steven Salerno for book, Ghosts from Our Past
Posted above are 7 (of the thirty illustrations) I created for the book. For purposes of this web post, I dropped the B&W drawings onto a buff colored background, just for better contrast against the bright white screen background.
This was a fun project for sure. And once I finished it I was immediately right back working on my other children’s books projects… Ultimately, because I was offered this project due to the editor seeing my sci-fi character sketches portfolio, I may begin exploring other assignments related to my alien creature imaginings.


Visit stevensalerno.com to view all my portfolio sections, as well as many of my picture books for kids.

Arnold Palmer, the golf King forever…

A tribute to Arnold Palmer (1929-2016) 
Posted here are two drawings I had created in the past of golfing great Arnold Palmer, who passed away this week at age 87. 
Because of my lifelong love for the game of golf, back in 2010 I launched a separate web site dedicated just to my many golf art drawings and paintings and limited edition prints, sasgolf.com. Arnold Palmer has always been one of my golf heroes, and I’ve been a huge fan all my life, especially after meeting him in person when I was 14 years old back in 1972. (my older brother had attended the Arnold Palmer Golf Academy at Stratton Mountain in southern Vermont that summer, and my father and I were invited to the opening day ceremonies where Arnie gave a clinic on the range and also played an exhibition round. It was a thrill to shake his hand and get an autograph, which I have to this day)
In both these drawings I depicted Mr. Palmer in his very recognizable and distinctive putting stance.They were created with crayon, pastel, gouache and digital color. These two particular images are no longer available as limited edition prints, but there are many other golf fine art archival prints available for purchase at sasgolf.com
above â€œArnie†by Steven Salerno
Arnold Palmer, the golf King forever...
above “The King†by Steven Salerno
To view my illustration portfolios for advertising, editorial, packaging, etc… including my many children’s books, visit stevensalerno.com

Sunday NY Times, recent illustration cover assignment (Real Estate section)

Posted here is a look at a recent illustration assignment I did for The New York Times, appearing on their REAL ESTATE section cover on Sunday 9/11/2016. 
detail of illustration for NY Times, Real Estate section
It was for an article on new apps that helps determine precisely which of NYC’s 288 various neighborhoods would make the best fit for you, based on your preferences and needs when moving to the city. The article was info-heavy, so as a visual counter balance I created the five boroughs as fun puzzle-shapes, and to reflect that these apps helps one determine which neighborhood in which borough would be the best fit. Then I added in various vignettes icons that echo the many points made in the article about client’s needs. 
Sunday NY Times, recent illustration cover assignment (Real Estate section)
detail of illustration for NY Times, Real Estate section
It was created with a gouache painted texture that I layered into Photoshop for the background, then all the puzzle shapes and black & white vignette icons were all drawn digitally, including the lettering of the neighborhood names. All these elements were on separate layers so I could easily adjust all the elements within the composition.
Sunday NY Times, recent illustration cover assignment (Real Estate section)
full illustration for NY Times, Real Estate section
I started out as an illustrator in 1980, and one of my first clients was The NY Times… and I have created illustration work for them every year since. 36 years! 
Sunday NY Times, recent illustration cover assignment (Real Estate section)
detail of illustration for NY Times web site, Real Estate section
Posted here are some detail views of the finished illustration, the full view, and also a shot detail from the nytimes.com posting of the article and illustration. I actually have yet to see the printed Sunday Times with the illustration on the Real Estate section cover. 
For the past few years I have been doing illustrations in a much more realistic style manner… but for this assignment, due to the required light approach, I slipped back into my earlier more whimsical style mode, which you can still see samples of in the editorial and advertising portfolio sections on my web site, stevensalerno.com Take a look!

