Monday, March 2, 2015

Creating the Art for Adventures at Hound Hotel

I was lucky enough to land a job last year with Capstone Publishing to illustrate a series of chapter books called Adventures at Hound Hotel, illustrated by Shelley Swanson Sateren. The art director had pulled some samples from my website to show me what they liked about my work. These samples were done years ago for an Illustration Friday prompt, but I keep them on my website as they continue to get me work to this day.

They also sent me a manuscript for the first title, "Homesick Herbie." The series is centered around a couple of eight-year-old twins who help out their parents at a family-owned dog kennel. Each cover features a pure-bred dog that the book revolves around.  The manuscript was funny and clever and I knew right away I wanted to take the job.

The specs for the covers were pretty specific and I was given photographs of each breed. The dogs really needed to look true to their breed and yet show a human emotion. It took me a while to zero in on the details. Here are some of the rejected sketches of the Yorkshire Terrier, Homesick Herbie. His owner loves to dress him up with big bows in his hair and he was a pretty unhappy pup when left at the kennel without his "mommy."

Growlin' Grace was supposed to look stern but not angry. This was tough as golden retrievers are so happy go lucky. These poses were rejected and, in the end, we went with a sketch that was a pure frontal position, as was done with the other dogs.

Fearless Freddie was initially supposed to be howling on the cover, but the editorial staff decided they wanted Freddie to look more fearless than fearful.

Here is the final color sketch I sent to the art director for approval before creating the covers. I sent them tight color sketches as the expressions had to be just right. The final art, which I created digitally in photoshop with a wacom tablet, went quickly.

And here are the final covers. The backgrounds were done separately and I created just one background with lots of texture and a set of dog prints so that the production staff had some elements to play with throughout the book. The art director changed the colors for each book and produced the dog collar on the bound side of the book, which I just love.



Now that you've seen the covers, you can head over to the Picture Book Junkies blog for an in-depth interview I did with the author of these adorable stories, Shelley Swanson Sateren! And for more of my art, you can check out my newly-renovated website at

Monday, October 13, 2014

Back on the Blog again!

I worked on this Singalong Storybook, titled Ridin' in the Car, for the Music Together family last year. I love illustrating books with animals and this was quite an eclectic group. The story begins with a dog driving around picking up all his friends for a day trip down to the beach and back. And all the while the animals sing a very catchy tune. 

Here is the sketch I showed the client for the first spread. 

Once the animals hit the beach, they of course run into a family 
of singing pigs...

and everyone joins in!

Ridin' in the Car can be purchased on Amazon and through the Music Together website.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Illustration Friday: Remedy

Nothing like a good thriller to remedy the dog days of summer!

This sketch was created on my ipad2 with ArtRage.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Illustration Friday: Duet

©2010 Deborah Melmon

Sarah and Carly may have been practicing their duet together, but they obviously were not of the same mind when it came to how things were progressing between them.

This is an illustration from a recent book that I worked on called "Picnic at Camp Shalom" published by Kar-Ben Publishing and written by Jacqueline Jules. It is currently available on Amazon.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Happy Spring

The rains in Northern California have subsided and it suddenly feels like Spring! Here is one of my owl designs that was licensed to Lowe's as a large garden flag.

Monday, March 21, 2011

My Latest Book Giveaway

Picnic at Camp Shalom, a book I did for Kar Ben publishing is out, and the Picture Book Junkies are having a celebration week over on our blog. We will be posting a little something different each day. Leave a comment and there will be a giveaway at the end of the week!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Book Release Coming Soon

©2011 Deborah Melmon

I LOVE picture books. It's the one item that I guess you could say I have an obsession over (besides chocolate chip cookies) and I've allowed myself to collect quite a few over the years.
I try as hard as I can to limit my purchases when I'm in a bookstore. I wander through the children's book section for about an hour, pulling books that I want. And then before I checkout, I force myself to only buy the books I feel I just absolutely have to have. It's hard to limit myself to two or three, but I've just about run out of room on my bookshelves.

I actually have three children's book projects, which I illustrated in 2010, that will be released this year. The first is called Labracadabra and hits the bookstores on April 14th. You can read about it on my group blog, the Picture Book Junkies, where I post and review books every Friday. I'm so excited about this book and can't wait to share the artwork and process with you when it is finally in the stores.

Will definitely need to make room on my bookshelves for this one!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

IF: Winter

©2010 Deborah Melmon

Hope you are all enjoying the holidays. This is a portrait of my dog Mack that I used on the front of my Christmas card this year.....enjoying his digital winter wonderland. Happy New Year everyone!

Friday, December 10, 2010

IF: Phenomenon

©2010 Deborah Melmon

A chance meeting turned into an extraordinary friendship.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dusting off the ol' Blog

I feel like I'm in confession.....I'm sorry, it's been months since my last post! I've been working very hard on several books and have also been posting on the PBJ blog every Friday, so unfortunately my own blog has taken a back seat. Hope to get up and running again soon on a regular basis.

By the way, the Picture Book Junkies are celebrating all this week with the release of Alicia Padron's latest board book "ABC Baby Me." Be sure to check it out. Leave a comment on the PBJ blog and you will be included in the book giveaway!

