Homer: The Process

We knew we had a winner combining dogs and baseball! Dogs Don’t Brush Their Teeth! was a concept book, but for Homer we wanted an actual story.
Once we developed the plot, the book was paced out in small “thumbnail” sketches. Then Diane made full sized sketches for a dummy to show to the editor.
Once the dummy was approved, Shelley set out to find the models. Using the sketches that Diane had drawn, Shelley photographed the boy and the dogs as close as possible to the positions in the art. This is what she needed for the title page: boy swinging bat, dog running, boy petting dog, boy and dog reading.
Shelley photographed a neighbor, Gabriel, directing him as needed.
She photographed her brother’s Golden Retriever—Casey—for the dog in the book.
Since the boy and the dog didn’t live near each other, Shelley photographed them separately. Sometimes Gabriel’s mother was a stand-in for the dog!
Then Diane started piecing the different photographs together on the layout, finding the ones that worked best. Shelley took more than 2,000 photographs for this book, using almost 100 different dogs! And one cat—can you find her hiding somewhere in the book?
Diane Photoshopped Casey and Gabriel together.
In the final art, she added backgrounds and drew on the uniform.
We gave a lot of thought as to which breeds would be on each team. The Hounds were the team that the Doggers had to beat, so they were “tougher” looking. For fun, we made trading cards for the endpapers. We wanted the cards to be perforated, so kids could actually tear them out, but it would have been too costly to produce. You can print the cards and cut them out yourself from our Fun Stuff page.
For each layout, Diane silhouetted the dogs out of their backgrounds and placed them into position. The locker room sketch started out like this.
First Homer was added.
All the dogs’ photos were taken apart in order to put them into human positions. Note: No real dogs were harmed in the making of this book!
More dogs added.
The backgrounds and uniforms were drawn on, using a Wacom tablet and Photoshop.
The final art.
Diane used reference from the web to check equipment and proper baseball positions.
Poor dizzy went through a lot of changes!
The final art.

A big thank you goes out to our baseball savvy friends for their enthusiasm and expertise.

Much gratitude also to Tracy, who bathed, bribed and coached Casey.