…more sci-fi creature designs

As an illustrator, I am so busy with my children’s picture book assignments… I had two more picture books released in 2015, and two more released in 2016, with four more picture books slated for release in the next couple years as well. To date I think I’ve had about 25 picture books published. They are challenging and satisfying… (visit stevensalerno.com to view some of my many picture books for kids)


But I still have time to doodle and create art images for my own, some of which are alien creature sketches. I enjoy imagining what a creature from another world might look like, and have created so many fanciful creature designs that I made a separate portfolio section on my illustration web site just to show them, even though they are not at all connected to any illustration assignments I do for my clients in magazines, advertising and publishing -that is until earlier this year…

visit stevensalerno.com to view his sci-fi creature sketches

...more sci-fi creature designs
visit stevensalerno.com to view his sci-fi creature sketches

...more sci-fi creature designs
visit stevensalerno.com to view his sci-fi creature sketches



Back in January I was contacted by a publisher who was creating a book for a major motion picture company’s new sci-fi film -to be released this year. (The reason why I am not giving names as to the publisher, the movie studio, or the name of the sci-fi film, is because I signed a confidentiality agreement. So right now I cannot divulge that info.)

Their project would require creating illustrations as if they were sketches drawn by a character from the film… Somehow the art director at the publishing house saw my “sci-fi” creature sketches on my illustration web site, and subsequently showed them to the people at the movie studio, and based on my creature designs I was offered the project of illustrating their book, which is a companion book to their movie. 


The images posted here are NOT from the soon-to-be-released book… just examples of some of the many creatures I have created. Lesson? Build it and they will come!


Visit stevensalerno.com to see his illustration portfolios and many picture books for kids.



"Puppy Princess" -a new picture book title from Little Golden Books/Random House

…posted here is my cover illustration for the new picture book title, Puppy Princess -written by Sue Fliess & illustrated by Steven Salerno. (publication release date: July 2016, Little Golden Books/Random House

cover of Puppy Princess -Little Golden Books- illustrated by Steven Salerno
Puppy Princess was my 24th illustrated picture book to date, with three more picture books slated for release in 2017 and 2018. 
When editor Diane Muldrow at Random House offered me this project, I jumped at the chance to illustrate the charming Sue Fliess story for very young readers and to become a part of the “A Little Golden Book†legacy. The illustrations for the book were created with crayon, charcoal, gouache with added digital composing and coloring. Even though the text does not describe the breed of the puppy in the story, when I first received the manuscript the author had noted that the puppy was a King Charles Spaniel, so that is how I depicted the puppy. (And it seems that there are many, many King Charles Spaniels where I live in Manhattan, so every time I was out for a walk I could always see one as additional visual reference in conjunction with the photo reference I had complied during my preliminary sketch stage.)
FYI: Little Golden Books were first published by Simon & Schuster in 1942 (they opened with the simultaneous publication of 12 titles) and since then have published over 200 additional Little Golden Book titles, which have been owned and produced by Random House since 2001. Within those first 12 titles published back in 1942 was the popular book The Poky Little Puppy -which was so popular in fact, that it went on to sell over 15 million copies to date, making it one of the, if not not highest selling individual picture book in history. So needless to say, I am hoping that Puppy Princess will have some of that very same puppy success!
Visit stevensalerno.com to see my many other picture books for kids, as well as my illustration portfolios for advertising, editorial, packaging, etc…

The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process

This posting today is highlighting the sketch and illustration process for the 2016 picture book, The Kid from Diamond Street.

But first, a bit of backstory info…
Back in 2012 the wonderful picture book Brothers at Bat was released by publisher Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) -written by Audrey Vernick. At the time it was my 19th illustrated picture book… It proved to be a very popular picture book (I think thus far it has sold nearly 60,000 hardcover copies), and was named a Notable Picture Book of 2012 by the New York Times Book Review -as well as being a Junior Library Guild Selection for Spring 2012. It also won the prestigious California Young Reader Medal in Picture Books in 2015. See an earlier post on the making of the illustrations for Brothers at Bat.

