Have you ever wanted
to SEE how a children's picture book is created? Most kids simply
read the book when it's published, but there are many things
have to be done before that happens.
Take a behind the
scenes tour of the creation of Hello
Robots by Bob Staake -- and learn about how this
fun book came to be!
picture book is almost always the careful blending of writing
and art, neither working as well alone as when they work together.
Hello Robots is no different, but the book began as a
story first, the pictures coming later.
"I really just wanted to
write a fun story for kids that centered around robots",
of Hello Robots. "Part of being an illustrator is
making sure that your kid-sensibilities stay with you, so I began
thinking that it would be really cool if four robots all lived
together in the same house -- with no humans around at all. While
I hope it's a fun and silly little story, the bigger theme behind
Hello Robots is that we each have our own individual talents,
but we all need to work together to solve problems, help out
one another, and ultimately succeed. That's the way it should
be with kids and adults, and the robots prove that it's the same
"When the robots
encounter an unexpected thunderstorm," Bob continues, "their
wires get scrabbled and
crossed, they literally have to put their heads together to fix
the problems that result."
"I wrote Hello
Robots on my Apple iBook", says Bob, "and it was
the sort of story that just naturally flowed. I chose to write
the book as a rhyme for a number of reasons. First, rhyming texts
were always the books I loved most in my childhood and, secondly,
I have always been intrigued over how a rhyming story forces
the author to think differently -- and twist a plot in unusual
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I'm writing a children's book story", says Bob, "I'm
always giving thought at the same time to how the characters
will look. After all, these are picture books -- so you can't
really write the story without having a good idea of how the
artwork will play with it. While I was writing Hello Robots,
I created a comprehensive illustration of the cover that depicted
all four of the robots -- Blink and Zinc,
Blip and Zip.
Luckily, my publisher (Viking Children's Books) loved the story and cover. I now had to sketch
out the story as a 32 page picture book."
original, comprehensive digital color sketch (above) for the
cover of 'Hello Robots'. While this colorful illustration
helped the book find a home at Viking, you can see how it differs
from the final cover (right)
the final book cover for Hello Robots, (above)
the robots have been changed somewhat, the background colors
are softened, the typeface has been modified. Even the chocolate
tart's candles have been replaced by cherries!
love to draw", says Bob, "and the process of sketching
out a picture book is always more fun than you can possibly imagine.
It's the only way to make sure that the story flows, that the
drama builds, and that the pictures better clarify the story.
Once I finish the sketches, I print the story and paste it on
top of the artwork. I have then created what we call in publishing
a 'dummy', and the completely sketched book (or dummy) is shown
to my editor for review.
|Once Bob finished writing the story for Hello
Robots, he began sketching out the 32 page picture book using
a simple pencil on 11"x17" bond paper (above). It is
at this point that the art and writing begin to work together.
Because Bob's book illustrations will ultimately be created on
an Apple computer, his pencil sketches are only intended to show
the general "spirit" of a scene, but many details and
special effects are added when the final art is digitized.
|When Bob and his editors at Viking looked at
the split-view scene sketch showing two robots inside their house
and two outisde, they all felt that it would be better to show
the robots performing their tasks in funnier ways. In his final,
color illustration of the scene (shown above and created on a
Apple G4 computer using a program called Adobe Photoshop 3.0),
Bob follows the original sketch - but shows vegetables popping
out of Blink, a power drill extending out of Zinc's head, a silly hose
system in Blip, and Zip using
his trap door-body to collect leaves!
|4: Building Your Image (With A
"Now that my editors,
art directors and I have discussed the sketches and made changes
here and there", says Bob, "it's time for me to sit
down and create the final, color artwork for the book. From the
point that a publisher agrees to publish a book and when it is
to be completed typically spans one year, but with Hello Robots,
Viking asked if there was anyway the book could be a Fall release
instead of Spring. I don't know any author/illustrator who wouldn't
want to have a Fall release date for their book, but this meant
that I would have to create all the color artwork very fast --
within four weeks. I assured them that I would have the book
ready, so I left New York for my home in Chatham, Massachusetts
to finish the book during a very, very, very cold January 2004."
"When I create the
art for a children's book, I always remember back to my own childhood
in Los Angeles in the 1960s. I was simply enthralled with children's
books -- especially those by Dr. Seuss, Tibor Gergeley, Aurelius
Battaglia, Wanda Gag, J.P.Miller, Richard Scarry and Edward Gorey,
and while all those illustrators would use paint, brush and pen
to create their art, I use a computer."
"My sketches are
always done in pencil, but they must then be created digitally
on my Apple computer with a program called Adobe Photoshop 3.
