Everyone has a memorable childhood book that stays with them well beyond their early years. These books held stories and characters that came to life through the words of the writer, the voices of the loved ones who would read them aloud, and, of course, the illustrations carefully crafted by the artists. Illustrators can lead to a story continuing to be engaging and memorable at any age. Ohenewa Anno is one such illustrator who created the captivating visuals for the recently published What’s That Spooky Sound, a rhyming Halloween story for children written by Jim Horsman.
What’s That Spooky Sound follows three children as they go trick-or-treating through their neighborhood. As a graduate from Ringling College of Art and Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Computer Animation, Anno brings a unique look to the story through the use of 3D modelling. Jim Horsman, the author, chose to work with Anno after seeing her extensive portfolio of digital work.
“Ohenewa’s illustrations captivated me immediately,” Horsman said. “I found her 3D imagery to be a perfect fit for my project. Her creativity and talent was crucial in giving the book life and image.”
Anno was the illustrator for the entirety of the book. She designed the three main characters of the book based on the character descriptions and an understanding of the aesthetic Horsman was trying to acheive: a balance between a spooky Halloween story and a playful children’s book. This balancing act was artfully handled by Anno.
“It was very important to research different moods for both Halloween and children’s books to develop the overall aesthetic,” Anno said. “Most children’s books are very bright, but I wanted to experiment with keeping most elements besides the children themselves very dark.”
The design of the main characters, kept bright and relatable, stand out with their friendly faces and remain relatable to the target audience of children.
“The word most often used to describe Ohenewa’s illustrations is ‘adorable’,” Horsman commented, speaking of the design of the exceedingly adorable main characters of What’s That Spooky Sound.
The moody backgrounds and environments portrayed in What’s That Spooky Sound were fully developed by Anno’s talents with 3D modelling, texturing and lighting techniques. She also made the creative choice to include elements of 2D digital painting to soften the 3D aspects and integrate the story more effectively with the pages of a book.
Anno has mastered the use of multiple programs that she uses in her projects. For the illustrations in What’s That Spooky Sound, she used Autodesk Maya, Pixar’s Renderman, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe InDesign. These programs were used to set up controllers for the eye movement of the characters, creating a skeleton rig for each character and using intricate tools from each program to bring depth and life to the final image. This blending of her artistic and technological skills across these programs lead to high quality still images that moved the story forward.
Supporting the storyline is a crucial part of storybook illustration. Having strong illustrative storytelling alongside a well-crafted use of language by the author will lead to a successful story. What’s That Spooky Sound has received only positive reviews on Amazon, where it is currently available for purchase. Horsman has noted that the book’s success is due to a combination of the writing and the illustrations.
“We have received numerous positive responses to the book, with equal kudos for the story line and the illustrations,” Horsman said.
The book’s success has prompted Horsman to look for further ways to expand on the adventures of the three main characters. As he moves forward with these goals, he stated that he would definitely include his illustrative partner Anno.
“Through the book development process, Ohenewa was extremely professional and responsive. So much so that I am pursuing growth for this project and others,” Horsman enthused. “Indeed, I am preparing to pitch this project to national retailers as well as production companies for potential movie and TV rights. The potential for future development of the three characters is large. Ohenewa’s role in future development is crucial.”
For Anno’s part, her professional career as an illustrator is already taking off with projects spanning different applications for her impressive 3D artistry. She was the 3D designer, website designer, and graphic designer for a leather saddlery company based in Switzerland called Sattleria. She is also engaged in the creative design work as a 3D character modeler bringing even more characters to life for GenZed, an animated comedy.