Friday, June 11, 2010

What's on My Desk

©2010 Deborah Melmon

Boy, it's been a long time since my last post! I've been very busy illustrating a couple of books. In in the midst of all that I lost my beautiful Airedale, Gracie, to old age and kidney disease. It has been a tough couple of months, but I'm happy to say that I've adopted another dog! You can check him out on my Friday post at PBJunkies along with a preview of what I'm currently working on.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Already??

©2010 Deborah Melmon

Sorry I've been missing in action with my blogging. Working on several different projects right now which are keeping me pretty busy. Can't wait to share them with you!
You can check out my latest post at Picture Book Junkies on a beautiful book that has just come out called "The Quiet Book" illustrated by Renata Liwska.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Illustration Friday: Dip

Oscar just loved to dip his little bunny nose into beautiful flowers....Happy Easter!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

We've Got Winners!!

Thanks to everyone who entered my Birthday Giveaway!
The two lucky winners are Linda Jenks and Kathy Weller!!!
Your books will be in the mail soon and delivered to you in time for Easter!
Linda is a good friend of mine and Kathy is a member of the Picturebook Junkies!
You can see Kathy's fabulous artwork here.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Illustration Friday: Expired

©2010 Deborah Melmon

Whenever Henrietta sings in the hen house,
you know time with the karaoke machine has expired...
Goodnight everyone!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Birthday Giveaway!

Well, today is my birthday. I've decided to start lying about my age. It's just a number right? Why can't I just make up the number I want? Besides, when my mother called to wish me a Happy Birthday and I reminded her how old I was, her response was one of disbelief...she had to calculate it in her head to make sure I was telling the truth!! So if my mom can't remember and she gave birth to me, then why not just be the age I want to be? So, Happy Birthday to me as I'm feeling pretty darn young today!

And because I'm feeling so good, I thought I would give away of two of my "It's Easter" board books that came out last Spring. Each book comes with dye-cut eggs and the book is attached to a felt bag to hold the eggs. Definitely a book for a young me :o)

Leave me a comment, no later than Monday, April 22 and I will enter you in the drawing. I will post the winners here on Tuesday and will mail out the books in time for Easter. Each book comes with a personalized card and autograph by the illustrator, me!

You can also check out my post on PBJunkies today, all about dogs. Happy weekend!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone! I do have a wee bit of Irish blood in me...just enough to make me thick-headed my golf instructor says....:o) I've been working away on a couple of books, one of which is about a dog. This is a revised version (names have been changed!) of a reject sketch.

I'll be posting more reject sketches and talking about the process of character development for this book on Friday's blog at PBJunkies. Now go drink some green beer!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Illustration Friday: Brave

©Deborah Melmon

It was unclear who was more brave....the elephant who decided to take his first high dive into the pool, or the innocent bystanders who would to have to deal with the aftermath of an elephant possibly doing a belly flop on a cold, foggy morning.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Illustration Friday: Perspective

Dogs are obsessed with being happy.....a good perspective to have!

Friday, February 26, 2010

More PBJ's

Here's my post at the Picture Book Junkies for today.
I will be posting there every Friday.
Stop by and say hello!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Picture Book Junkies

I'm so excited to announce that the Picture Book Junkies are back in business! Alicia Padron, Roz Fulcher, Gina Perry and Kathy Weller are fabulous children's artists dedicated to everything picture book. After a well needed hiatus, they have decided to start up their blog again. And the best news is that I've been invited to join this creative group. I will be blogging on the site every Friday. Check us out!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Can't believe it's been two years of blogging. It's sure been fun making so many new friends!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Something Fun!

Today I attended the Golden Gate Kennel Club Dog Show at the Cow Palace, just south of San Francisco. It's a benched show which means the dogs are on display with their breeders and available for hugs and photo ops. Here are a few photos that were somewhat in focus. A little tough taking clear shots with all the excitement.This little guy is a wire-haired dachshund. Oh so cute! Something to think about for the future, although I'd never breathe a word of it around here with my little old lady Gracie getting on in years.
This Standard Poodle was looking pretty confident that he had the win in the bag.

The Irish Wolfhounds were done and done.
How handsome is this Great Dane and what expressive ears!
And of course I couldn't help posting a picture of my own Best in Show, with her own set of extremely expressive ears, my little baby Gracie. She's a real stinker when I point a
camera at her. She just won't crack a smile!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Illustration Friday: Focused

As part of his New Year's resolution to reduce stress, Arty spent considerable time each day focused on his breathing which helped him experience a sense of inner peace and relaxation.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Illustration Friday: Pioneer

When it came to trailblazing, Marcy's dogs were the best.
Happy New Year everyone!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

More Fun at Lowes

If you've been following my blog, you might remember these guys from last Christmas. Well, they got licensed to Lowes for the 2009 holiday season as art flags. I've had so much fun finding them at my local stores. And I just got back yesterday from a trip to Maui to get a little R&R and guess what....they have Lowes in Hawaii! And, of course, I had to go in a check it out. Sure enough, there were a couple of flags left. :o)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Owl Fabric Preview!

My pesky little owls have found their way onto fabric! Robert Kaufman will be producing this collection of owls and coordinating fabrics which will be sold through Hancock Fabrics sometime next year. Hooty Hoot!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Illustration Friday: Music

Bobby was one cool dog....and the bongos were music to his ears.