The Children’s Book Review | May 28, 2016
Inside Erica Sirotich’s Studio
Last year I moved into a bungalow with a spare bedroom so I could use it as a studio. The first thing I did was install a floor-to-ceiling cork wall. I love having bits of inspiration, notes, and pieces in progress hanging in front of me while I work, and being able to easily switch them out, so it’s the perfect solution. Against the cork wall is a giant packing table where I can really spread out and draw. It’s always covered in piles—paper to draw on, paper already drawn on, books, pencil shavings, eraser crumbs; cups of pens, pencils, and other utensils; and stacks of index cards and notebooks for ideas and thumbnails. There’s a light table in the center that I use a lot.
On the opposite side of the room is my digital work station where my computer, scanner, and digital printer live, as well as a pair of flat files. I roll my chair back and forth between the two sides of the studio throughout the day, shifting between analog and the digital modes.
And, of course, there’s a floor-to-ceiling bookcase in the corner for my picture book collection, which is overflowing!
Erica Sirotich’s Creative Process
My first step is always to generate ideas by sketching on paper. I look at reference images but put them away before sketching starts, so my drawings aren’t too tied to reality. For Found Dogs, I sketched as many dogs as I could—hundreds, in all shapes and sizes—and then digitally collaged the sketches together to create compositions I liked.
Once I settled on the general design for each spread, I tacked the sketches in front of me and inked each dog freehand over and over again using a brush and diluted India ink. This was a new process for me—usually, to create final drawings, I just use a light table to trace my polished sketches with fine tip and brush pens. But I found that, with the dogs, more character and personality emerged when I loosened up and let the ink flow more freely. I also created loose shapes with ink washes of varying opacity to create shadows, spots, rosy cheeks, and textures that I layered under the inked lines in Photoshop.
After I had lots of inked dogs to choose from, I scanned them in, sorted them, and tested them out in my page compositions. In some cases, I had ten ink drawings to choose from for each dog on the page. Once my composition was arranged with the dogs that looked the best and complemented one another, I colored them in Photoshop. I then created simple backgrounds for each spread using the same process.
Written and Illustrated by Erica Sirotich
Publisher’s Synopsis: For fans of Sandra Boynton’s Doggies and a perfect fit for every preschooler’s library, this adorable rhyming and counting book tallies up all the dogs at the shelter, and then counts backward as the pups are adopted.
Babies and toddlers will delight in counting up each wriggly, wraggly rescue pup and then counting back down as each doggie is adopted. A bright, bouncy rhyme, jubilant art, and scads of adorable dogs will have wee ones giggling for more.
These patient pound dogs.
Now they’re family!
Ages 2-5 | Publisher: Dial Books | 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0399186417
About Erica Sirotich
Erica Sirotich’s artwork has graced kids’ publications, toy packaging, greeting cards, websites, and apps. In her previous creative life, she owned and operated Cuddlefish Press, where she created prints for children’s rooms and nurseries. Erica is now a full-time author/illustrator and lives in Florida with her own found dog, Russell Redfur.
Discover more books like “Found Dogs,” written and illustrated by Erica Sirotich, on The Children’s Book Review by following along with our articles tagged with Counting, Dogs, Pet Adoption, and Rhyming Text. And be sure to check out more authors and illustrators featured in our Inside the Studio column.