Waterloo and Trafalgar

Waterloo & Trafalgar

Tonight was for writing this post and watching some football and thinking about orange and blue. And then this commercial comes on TV. (Well, this one is a few years old. Same flavor, though.)

breakerRemember this. It means something in a bit. I promise I don’t care where you buy your life insurance.breakerWaterloo and Trafalgar

by Olivier Tallec

{published 2012, by Enchanted Lion Books}

Waterloo & Trafalgar is at once spare and very much not. It’s a book about unnecessary fighting and the two stubborn sides who forget why they are even at odds. They are suspicious, bored, but always staid. Until. A snail, a bird, a different perspective. Different looks a little bit the same after all.Waterloo and TrafalgarTallec’s goofy little men end up as a charming shout for peace. They are absurd. They are us.

Waterloo. Blue. Trafalgar. Orange. Opposites. Enemies.Waterloo and TrafalgarcolorwheelThere they are, as far from one another on the color wheel as possible. Direct opposites. Complementary colors.

Orange and blue are a combination of dominance, because each is competing for the attention of your eye. One cool, one warm, constant attention-grabbers. Because of their stark contrast, each truly shouts.Waterloo and TrafalgarThat’s why it’s a duo you see in a lot of advertising for banks, credit cards, and other Important Things. Would that Northwestern Mutual commercial be as strong if it were in a different color palette? Probably not. They want to imply strength, power, and – well, life.

And, ahem. I’m a fan of these two colors. Note my blog header and the rest of this thing’s design. Those design decisions were intentional, and since you are reading this and hanging out here with me, it might just be working.Waterloo and TrafalgarPerfect choices for Waterloo and Trafalgar, right? It wouldn’t make sense for those two ridiculous little men to be represented by closer together hues. Their orange and blues are a tenuous balance.

Besides a color scheme that works, that sings, and that smacks you in the gut, this is just a darn beautiful book. The paper is thick and rich to the touch, and some split pages inside extend the stories and heighten the division at hand.Waterloo and TrafalgarI love the die cuts on the cover – those clever windows reveal these two nuts and their telescopes at the ready. And the endpapers’ narrative is subtle as it holds the story in place. The carved out holes close up by the end, and the stream of blue and orange smash right up against each other.Waterloo and TrafalgarStill different, still far apart on that wheel. Transformed into something lovely together.chMoreToRead

Ok, ok. One more orange and blue moment I love is the opening title sequence to the James Bond flick, Quantum of Solace.

breaker(These titles are created by a studio whose motion design work is just spectacular, MK12. They are the creative minds behind the visuals in Stranger Than Fiction and the gorgeous end titles of The Kite Runner. By the way, notice the colors in the first minute of that one!)

breakerAnd! A whole slew of orange and blue on movie posters. You won’t un-see this color palette once you start noticing it. That’s a promise prefaced with a slight apology! Here’s just one:Hugo_FilmPosters

Freight Train Trip!

Susanna Leonard Hill crafted this little romp of a book, illustrated by Ana Martin Larrañaga. Susanna is a kind, giving, and hilarious part of my online writing community, and her books are just as sweet. I’m a bunch of months late for Phyllis’ World Tour, but Freight Train Trip! caught my eye…

…For two big reasons:

 

Without being an outright concept book for either color or shape, Freight Train Trip! manages to explore both while spilling a thunderous story along its tracks.   This is a sturdy, bigger board book, and it’s cut in the shape of a train. Already cool. When you open it, it’s a long skinny rectangle, also mimicking the snaking lengths of a train. It’s not such an extreme design that little ones won’t be able to maneuver the book, but the subtle nod to its content is smart.

I’m a grown woman, getting older by the nanosecond, but I went through each page and lifted the flaps. I hope this type of interactivity outlasts the iThings. The flaps reveal reactions, animations, or just fun surprises. Each one is a really nice use of shape to add physical dimension to the pages.

And the colors in Freight Train Trip! are buzzing and alive with saturation. I love how Ana Martin Larrañaga sparingly uses texture to allow the full, solid colors to stand alone.

The pages remind me of that fresh, smelly, brand new 8-pack of sharp Crayolas on the first day of school…before the paper rips and the nubs wear down and they break in two from coloring too much.

Pure hues and punchy flaps breathe vibrancy into this book. Know a little one? Know a little one who loves trains? Or colors? Or has little fingers to play with shapes? Freight Train Trip! is a fine tour.

And! If you are a writer or just love words, check out this post on Susanna’s blog revealing some edits she made in creating this book. It’s a master class in revision, pace, and pulse. And plus, her blog is just plain fun to poke.

The Curious Garden

The Peter Brown Studio

A while back, I tweeted this:

It’s true.  This book immediately jumped off the shelf at me because of the colors on the cover.  I LOVE the desaturated tones and vintage feel of the art.  But before I get ahead of myself, let’s talk about that story that buttonhooked me.

Little Liam lives in a dingy and dreary city that is made up of not much but cement and walls.  On a walk one day, he sees some old, abandoned train tracks leading to a tiny struggling garden.  Liam decides to give it some love and care, and ultimately the garden blooms.

Color

Now.  Color is complicated.  A bunch of disciplines have perspectives on it to explain what is most relevant to them.  The physiology of color tells us how light is shot into the eyeball, processed, and interpreted.  Cones and rods and the optic nerve!  There’s the science of color which refers to how color is quantified and coded and spaced on a color wheel.  The psychology of color is always fun…who decided red means love and green means envy?  Or that a yellow room makes you anxious?

Let’s not bother with that yet.  Let’s definitely not bother with ROY G. BIV or complementary colors or tertiary colors or triads or additive mixing or Sir Isaac Newton…

Let’s just talk about the pretty colors.  Liam’s story drives the palette throughout, and it slightly changes from desaturated tones to more vibrant ones as the city becomes greener.  How beautiful is that?  I’m crazy about the blues in the sky.  Even though Liam’s city is a gloomy place, the world itself is not!  It’s a bright and calming blue, and such a lovely backdrop for the fresh greens sprouting.  And how adorable is Liam’s mop of red hair…the reds and oranges complement the blues and punch Liam out of the page as the leader to watch.  This is not an accident!  Peter Brown masterfully used his color palette to tell Liam’s story.

      

     

You can buy prints of Peter Brown’s art here.  {The bear screaming among the flamingos just kills me.  If your work can make me laugh and break my heart at the same time, I think I love you.}