Since 2012 I have illustrated seven more picture books:
2013- Boom! 
(Disney/Hyperion Books, written by Mary Lyn Ray)

2015- The Fantastic Ferris Wheel 
(Christy Ottaviano Books, written by Betsy Harvey Kraft) 

2015- Wild Child 
(Abrams Books for Young Readers, written by Steven Salerno)

2016- The Kid from Diamond Street 
(Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, written by Audrey Vernick)

2016- Puppy Princess 
(Little Golden Books/Random House, written by Sue Fliess)

2017- Goldenlocks and the Three Pirates 
(Farrar Straus & Giroux, written by April Jones Prince)

2018- Tim’s Goodbye 
(Farrar Straus & Giroux, written by Steven Salerno)

This posting today is highlighting the sketch and illustration process for the 2016 picture book, The Kid from Diamond Street, written by Audrey Vernick, which was released back in April 2016. Our author-illustrator collaboration on her previous baseball-themed true life picture book, Brothers at Bat in 2012 was such a success that our savvy and talented editor Jennifer Greene (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) wanted to team up Audrey and I again, especially since “The Kid” was another true life baseball story. We are hoping The Kid from Diamond Street will be an even bigger home run hit than the 2012 Brothers at Bat!


cover, The Kid from Diamond Street


The Kid from Diamond Street is the true story of Philadelphia girl Edith Houghton, who back in 1922 at the tender age of ten became a professional baseball player for the Philadelphia Bobbies in the all-female professional baseball league. Then in 1925, at age thirteen, Edith was a star player on the all-female American baseball team that toured Japan, competing against their all-male baseball teams.Illustrating the story was a terrifc opportunity to create images engaged in the look and feel of the roaring ’20’s time period. 


It was fun to create scenes with the style automobiles, trains, and ocean liners of that era, including the “flapper” style dresses, and of course the baggy baseball uniforms of the day. Not to mention depicting “old fashioned” typewriters, cameras, etc… 


The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
a rough preliminary sketch, The Kid from Diamond Street

The Kid from Diamond Street was the third historical non-fiction true story picture book I have illustrated and they are such appealing projects that currently I am working on the sketches for yet another true story picture book for Penguin/Random House slated for a fall 2017 release.


SIDE BAR

In case you are not aware of how the illustration process works with picture books, here it is in a nutshell: 

The editor at a publishing house acquires a story they want to publish, and they decide who they think might be the perfect illustrator. The author is rarely in on the selection of the illustrator. The editor and art director use their own judgement and experience in matching the style and feel of the story with the right illustrator. In the case of The Kid from Diamond Street the publisher contacted me and asked if I was interested in the project. I said yes, and once the contract was finalized, we began the long process of creating the illustrations, which is usually about 18 months prior to the slated release date for the book. (Generally about 6 months time for the artist to crate the illustrations and then another 12 months for the book to be in design production and then at the printers…)

As the illustrator I’m totally left alone to decide on how to illustrate the story, and commence with the lengthy sketch process. The editor, the art director, and the designer have no initial input on the sketches. The author and illustrator do not meet nor collaborate regarding the images. Once I completed my sketches (several months in the case of The Kid from Diamond Streetto a mature point where I felt they were ready to be shown, I made a formal sketch presentation in person to the editor, art director and designer. (note: I live in NYC, so I have the luxury of being able to make my sketch presentations in person, as many of the top publishing houses are located here in NYC.) At the sketch presentation is where I get highly detailed feedback on how well I have proposed to illustrate the story from the editor, art director and designer, who are all experts in such evaluation -based on their combined experience creating picture books. 

For the most part I generally hit the mark quite closely with my presentation sketches, but there are always suggestions for changes and alterations to the sketches which may improve the final illustrations, which I take very seriously and evaluate as to which suggestions I will incorporate to make changes to the sketches. It is a bit of back and forth tug-of-war at times, but in the end I feel we compromise intelligently and the final resulting illustrated book is the best it can be.
………………..

