July 2015 Meeting Review
Jason Fruchter Presents: Creating Children’s Books From Flash Animation
Our July meeting was originally supposed to be about 3D computer animation. However, our presenter cancelled at the last minute. No 3D animator could be found to replace him. As they say…the show must go on! So I, your humble Cartoonists Northwest president Jason Fruchter, took on the task of filling in as the July speaker. I decided to kill two birds with one stone, so I brought in a current project I was working on. I was able to get a little work done while demonstrating my techniques to the group. It was a peek into my world as a layout artist for children’s books based on the popular PBS Kids TV series Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.
I started by playing a video clip from the episode the book is based on. Pretty much all the books I work on are based directly on actual episodes from the TV series. I showed a scene from the episode where Daniel Tiger and his friend O the Owl are playing outside in the rain. When lightning and thunder strike they get scared and quickly run inside Daniel’s house where Mom Tiger is waiting for them.
The publisher for this book series is Simon & Schuster in New York City. They provide me the galleys (or layouts) of the page. The galleys contain the text, screen captured images from the episode for reference, and art directions. These have all been pre-approved by the licensor before I get them. I’m now ready to compose the final art.
All the animation for the TV show is created in Adobe Flash. Flash is a vector based animation program. The licensor provides the publisher with the original Flash source files from the episode. The publisher then sends me these Flash files to be used as source material to create the characters and backgrounds for the book. In my presentation to the group, I demonstrated how I extract the character poses from the Flash animation and export them as hi resolution images to be composed in Adobe Photoshop.
In Photoshop, I showed how I import the characters and place them over a background. The character art is placed into Photoshop as a smart layer, meaning it is linked to an external file source. If I need to make changes to the character art, I simply update the original file and save the image. The placed character is automatically updated in the Photoshop layout. After all the characters are placed I add some final touches like rain effects and drop shadows. And there you have it, a final page ready to be sent to the publisher for approval and ultimately printed and sold in a big box store near you!
But those who attended the meeting didn’t have to buy the book. They all got to take home their very own copy of a Daniel Tiger book just for showing up! Now don’t you wish you did, too? Oh well. If you have any questions please feel free to ask me at the next meeting or email me at jason@aandjstudios. If you have a little Daniel Tiger fan at home let me know and I’d be happy to bring in a book for them.