The Making of One Bear Extraordinaire.

Author and artist Jayme McGowan is here to talk about how she made her beautiful picture book; One Bear Extraordinaire.

One Bear Extraodinaire

One Bear Extraordinaire is the story of Bear, a rambling one-man band, who wakes up one morning with a song in his head, but as he tries to play it, discovers that something is missing.

He packs up his camp, stuffs all of his instruments into his backpack and sets off in search of the mysterious missing thing. He meets other musicians along the way and comes to learn that every song sounds sweeter with friends by his side.

The seed of the story sprouted from an image I had drawn of a bear with a backpack over-stuffed with musical instruments. I developed the text of the story from there and the rest of the images followed.

One Bear Sketch

I created the art using a process called “three-dimensional” illustration: I begin with a rough graphite sketch. Then, using colored pencils, I fill in the sketch – trying out different combinations of color to find the right palette. Once I’ve settled on a palette, I pull colored paper from my ever-growing collection of new and repurposed paper. I also hand painted many of the paper elements using watercolors.


I use graphite transfer paper to move the sketch outline onto the colored paper and then add details with ink and colored pencil. I cut out each piece of paper by hand and carefully assemble the pieces using tweezers and glue in order to build my characters, layer by layer. I then stage miniature scenes in a paper theater, using wire and clothespins to hold everything in place. When the scene is complete, I take dozens of photographs with a variety of camera settings, lenses, and light.


Fox Rabbit Raccoon


and Volià! One Bear and his friends come to life!