My initial tactic in creating the illustrations for any picture book (of course after the contract is negotiated) is to jump right in while reading the story manuscript that the editor sends over -by doodling miniature sketches directly into the margins of the manuscript while I read it…

Shown below are eight views of these miniature doodle sketches that I draw into the manuscript as I read. They are literally just a couple inches in size…

The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
manuscript margin doodle, The Kid from Diamond Street

The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
manuscript margin doodle, The Kid from Diamond Street

The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
manuscript margin doodle, The Kid from Diamond Street

The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
manuscript margin doodle, The Kid from Diamond Street

The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
manuscript margin doodle, The Kid from Diamond Street

The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
manuscript margin doodle, The Kid from Diamond Street

The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
manuscript margin doodle, The Kid from Diamond Street

The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
manuscript margin doodle, The Kid from Diamond Street
The whole point of creating these miniature sketch doodles (above), which are nothing more than a kind of quick visual shorthand, is to rely on my initial gut instinct about how to approach illustrating the story. I create many, many of these little tiny sketches, getting closer and closer to figuring out how I will indeed approach composing the illustrations… Because they are so tiny I can get to the essence of the intended illustration -without wasting time rendering any details at all. These tiny doodle sketches are for my eyes only, being much too rough and premature for showing to the editor or art director anyway. However they are the very important image genesis which leads to the start of the more formal sketch stage.

After formulating a general idea (with the tiny doodle sketches) as to what all the illustrations will consist of in terms of which actions are to be depicted from the text, how the illustration will be composed to accommodate the text, page turns, etc… the next stage is to then begin creating somewhat larger (about 5″x7″ or sometimes 8″x10″) more detailed rough sketches using the earlier tiny doodles as the visual springboard…

Below are two sketches the first very rough, and the second a much more evolved, refined version where I am developing the more mature and hopefully final composition for the planned illustration. (The sketches are ink, pencil, and crayon on paper) 

The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
early rough sketch -draft 1, The Kid from Diamond Street

The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
refined sketch, The Kid from Diamond Street

In this scene the American women’s baseball team in 1925 is traveling via steam ship across the Pacific Ocean to Japan, and one of Edith’s teammates has joined the ballroom orchestra and is standing on a chair playing violin. While Edith, feeling sea sick, is sitting on the edge of the stage turning green.

The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
refined sketch -draft  2, The Kid from Diamond Street

Above is the further developed sketch with tones added, and expanded to become a double page spread. This is a spread scene, and you can see that I have composed an area in the top right side where the story text will be positioned.

The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
refined sketch with dummy text, The Kid from Diamond Street

Above is the same sketch with the dummy text blocked in, to make sure that I have indeed allowed enough space for it. You can see that the darkened curtain area on the left side above the character’s heads will also accommodate reversed-white text, too.
The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
final sketch, The Kid from Diamond Street

The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process


Above is the modified final sketch and just below the sketch is a detail view of the final illustration vignette. Here I had decided to eliminate the full spread scene of the ballroom dancers on the right page side, to be able to add in a vignette of Edith teaching one of the cruise passengers to dance the latest 1925 dance craze, the “Charleston.” This little descriptive dance lesson gem within the story was too evocative and fun to pass up illustrating. This is the version sketch I considered final and ultimately was shown to the editor and art director and designer at the publishing house along with all the other final sketches.

Posted below are views of some of the preliminary sketches and their corresponding final sketches, which were then presented to the publisher. The preliminary sketches are pencil, crayon and ink. The final sketches are also created with pencil, crayon and ink, but are then scanned into Photoshop and have additional washes of tones added digitally. 

The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
preliminary sketch, The Kid from Diamond Street
The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
final sketch, The Kid from Diamond Street

The above two sketches are the scene where we first meet baby Edith in the arms of her mother, surrounded by her nine other siblings, plus on the right side are three separate vignettes of Edith at age 3, 6, and 9…

The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
preliminary sketch, The Kid from Diamond Street
The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
final sketch, The Kid from Diamond Street

The above two sketches are the scene where Edith first tries out for the Philadelphia Bobbies all-female professional baseball team in 1922… Eventually though, in the final illustration, the many tiny faint vignettes of the various players were deleted, leaving just the three larger vignettes of Edith fielding and hitting…

The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
preliminary sketch, The Kid from Diamond Street
The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
final sketch, The Kid from Diamond Street

The above two sketches are the scene where Edith is playing in a home game (she is at bat) and her parents are in the stands watching her. There is also a newspaper man in the stands clacking away on his typewriter on his lap (which as you can see he was not in the preliminary sketch version). 

