Plumbum is a 48 page children’s book that I created for the birth of my little niece in 2014. It covers the journey of an invisible creature named Plumbum.
Responsible for the care of a little girl, Plumbum yearns to see what lies beyond the clouds. One day it gets on a journey that takes it far into the universe while leaving the little girl behind. Plumbum meets different creatures and makes friends on its way, however, it realizes that the afar it seeks will remain a place it will never be able to reach. When returning its thoughts on the little girl it finds her in adventures, just like Plumbum experienced them itself. The idea behind the story is not only to prepare kids for an always changing cosmos - close people leaving, new friends coming - but to give parents a hint that children need their own time and space for exploration.
I worked for seven months on making the book, using Photoshop and Illustrator to create a world somewhere between realism and an abstract comic style. The idea, however, is much older. In 2008 I got inspired by an article that described how little children recognize personality by looking at a person’s eyes. As soon as a person covers the eyes, children will say that they cannot see this person anymore. It seems to be, for kids, eyes are the elementary part of a person's personality. Plumbum started as an exploration on how a character can have such eyes as its key element. It ended up with a creature only using eyes and its body language as a possible source of communication. Plumbum’s eyes, however, try to retain a neutral expression - this leaves the possibility for children to reflect their own feelings and put them on the character’s mind. Therefore it was important to me that the main character is neither male nor female, but gives the chance to fit for whomever in whatever situation the kid is in.
The friends Plumbum meets on its journey represent a series of different personality traits: From strong and wise to slow and sad, the characters are written to reflect different feelings a child discovers when growing up.
The use of color
All characters are designed with distinct colors and graphical shapes that set them apart from the pseudo-realistic backgrounds. The whole book follows a color scheme that reflects the story: In the beginning soft pastel colors form dreamy landscapes. Every new page continues with the color of the previous page but tints the background in a bolder variety as Plumbum moves on. In the end, strong black, purple and neon colors dominate the scenes.
The book is not released in any form, yet. And I am currently not seeking for any future release, however, I now see this story as a supporting structure for my personal development. It helped me prepare for becoming an uncle - handling the excitement and tunneling down all the wishes I wanted to tell my little nice on her birthday. Creating a character and sending it on a journey helped me understand storytelling on a very warm and intimate level. Although it seems like a rather complex story for a little kid, I see every single book we own as a steady companion when growing older. I am sure she will understand the story once the time is right.