Instead of a typical drawing tool, I use a computer mouse to
pull, stretch and click the pictures. I tend to work very fast,
and it may take me 6 to 8 hours to create any of the two page
illustrations (or spreads) you find in Hello Robots."
|Bob follows the written text of his Hello
Robots story to create the sketch (above) for pages 16 and
17 of Hello Robots showing Blink, Zinc, Blip and
Zip all working outside...
|... and on the computer, first builds the "environment"
(above) that includes trees, sky, a ladder, the Hello Robot's
house. etc (Bob created the pattern on the tree by painting india
ink swirls on drawing paper and then digitally scanning them)
|Once the environment has been "built",
Bob creates illustrations of the robots and adds them into the
scene (above). When the final artwork is given to Viking, the
words of the story will be 'typeset' and added into open spaces
on the pages. Notice how the approaching rain cloud in the upper
left, the grass in the lower left and even the shadowing on the
water tower have been changed?
Robots", says Bob, "was also my first book in which
I incorporated actual photos of elements instead of drawing them.
I was so pleased with how this worked out that I plan to use
more photos and patterns in my next children's books."
|Even photographs of real things (above) like
wood paneling, a Henry Dreyfuss-designed Big Ben alarm clock,
machinery gears and vintage Fiestaware pottery were used in Hello
Robots. When combined with Bob's digital illustrations and
rhyming text, they helped to create a robot world that was based
on fantasy, but grounded in reality.
are just so many little things that go into a children's picture
book", says Bob, "and Hello Robots was no different.
My editors, art directors and production people all work with
me to decide how everything will look -- from the typeface
that the story will be set in to the end papers
-- from the appearance of the book's spine, to the text
on the cover flap that describe the book.
|The end papers within Hello Robots bind
the pages of the book to the hardcover itself. The geometric
pattern is reminiscent of wallpaper or giftwrap, and each diamond
shape is colored to match each robot.
says Bob, "if evvvvverything goes as planned, in the end
you get a children's picture book, one that hopefully teaches,
inspires or just gives a child a smile or two. I was so lucky
to work with so many wonderful people at Viking, the folks
who published Hello Robots. Regina Hayes (my publisher)
was the one who agreed to publish Hello Robots
in the first place, Joy Peskin (my editor) supported me
throughout the entire process of completing the book, Denise
Cronin (my art director) gave me the freedom to make the
artwork in the book big, bright and colorful and Jim Hoover
(my assistant art director) really helped pull all the art and
"If you liked Hello
Robots, these fine people share in the credit as well!"
You can purchase
Hello Robots at your favorite bookstore (ISBN: 0-670-05905-6)
or simply order it online by clicking here.
(and Bob) thank you!
about literature, art and self-expression through the Hello
Robots public display/installation
+ Learn more
about author/illustrator Bob Staake
+ Learn more
about Bob Staake book signings
+ Hey, Librarians,
Curators + Arts Organizations!
travelling installation on the creation of Hello Robots is available
for your institution or group.
public display/installation includes original sketches, step-by-step
computer-generated illustrations, and behind-the-scenes explanatory
text describing the literary, artistic and editorial process
of creating a children's picture book.
uncommon look into one picture book that's sure to inspire children,
and engage adults as well.
this public display, please contact us via email.
+ Order other Bob Staake books. click
+ Learn more about Bob
+ Book Reviewers amd
Media Sources. click
+ Download a hi-res illustration
for reprint/web. click
+ Link to HelloRobots.com with these web-ready
+ Learn more about Bob
+ Request info on subsidiary rights and
for Hello Robots. click
+ Schedule a talk/presentation by the author/illustrator.
- Hello, Robots
- by Bob
Fall 2004 by Viking Children's Books
- 32 Pages 10"x10"
- Full Color
- ISBN 0670059056
- BUY it Now
high-energy picture book goes a long way on a little plot, thanks
to a clean graphic style, a staccato rhyming text, and a surefire
kid-pleaser of a subject. Young robot fans will thrill to this
simple tale, and the strong rhythm of the text makes it an ideal
candidate for storytimes".
- - School
computer-enhanced artwork that features crisp geometric shapes
and Technicolor hues -- thoughtfully designed, right down to
the diamond-encrusted endpapers."
- - Booklist
charming rhyme ... chock-full of funny visual details with a
thumping rhythm that make this an excellent read-aloud."
- - Kirkus
Staake's bold, graphic art style is perfectly suited to the futuristic
subjects of his clever, humorous story."
- - Amazon.com
Staake's modern, crisp illustrations ... practically jump off
- - Publisher's
illustrations (are) a stylistic collision of Russian constructivism
and pop art that explode with energy playing off of basic geometric
shapes and angles and swimming in saturated colors."
- - Publishers
- + Order
other books by Bob Staake
to Hello Robots -- a 2004 nominee for the Society of
Illustrators prestigious 'Original
celebrating the fine art of children's book illustration!.
our Fun + Games area!
Hello Robots was created as a children's book!
|From the writing of the story to the sketching
of the pages, from the creation of color artwork to
the printing of the pages, the process of creating a picture
book is complex. Go behind the scenes of Hello Robots
to see how the book came to be! Click here
|So, you think you really know the Hello Robots?
Then test your robo-knowledge and take our ten question quiz!
Hello Robots stuff!
|From t-shirts and mugs, wall
clocks to lunch boxes, there's a Hello Robots promotional
item that's perfect for you! See all the items now
|BUILD your OWN Hello Robot!