The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
preliminary sketch, The Kid from Diamond Street
The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
final sketch, The Kid from Diamond Street
The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
final illustration, The Kid from Diamond Street



The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
detail of final illustration, The Kid from Diamond Street

The above two b&w sketches and the accompanying two views of the final color illustration are the scene where Edith is about to take her big travel adventure to Japan. She is ready with her bags, and behind her we see the intended path of her great journey: 12 days by train from Philadelphia to the west coast, then 13 days more by steam ship across the Pacific to Yokohama, Japan. 25 days halfway across the globe was a huge adventure for anyone at the time, especially for a thirteen year old girl! In the detail view of the final illustration you can see the texture of the painted gouache background which I compose into the final illustration via Photoshop layers.

The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
detail of preliminary sketch, The Kid from Diamond Street
The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
preliminary sketch, The Kid from Diamond Street
The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
final sketch with dummy text, The Kid from Diamond Street

The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
final illustration, The Kid from Diamond Street
The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
detail final illustration, The Kid from Diamond Street
The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
detail final illustration, The Kid from Diamond Street

The above three b&w sketches and the accompanying three views of the final color illustration are the scene where Edith and the American all-female baseball team have arrived in Japan, and are taking rickshaws through the streets to their hotel. Japan in 1925 had some people wearing traditional clothing and hairstyles and others in western suits and flapper style dresses of the day…. a clash of east meets west. The American team really did ride rickshaws from the cruise ship to their hotel, and in my research I found a blurry news photo from the day. That’s why I also have a man with a film camera in the street watching the American team ride past him. So in order to create a plausible period illustration of the event I had to research the style of rickshaw of that time as well as the style of uniform the rickshaw pullers wore then, too. Not to mention the 1925 style automobile and the design of the license plate on the auto, the Japanese shop signs, etc…

The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
preliminary sketch, The Kid from Diamond Street
The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
final sketch, The Kid from Diamond Street
The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
final illustration, The Kid from Diamond Street
The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
detail of final illustration, The Kid from Diamond Street
The above two b&w sketches and the accompanying two views of the final color illustration are the scene where Edith is at bat in the very first game in Japan, with the all-female American team competed against all-male Japanese teams. The American women won more games than they lost. Edith was the star short-stop and she was only 13 years old! In the detail view of the final illustration you can see the texture of the painted gouache background which I compose into the final illustration via Photoshop layers.

Below are a number of sketch details and sketch components which all went into comprising the various final sketches…


The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
sketch element, The Kid from Diamond Street
The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
sketch element, The Kid from Diamond Street
The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
sketch element, The Kid from Diamond Street

The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
sketch element, The Kid from Diamond Street

The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
sketch element, The Kid from Diamond Street

The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
scene sketch, The Kid from Diamond Street

The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
sketch element, The Kid from Diamond Street
The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
sketch element, The Kid from Diamond Street
The above eight sketches are various details and elements which comprised the final sketches. The bottom sketch vignette is from the final scene of the story where Edith finally makes it back to her home in Philadelphia on Diamond Street and is hugged by her parents.
The second from the top is a detail of the Japanese news photographer who insisted on taking a group photo of the American team’s baseball cleat shoes… because the Japanese public was fascinated that the “girls” were wearing such athletic men’s shoes and not wearing fashionable heeled women’s shoes!

