fc01Forgotten Colours is a beautiful and inspiring iPad app that is filled with stories and illustrations by a very talented group of people. The colors are vivid and the stories filled with wonderful morals and happy endings. I was lucky enough to get a chance to interview the folks behind the magic and bring you some insight into what went into creating such an interactive app. Many thanks to Teo, one of the behind-the-scenes magicians at Play Creatividad, creators of the app, for translating the interview questions and answer for us. Enjoy! And make sure to check out the Forgotten Colours app!

fc-cover

Give us a little background on Forgotten Colours and the idea to turn it into an iPad app.

Francesc (Web Designer): Since the book had worked very well in Spain, we sought a way to share it with the world and the solution was digital publishing. eBook formats fell short because our book combines text and illustrations, but neither did we have any experience in the world of Apps for iOS. By chance we found a platform called Baker Framework for creating book and magazine Apps using Web development techniques (html, css and Javascript). We knew nothing about Apps but had much experience in web design so we decided to do some testing and the result was very good. We had managed to make an e-book but keeping the essence of the original book! Later, when the book was taking shape, we saw that we could add some small animations using Javascript and also some sounds and the result was …An enhanced eBook!

Desiree (Illustrator): We love technology! Working for the iPad is a delight because you can bring characters to life and create atmospheres, moving eyes, playing music, a surprising movement, interact… make a complete book of feelings.

How long did it take to make this app, from preliminary ideas to the full version it is now?

Francesc: From the first tests to the publication in the App Store… about 4 months.

Desiree: This never ends, there are always things to tweak and even more in the iPad world where new possibilities appear every day.

I read in the book that Silvia was originally an accounts assistant. How did it happen that you found your love and talent for writing?

Silvia (Author): Actually, I wrote short stories and scripts as a teenager that I let my friends read. But as I grew older I put my studies and work before, and I forgot what I loved so much. Until Desiree, illustrator and designer of the agency, challenged me to write these stories. I do small copy works in the agency, but writing about what you want is much more stimulating. While writing I remembered how much I enjoyed it, and have since resumed this path in which I hope to go on and contribute with my imagination.

fc05

Carmensina is a very unique character. Where did you get her inspiration from?

Silvia: Carmesina was born an afternoon of genuine inspiration, thinking a crazy idea that came that day at the agency: a one-eyed designer. So I started typing her story with that image in mind. A story as a fable of the world we live in: a gray and disenchanted society. But where with our attitude and imagination we can help to make a change. I also added the presence of Black Cat – inspired by the real cat that we have in the agency – and lots of imagination. And there was Carmesina, a character with a great story and still a lot to tell. Of course, then came David’s work, drawing her, giving her charm… but he will tell you better about that.

David (Illustrator): True, Carmesina is a very unique and peculiar character. Not only by herself but her creation process was as well. Usually when I draw a new character do a lot of sketches until I find what I was looking for. For Carmesina there are no preliminary sketches, when I read the story I picked up the pencil and drew her holding Black Cat in her arms. When I finished I showed it to Silvia and her reaction was: “It’s her!” Just like that sometimes magical things happen; the character finds you. Obviously in the colouring process some features, were improved but essentially the early sketch is the Carmesina that the readers know now.

If you were given the choice to be any character in the book, who would you be?

Silvia: It is very difficult to choose just one character, they are like my children, my small creations, and I am very fond of all of them. But perhaps I would choose Carmesina, she has a great personality, or Griselda, because she is a free spirit, positive and cheerful.

Marta (Illustrator): Griselda, without hesitation.

Francesc: Black Cat, definitely.

Desiree: In this book I like Bella and Griselda because they were able to rebel and be different. We can all change our lives if we are not happy, even if there is a writer who tries to define our destiny.

David: Hmm… Difficult… I guess that, for the impression made on the audience and being the main characters of the second book we are preparing, I prefer the Black Cat – Carmesina tandem. But being a guy, and that answer would be a bit weird, I’ll say the Master Chew Wang.

fc03

The illustration styles in the book are so diverse. What are your favorite media styles? Pencils, watercolors, digital, etc?

Marta: Pencils and digital 😛

Desiree: I choose the media according to what the illustration suggests. I have no favourite, sometimes watercolour, pastel, pencil drawing, directly on the computer…. It is certain that everything ends up on my screen, where I retouch colours, shapes, illustrate and paint. I personally like the illustrations to have an artisan feel; it’s nice when the textures exceed the paper and make you want to touch it…

David: For the book we worked with pencil and coloured digitally, adding watercolour and colour pencil textures. It’s the cleanest and quickest way… but I have worked many years with watercolour and gouache, the truth is that sometimes I miss using these more traditional techniques.

I love the colors in this book! What are you favorite color schemes?

Marta: Even though the book has a bluish – greyish colour scheme, I normally tend to use colours that help the illustration to express its mood and not fixed schemes.

Desiree: In my case it is intuitive, I don’t think, I let go and just do it, enjoy it… but sometimes I don’t like it and I get angry. But the good thing is that with the computer you can change colours and compare. Sometimes you have to let a week pass to resume the picture and find what you were missing, including a colour for example.

David: I have no favourite colour scheme; I think the colour helps a lot to convey the atmosphere and the mood that the story requires. Anyway this is one of the advantages of working digitally. I really admire Guarnido Juanjo (illustrator of the comic book Blacksad) who works in watercolours and does about 3 or 4 coloured sketches for each frame prior to finding the tone that fits. Working digitally you can change hues until you get what you were looking for.

fc04

Was it difficult matching the design of the website and the HTML layout with the feel of the book?

