The Creation of Cooper & The Moose
Gus King poses as Cooper for the book.
It sure is a lot of work to create a children's book! In fact, it took me six years to complete mine. I began by developing my characters. I created my moose first, deciding early on that I wanted him to walk on two legs like Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig, so that he had a human quality about him. I then conceptualized Cooper with the goal of making him stand out from other cartoon boys. After trial and error, I eventually decided that to make Cooper distinguishable, he would always wear a fun hat. In this first book, Cooper starts out wearing a sleeping cap with snowflakes on it, and then he puts on his signature blue knitted beanie cap, which also features snowflakes.
After I developed my characters, I figured out what scenes I needed for the book. Then, I asked my husband and my art teacher's son, Gus King, to act out those scenes, so that I could photograph them. I wanted to use the photos as a guide to accurately capture what my characters would look like moving through space. I turned Gus, who was then 7, into Cooper and my husband into the moose. I also used photographs of Alaska's great outdoors, cabins and my mother's kitchen as inspiration for the backgrounds.
I drew all 32 scenes, which is the size of a standard picture book, on sketch paper. Afterwards, I used a projector to redraw those scenes onto watercolor paper, and I painted them with gouache. I inked all my paintings with India Ink, using both burnt sienna and black.
It was a fun and exciting process, and I learned a lot along the way. I am now having fun illustrating a zany book about Cooper and the Moose's Hawaiian vacation. I hope to have it finished soon!