Below are various views of sketches and final drawings in progress on my drawing table or on my light box… The way I create my final illustrations is to make the final drawing elements with charcoal pencil & ink on paper and then scan those final completed drawings into Photoshop. I also paint various background color fields and textures with gouache on paper and also scan those elements into Photoshop as well… 



The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
sketch on light box, The Kid from Diamond Street

The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
working on final drawing using charcoal pencil, The Kid from Diamond Street

The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
working on final drawing using charcoal pencil, The Kid from Diamond Street

The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
working on final drawing using charcoal pencil, The Kid from Diamond Street

The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
working on cover sketch element, The Kid from Diamond Street

Above are various views of sketches and final drawings in progress on my drawing table or on my light box… The way I create my final illustrations is to make the final drawing elements with charcoal pencil & ink on paper and then scan those final completed drawings into Photoshop. I also paint various background fields and textures with gouache on paper and also scan those elements into Photoshop as well… 


The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
detail of final illustration, The Kid from Diamond Street

Above is detail of a final illustration where we see Edith as baby with her parents. The family I rendered in sepia tones so that the full color baby Edith would stand out within the image.

The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
detail of final illustration, The Kid from Diamond Street

Above is detail of a final illustration of a Japanese news photographer obsessed with getting a shot of the American all-female team wearing their baseball cleats! Of course, I had to research the film camera style used in 1925…

The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
detail of final illustration, The Kid from Diamond Street

 Above is detail of a final illustration of the American all-female team aboard the Thomas Jefferson steam liner cruise ship that brought them to Japan in 13 day across the Pacific.
This was a huge undertaking depicting the crowds on the docks, the passengers and the ship… all in the fashions of the era.

The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
final illustration, The Kid from Diamond Street

Above is the full illustration of the ship scene -double page spread in the book…with the text reversed in white, positioned in the lower right side in the ship’s dark blue hull.

The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
detail of final illustration, The Kid from Diamond Street

Above is detail of a final illustration of one of the baseball game scenes. 


With a period story like The Kid from Diamond Street, the sketch and final illustration process takes much longer… because there is extensive research at the front end to make sure I’m getting the objects and fashions of the era generally correct. This particular project took a few weeks of gathering reference, then about two months of actual sketch work and sketch revisions… followed by about four months of creating the final illustrations.

The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
cover rough sketchesThe Kid from Diamond Street
The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
revised cover sketchThe Kid from Diamond Street
The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
revised cover sketchThe Kid from Diamond Street
The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
final cover sketchThe Kid from Diamond Street
The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
refining cover sketchThe Kid from Diamond Street
The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
detail of refining cover sketchThe Kid from Diamond Street
The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
final cover with typeThe Kid from Diamond Street
The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
detail of final cover with typeThe Kid from Diamond Street
The Kid from Diamond Street -the sketch & illustration process
actual final cover art full viewThe Kid from Diamond Street
The above nine images are of some initial doodle sketches, rough sketches, refined sketches, and the final cover illustration… The initial doodle sketches conceptualize the basic possible look for the cover. In reality is there are many, many more cover sketch idea that get tossed. The ones shown here is the selected version that actually made it as the final cover concept. The designer of this book, Sharismar Rodriguez, did such a wonderfully tasteful cover title design, and design of the entire book. Her cover title treatment feels contemporary yet also manages to fit the feel of the 1920’s story at the same time.

Little Edith Houghton of Philadelphia played professional baseball for all-female teams from age 10 up until about age 19. She was in the military… and later in her life became the first female baseball scout in Major League Baseball!

I hope this post gives you an informative glimpse into the illustration process…

The Kid from Diamond Street was released in April 2016 by Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) Buy it in bookstores and on-line. Written by Audrey Vernick and illustrated by Steven Salerno.