Francesc: The main difficulty was to resolve the differences between the physical book’s square format and the iPad’s rectangular one. We decided to use the vertical view of the iPad and pretend that the book was displayed on a surface thus maintaining the original format. The rest was relatively easy, we have respected the original spirit, tweaking specific details and giving a bit of life to some illustrations with small effects and sounds.

What was it like collaborating with so much creative talent in the illustrators and the writer and all the people who worked on this app?

Marta: Fabu-astic!

Francesc: We are a team that has spent several years working together every day: designers, programmers and illustrators as well as our own writer. Many of us participated in the development of the App. It has been an exciting experience to learn to move through the world of the AppStore and see how our project crosses boundaries every day.

Desiree: A very nice experience! Creativity calls for creativity, someone’s idea is a spark that makes everyone contribute with theirs. It’s a book that had no other claim than to amuse those who worked on it and I think that’s the key to our success.

David: Teaming up with such creative people makes your work improve much faster and the final product is something that could not be achieved individually. It is a joy.

fc-illos

And finally… what “Fuels” you in life?

Silvia: Life itself is inspiration, although sometimes our mood doesn’t allow us to see the beauty it hides, I certainly find my inspiration in the small things, in human relationships and everyday stories. Carmesina and all stories were created this way. In my case, literature and film is also of great inspiration.

Francesc: We are currently focusing our energy on our own projects, the second book that we are finishing and new Apps that we expect to launch soon.

Desiree: The inspiration has been different in every moment of my life, now my daughter is my new muse. Children allow us to play and require us to be fun and create!

David: Life itself! There are lots of things that happen everyday that is the fuel to enjoy it… and if you finally manage to draw them, it’s great!

The Love Letter Scavenger Hunt!

I’ve written about Olga Nunes and her soul-inspiring musical adventure LAMP before. Her music leaves this insatiable wanderlust in my heart and I can’t get enough. So I’m excited to write about the newest leg of her melodious journey is about to begin! And if you’re in San Francisco this Saturday, February 8th, you’re in luck! You could be apart of it!

lovelost01

Join Olga on The Love Letter Scavenger Hunt! It’s “a one-day, whimsy-fueled careen through the Mission, where intrepid adventurers will be given clues to find mysterious lost love letters hidden in parks, alleys,and shops.” As someone who took part in sending bits of poetry to the project, I wish more than anything that I could be apart of this and read the stories myself. This is a project from the heart, and I hope if you get a chance, you’ll go. And take lots of pictures!

lovelost02

You can see a video about the project here: thisletterislost.com and more about Chapter One of LAMP here. You can, of course, follow Olga on twitter and the project twitter page.

For more details about the Love Letter Scavenger Hunt, check out official tumblr flyer.

This is a true musical adventure come to life. Go live the story!

Eulalia! R.I.P. Brian Jacques

When I was in sixth grade, my cousin introduced me to a book series that changed my life. Walking into the library of Phoenix Middle School, I would make a beeline to the bookshelves that lined the wall on the left. Second bookshelf in, second shelf down. I was more familiar with this area than any other and I’m pretty sure I checked those books out more than anyone else.

Redwall by Brian Jacques. The first website I ever created housed my Redwall fanfiction and fanart. I had a page of Redwall quotes and book reviews. That artwork and that “Redwall Story” I wrote were the first things I ever posted online. The first forum I ever took part in was in the ROC (Redwall Online Community) and the very first character I ever RP’d was Mara Treeflyer – a squirrel maiden that lived within the walls of Redwall Abbey.

While the site and fanart and fanfiction dwindled after I went to college, I never stopped reading every book Brian Jacques came out with. The Sable Queen came out last year and I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but I’ve stayed up to date with his books since 1997. There is nothing better than curling up with a big blanket, and a dog, and a Redwall book on a rainy afternoon and losing myself to the stories of Martin the Warrior and Constance the Badger and the great hares of Salamandastron.

So when I heard the news yesterday, that one of greatest and most inspirational children’s author that ever walked this earth had passed away, I was dumbfounded. Of any author (other than, perhaps, Tolkien), he has made the biggest impact on my life. That first story, that first artwork, the very first WEBSITE (!) I ever showed anyone other than my family were all based on Redwall. My best friend? I met because of a forum where I posted Redwall-inspired artwork. I most likely wouldn’t be where I am now, a writer and illustrator and web designer, if I hadn’t read the Redwall series and been inspired to take part in the ROC.

I won’t lie. When I heard the news I cried. I felt like a dear, old friend had passed away. His voice lulled me to sleep many times while I listened to my Redwall tapes. No on in the world could speak Mole speech like he could. I remember road trips with my dad while we both listened to the story of Cluny the Scourage. When I was in high school, I took home my first First Place Ribbon in 4N6 with a fun reading of Cluny and Basil Stag Hare. Redwall is entwined in my life.

Brian Jacques, thank you for every word you ever wrote down. Thank you for Cornflower and Jess Squirrel and Gonff. Thank you for Samkin, Triss, Basil and Constance. Thank you for Salamandastron and Mossflower and Loamhedge and, most importantly, for Redwall Abbey, where all the stories are told. And thank you for Benn and Denmark, too. I wish there had been more stories about those two. Thank you for introducing me to some amazing friends who have changed my life and who have made me a better artist and writer. Thank you for the amazing life you shared with us.

“Don’t be ashamed to weep; ’tis right to grieve. Tears are only water, and flowers, trees, and fruit cannot grow without water. But there must be sunlight also. A wounded heart will heal in time, and when it does, the memory and love of our lost ones is sealed inside to comfort us.”

Eulalia.

Images from my favorite Redwall illustrator Christopher Denise.