I approached the color design for All Kinds Of Kisses a little differently than I do for most books. Usually I'll begin imagining color schemes while I'm working out initial pencil sketches, and then during render tests I'll try to establish a set of colors that will govern the entire book. This usually involves an at least somewhat limited palette.
For instance, even though the Ella books were colorful, they were actually limited to 8-10 core colors. Which isn't all that limited, but the same reds and browns and blues are everywhere. Some colors were excluded; there was rarely any pink or purple. Standardizing color helps give books a signature look and takes a lot of time-consuming "color deliberation" out of the illustration process.
For this book, however, I wanted to flip the script and create a unique color mood for each image. I started by collecting my thumbnail sketches into a grid so I could see how all of these colors would play together.
Next I blocked out the spreads with bright colors (thinking of them as "jewel tones"), leaving negative space for text placements I'd already worked out in InDesign. I wanted to push the color brightness more than usual without getting garish. Even though I wasn't working with a palette per sé, I tried to maintain visual unity with consistent saturation levels. After a few false starts, I had a series of frames that seemed to work pretty well. A couple of of them weren't quite as exciting as others color-wise, but I felt that once the characters were dropped in that this would change.
I combined the color layouts with my thumbnail sketches and began painting in my characters, but I was careful not to add too much detail. Since I was going to share this with the editorial team at Feiwel & Friends and we hadn't completely defined the characters yet, I wanted to keep the focus on color. Review of the finished character designs came later.
I essentially reduced the characters to design elements by leaving out any facial features. You could tell what they were, but they weren't 'alive'. A few more changes were made to the background colors at this point, but for the most part they worked as planned. I felt that the hummingbirds, for example, ended up working better over mostly negative space.
I don't do a color script for every book, but it made sense for this one. It helped give Feiwel & Friends a good idea of where I wanted to go with things without going too far out on a limb in terms of time. It also turned out to be a big time-saver once I got approval and began the final art phase. I enlarged each of the finished thumbs and dropped them into the production files as reference layers that could be easily sampled.