Visit my illustration web site, stevensalerno.com to see many more picture books I have illustrated for kids, as well as samples of my illustrations for advertising, magazines, newspapers, and packaging…

new Polar Bear story… doodles & sketches

Thus far in my career I’ve illustrated 24 picture books. (#23 is “The Kid from Diamond Street” written by Audrey Vernick/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and #24 is “Puppy Princess” written by Sue Fliess/Little Golden Books Random House -are both being released this year.
In 2017 I will have picture books #25 and #26 published… one of them being “Goldenlocks and the Three Pirates” written by April Jones Prince/Farrar Straus & Giroux) 

But of all these published picture books, only four of the titles am I also the author: “Coco the Carrot”  “Little Tumbo”  “Harry Hungry”  and  most recently in 2015 for Abrams Books, “Wild Child.”

So I am always writing new picture book stories. Right now I’m writing one about a Polar Bear who travels from his home at the North Pole to try and find out why all the ice is melting and the days are getting warmer. Because I’m an illustrator, the great advantage is that as I am writing the story, even when it’s still in a very rough preliminary draft stage, at the same time I can also be doodling and sketching the characters of the story, which sometimes can help me figure out how to shape the narrative. Posted here are a few sketches which are developing the look and feel of the bear character. They are all created with ink and digital color.

Visit stevensalerno.com to see my picture books as well as my illustration portfolios for advertising, editorial, food, etc…
polar bear story sketch. visit stevensalerno.com

new Polar Bear story... doodles & sketches
polar bear story sketch. visit stevensalerno.com
new Polar Bear story... doodles & sketches
polar bear story sketch. visit stevensalerno.com

HOOT! (the owl illustration project that never got off the ground)

For the past 5 months I have been entrenched in my latest picture book project (Goldenlocks and the Three Pirates for publisher Farrar Straus & Giroux) and during this time I have very little extra time to also take on other peripheral illustration projects. So when I do, they are projects which are not tedious or too big, and I feel I can handle the time it will take to complete them….


This post is about an assignment I recently took on from a design & branding firm here in NYC… whose client is in the clean energy field. The thrust of the project was for me to design an owl character who would appear on the client’s new web site to act as an informational guide to their services. Once I designed the character the project was to also create five illustrations depicting the owl in various actions relative to five aspects of the client’s provided service features. Here are the preliminary color sketches I presented…


sketch #01 crayon and digital color

HOOT! (the owl illustration project that never got off the ground)
sketch #02 crayon and digital color

-at this stage it was decided that the owl would be RED color…. one of five colors to be strictly used within a limited palette chosen by the design firm as part of the visual architecture of the client’s web site…

HOOT! (the owl illustration project that never got off the ground)
sketch #03 crayon and digital color

HOOT! (the owl illustration project that never got off the ground)
sketch #04 crayon and digital color

HOOT! (the owl illustration project that never got off the ground)
sketch #05 crayon and digital color

The above sketches, 1 thru 5, are the initial character sketches I created…. #05 being the finalized version most like by the design firm at this stage. (This is all before anything is shown to the client)

HOOT! (the owl illustration project that never got off the ground)
sketch #06 crayon and digital color

HOOT! (the owl illustration project that never got off the ground)
sketch #07 crayon and digital color

HOOT! (the owl illustration project that never got off the ground)
sketch #08 crayon and digital color

HOOT! (the owl illustration project that never got off the ground)
sketch #09 crayon and digital color

The above sketches, 6 thru 9, are side versions created because the design firm now wanted to explore the concept of the owl looking more minimal and graphic, kind of like the google map locator icon…

HOOT! (the owl illustration project that never got off the ground)
sketch #10 crayon and digital color

HOOT! (the owl illustration project that never got off the ground)
sketch #11 crayon and digital color

HOOT! (the owl illustration project that never got off the ground)
sketch #12 crayon and digital color


The above sketches, 10 and 11 are additional side versions created because the design firm then wanted to explore the concept of the owl looking more naturalistic yet still stylized… Sketch #12 was sort of a hybrid between the naturalistic representation and the earlier initial sketch #05…

HOOT! (the owl illustration project that never got off the ground)
sketch #13 crayon and digital color

Above sketch #13 was created as the “final” sketch… because after seeing all the various versions the design firm felt that the final look should return back to looking more like the owl did in my initial sketches, using #03 as the reference to work off of…. 

