Monday, February 6, 2017

The Creation of Booker T. Bear's Hometown, Juneberry Square

Booker T. Bear's hometown, Juneberry Square illustrated by Kurt Keller and Traci Van Wagoner
Booker T. Bear's Home Town, Juneberry Square
The adventure of Booker T. Bear and his friend Dahlya Dragonfly all began in their hometown, Juneberry Square. Why the name and the pretty trees with white blossoms? In her original research for the series, the author, Jen Jellyfish, M.M., wanted to find a unique berry that's not commonly known. With delight she found there's a real berry called a juneberry. This discovery brought her such surprise and joy because her mom's middle name is June, which is the name she goes by, and the middle name of her daughter. The town's name, Juneberry Square, is a tribute to them.

Before sketching began, we received detailed notes for the illustrations for the series and for the first book. These are the notes for the first page of book 1.

Author notes for the illustration of Juneberry Square:
• Quaint but brightly colored town square that’s round; readers’ view facing into the square at street level, able to see shop fronts. So, only a horseshoe-shaped section of the shops will be visible, but the park in the middle will show the full-circle shape.
• Round grassy park as the center of the town square—full circle visible; park includes: fountain in the center, brick stroll path(s) leading to fountain, full-blossomed Juneberry trees, shading the park
flowers and grasses, the standard park benches, trash containers, birds, squirrels, etc . . .
• A roundabout road separates the park from the shops—a horseshoe roundabout since the view of the whole square is as though the viewer is standing on the street looking into the square from one end—stores on the other three sides of the roundabout. Make sense? 
• Fun, kid-inviting shops facing the park, lining the roundabout.
• DAHLYA’S DINER is the square’s main attraction—THE hangout—clearly identifiable among the other shops it’s nestled between The Bee-Nutty shop which is the secondary main shop of attraction
Booker-Dahlya, Grandpop, and Grandmop – on storyline page 1 – should appear, each posed at a different location in the square. For example, Grandpop cleaning the Bee-Nutty Shop window front? Grandmop seen from inside shop window? Booker and Dahlya at the diner front?

Booker always wears a brightly-colored, plain T-shirt. At various times he wears a matching ball cap. 
T-shirts and caps have no graphics or lettering.

We started the project with this knowledge and with the established character of Booker T. Bear from The Library Store, and the basic look for Dahlya Dragonfly.

Booker T. Bear reference image

The sketching began all loose and messy as we tried to get a feel for the town. Pages and pages of sketches later, we had a rough sketch we were happy with. We scanned that mess into the computer and cleaned it up in Photoshop. This is the sketch we sent to the client (Jen and The Library Story) for approval.

Juneberry Square cleaned up sketch by Imagine That! Design
Booker T. Bear, Juneberry Square cleaned up sketch

Booker T. Bear Juneberry Square rough sketch by Traci Van Wagoner at Imagine That! Design
Booker T. Bear, Juneberry Square rough sketch

Jen was thrilled with our vision for Juneberry Square, so we moved to finalizing the illustration. For the first step, we created a black line using Manga. We exported that to Photoshop and colored it in with bright fun colors and our signature texture. And there you have Booker T. Bear and Dahlya Dragonfly's hometown, Juneberry Square.
Booker T. Bear Juneberry Square Illustration by Kurt Keller and Traci Van Wagoner, Imagine That! Design
Booker T. Bear, Juneberry Square Final
Booker T. Bear Juneberry Square black line illustration by Kurt Keller and Traci Van Wagoner atImagine That! Design
Booker T. Bear, Juneberry Square black line

After we had completed the first four books in the series, Booker needed a website in order to share his adventures with the world. Jen enjoyed the toy store on the right, so she and the folks at The Library Store asked us to create a full toy and book store for the website.
Bee Nutty interior illustration by Imagine That! Design
Inside Bee Nutty Shop

Here's a little peek inside the Bee Nutty Shop. To interact with all the fun things inside and to see Dahlya's Diner and The Toy & Book Shop check out Booker T. Bear's website www. Don't forget to buy a book or two while there and share in the fun with Booker and Dahlya on their adventures across the globe. 

updated 9/6/17

All images ©2016 Kurt Keller and Traci Van Wagoner, Imagine That! Design