The Children’s Book Review | April 25, 2016
Inside Tim Miller’s Studio
My studio is in the basement of my apartment. It’s a generous-sized space with plenty of good light. I prefer things nice and tidy, but I’m not very good at keeping it that way and it’s usually a mess. I have a drawing table that faces a window looking out onto the street, but I keep the curtain down so I don’t get distracted by every person that walks by. I also have another desk close beside it with my computer, Wacom tablet, and printer. Next to that are a pair of flat files with my scanner on top. In the back corner I have a shelving unit where I keep all my art supplies, as well as some different mementos and artifacts that keep me company including an old tiny yellow teddy bear, a hand-painted Japanese postcard of a baby crying, and a World War I toy figurine of a German Shepard. Finally, I have one large wall that I use to look at stuff I am working on, as well as work by others that I’m inspired by. Right now the current exhibition consists of several sketches from What’s Cooking Moo Moo?, the follow-up to Moo Moo in a Tutu, several drawings and paintings by former students when I taught at the Queens Museum, and some different images by Dubuffet including Smoker by a Wall.
Tim Miller’s Creative Process
My process can vary from book to book. I drew Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book) with brush and ink and painted it with watercolor, but then tweaked everything digitally. Margarash I did all by hand, working with brush, ink, watercolor, and colored pencil. For my most recent book, Moo Moo in a Tutu, I drew everything again first with brush and ink, and then colored it digitally.
I always start a project by trying to nail down my first visual impressions. I go by intuition and rough things out in sketchbooks, trying to get ahold of the basic idea I have in mind. When working out the story for Moo Moo in a Tutu for instance, I sketched out as many different scenarios between Moo Moo and Mr. Quackers that I could think of. With Snappsy I drew directly on the manuscript as I read it. After I accumulate a sufficient number of sketches that I’m happy with, then I redraw everything as storyboards. From there I mull over the right flow of the total and weed out what isn’t necessary. Once that’s resolved, then the thumbnails serve as the foundation for the final compositions. I’ll take these and scan them into the computer and enlarge everything to trim size. Then I work directly from the enlargements on a light box and fine-tune the details with brush and ink. With Snappsy and Moo Moo in a Tutu, I drew out the different fragments of each composition and then pieced everything together digitally. Even though it’s time-consuming, I go this route because it allows me to live with whatever mistakes I make and just use the parts I want. After the composition is set, then I move onto color.
Moo Moo in a Tutu
A Moo Moo and Mr. Quackers Book
Written and Illustrated by Tim Miller
Publisher’s Synopsis: In the classic tradition of George and Martha, Elephant and Piggie, and Frog and Toad comes Moo Moo and Mr. Quackers in their debut, Moo Moo in a Tutu.
A cow who wants to be a ballerina? Are you for real? This is a hilarious, one-of-a-kind friendship story between an adventurous cow and a very loyal duck that will have you quacking up all the way through and applauding for more.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Balzer + Bray | 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0062414403
About Tim Miller
Tim Miller is an author and illustrator. He studied at the School of Visual Arts, where he earned his BFA in cartooning. His first picture book, Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book), received four starred reviews. Publishers Weekly called his illustrations “bold and goofy.” He is also the author-artist of Moo Moo in a Tutu and the the illustrator of the middle grade Hamstersaurus Rex books. He lives in New York City. You can see more of his work at www.timmillerillustration.com.
Discover more books like “Moo Moo in a Tutu,” written and illustrated by Tim Miller, on The Children’s Book Review by following along with our articles tagged with Ballet, Ducks, Friendship, Tim Miller, and Tutu Books. And be sure to check out more authors and illustrators featured in our Inside the Studio column.