So sketch #13 was the character version presented to the client as what they felt should be the look of the owl.

Long story short… the client rejected the entire look and thrust of the proposed newly designed web site presented by the design firm, and so the owl character as a concept was tossed out with the bath water…

Moral of the story for all you green-behind-the-ears young illustrators: 
always make sure and have your client sign an assignment agreement contract with you before even starting the project. And make sure that the contract has a kill-fee clause in place defining exactly how much your fee will be in the case of the project being terminated after you have completed the sketch stage. Which, of course, I did. 

Visit stevensalerno.com to view my various portfolio sections.


Arrrrgh! -a pirate spin to a classic children’s book story

My latest picture book project, well under way, is illustrating the April Jones Prince story Goldenlocks and the Three Pirates. It’s the spirited retelling of the classic story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears… but this time with a fun pirate spin. 


I spent the fall months in 2015 completing all the preliminary sketches and getting approval from the publisher, Farrar, Straus & Giroux… and have been plodding along since the middle of November working on the final illustrations, essentially completing one spread a week. (There are about 16 spreads in all, plus the title page art and of course the cover art too) It will probably take me until the beginning of March to complete this project, my 25th illustrated picture book to date, and the first time working with FS&G (editor: the marvelous Margaret Ferguson)


Posted here is a sneak peek at one of the completed finished illustrations…. actually a detail view, not the full image. It’s of the main character, Goldenlocks, fast asleep in one of the pirate hammocks. It was created with a deep sepia crayon, gouache and additional digital color.

view an earlier post about this project and view preliminary sketches.


another earlier post here too!



detail from illustration by Steven Salerno for Goldenlocks and the Three Pirates by April Jones Prince



Goldenlocks and the Three Pirates slated for release in spring of 2017.


And look for my next illustrated picture book The Kid from Diamond Street in spring 2016!
Written by Audrey Vernick… our second picture book teamed together. It’s the true story of remarkable Philadelphia girl Edith Houghton… who became a professional baseball player at age ten, playing for the Philadelphia Bobbies, and at age thirteen (in 1925) Edith was star player on an all-female USA team that toured Japan and competed against that country’s college-level male baseball teams. As an adult Edith went on to become the first female scout in all of Major League baseball.



In 2015, I had two other picture books released: 
WILD CHILD (written & illustrated by Steven Salerno -August 2015, Abrams Books for Young Readers) It’s a story about a new kind of wild creature that dominates the jungle, and how all the other animals try and tame it to restore peace and quiet. But nothing they try works. The wild creature just gets wilder… until the clever Gorilla finally figures out a way.
The Fantastic Ferris Wheel (written by Betsy Harvey Kraft, illustrated bySteven Salerno -October 2015, Christy Ottaviano Books) It’s the true life account of American engineer George Washington Ferris, inventor of the giant observation wheel built for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, and dubbed the â€œFerris Wheelâ€. 



Visit stevensalerno.com to view all my various illustration portfolios, and my many picture books for kids.

TBT: Late Night NYC night club scene (circa 1997)

“Late Night NYC” illustration by Steven Salerno ©1997

TBT
Here’s an ink & pastel illustration I created 18 years ago depicting a lively NYC nightclub scene… I can’t remember who the client was, or even if it was an advertising or editorial assignment, but it’s one of my favorites. I have it framed and on display in my studio. 


It was made simply by drawing the line art of the characters with an ink nib pen, then rubbing pastel colors into the paper with my fingers. If I were to create this same type illustration today I would still draw the characters with and ink pen on paper, but instead of rubbing the pastel into the ink drawing, I would rub the pastel onto a separate piece of paper, then scan the ink drawing and the pastel piece into Photoshop in separate layers. This would give me more flexibility in merging the ink line drawing with the pastel color background in terms of additionally manipulating the colors digitally as well as jockeying the positions of both elements. 


Visit stevensalerno.com