ALL ABOUT THE HOUSE THAT INSPIRED THE ILLUSTRATIONS
Pete was contracted to illustrate a series of children’s books by author Jo Stielau and Publishing Director Heather Hannaway of Shuter & Shooter. The first book in the series is called ‘The Ugly Sausage’ and tells the story of a young girl Anna who, on her first sleepover at a friend’s house, has to deal with an awkward meal and a rude, dangerous sausage.
A brief of the action, characters and back story were provided and Pete set about roughing out the illustrations and looking for reference material. When the scamps were nearing completion he realized he already knew the perfect house in which to ‘set’ the story. This was the home of his in-laws David and Barbara Pieters. The house is a modern, open plan home, perfect in both detail and layout for the scenes in the story.
Pete explained that basing the illustrations on an actual place help to make them more convincing and to introduce consistency throughout the artwork. He went to the house and took photographs of the backdrops he needed and later simplified and adapted them. One of the best aspects of this home is that it’s open plan, “If I stood in the center of the lounge, I could see the stairs, kitchen, couch and front doorway in one shot”, he explained. ‘I was thinking as if I had a movie camera in my hands and the space had good depth. It meant I could create layered scenes.”
As an illustrator Pete was accustomed to using hand-drawn maps to plan and ensure the consistency of background scenes, but having a real house to work with was much better. With an open plan space he could, for example, put elements in the background of the action that would be foreground in the next scene, thereby creating continuity. It also enabled him to anchor scenes with elements that would appear in all of them, such as the staircase. He also used a distinctive row of hanging lights above the kitchen counter as a visual anchor.
The blue couch was important to the story and the real one too was perfect as a reference. It is a big couch but simple, elegant and roomy enough to contain the action, as well as believable as an everyday piece of furniture on which kids would be comfortable. “A lot happens on the couch and I felt it was the perfect shape to contain the two kids”, said Pete. Most importantly, the couch has separate cushions, under which the ugly sausage can hide!
The general decor has a light, muted color scheme which Pete kept as it made a good visual backdrop for the more brightly colored kids. Pete also used an upstairs bathroom and bedroom as reference. Only the pets needed to be added.
For owners David and Barbara this was a novel experience and they took an interest in the artwork as it was developed. The illustrations were completed in several phases. After the scamps, Pete proceeded to rough drawings, then line work and finally color was added and the book could be laid out and go to print. Pete worked closely with the writer and editor throughout this time to help realize their vision.
I have just been to sign off on the comic books. It was the first time I got to meet the Ugly Sausage. The delicacy of your painting and the robust characters have made a wonderful book. Thank you! – Jo Stielau (Author)
The book was published by Duzi Publishers – a division of Shuter & Shooter – and in June 2017 Pete received his copy. Of course he also presented the owners of the home with a copy of the book, and we visited to take the photos on this page.
Visit the Ugly Sausage page on the publisher’s website to order the print or e-Book.
Elaine Woodbridge – 2017