Ruffles is a much loved pup, created by David Melling. This guest post from David Melling is brilliant and filled with wonderful illustrations of Ruffles!
RUFFLES by David Melling
Ruffles began life in my sketchbook as a bewildered looking pup in a ruff. I admit I thought little more of him and, sorry to say, the pages of my sketchbook turned and new scribbles and other characters followed.
Fast forward a year or so and I found myself chatting to the lovely folk at Nosy Crow. Flicking through the sketchbook (now full), they were quite taken with this sorry looking pup and we agreed there was a story here to be told.
Soon after, I settled at my drawing board and set out to find out more about Ruffles. This always involves a lot of drawings, probably my favourite part of the picture book making process…lots of exploring by drawing!
So how do I go about this exactly? By drawing Ruffles again and again and again. At first, I’m looking to settle on his look and proportions. Once these are established, I can focus more specifically on his character and personality by paying more attention to posture, pose and expression.
Sharing these early drawings with Nosy Crow, a narrative or sorts was established and we set about discussing the design possibilities of the book. We both agreed early on that Ruffles could contribute much of the story telling himself through two key elements; his character and his reactions to the environment around him. As Ruffles filled more sketchbooks we both felt his personality was really beginning to shine through.
The simple, graphic look of the Ruffles books lends a passing nod towards the Miffy books by Dick Bruna in terms of the use of colour and some of the graphic elements. This wasn’t our intention but something that developed organically as the book took shape. I discovered the use of a limited colour palette can be a powerful a tool in terms of portraying emotion, atmosphere and the overall pacing of a story.
When developing a picture book series there are inevitably some elements that need to be consistent…elements that contribute to the look and feel of a series. The challenge is to keep each book fresh, sharp and hopefully entertaining.
I mention ‘series’ because fortunately, from the outset, Nosy Crow wanted three Ruffles picture books. Once Ruffles and the red, red coat was complete, it was only a few months before I was thinking about Book 2.
Coincidentally, both my editor and myself thought it would be interesting to introduce a kitten. One kitten became three…before eventually settling on five!
Drawing five kittens tumbling around Ruffles was so much fun although I’m not sure I realised just how many kittens I would have to draw in total throughout the book. A quick count tells me it’s around 230…give or take. I treated the 5 kittens as one character; a lively collection of chaotic, boisterous fur balls interrupting Ruffles day. It was great opportunity to test (and draw), Ruffles’ wilting patience.
And the future? Well, I’ve just finished Book 3 but I can’t share anything quite yet. The best I can offer is this sneaky peak of Ruffles getting coloured in Photoshop. Which is funny in itself because Photoshop always makes his ears tickle!