Children’s book illustrator, interviewed by author

Andy Mulberry, the author of YA fiction and middle-grade books such as the Sky Castle Series for Adventurous Middle Graders, interviewed me several years ago. She asked some great questions so I decided to re-blog her interview here for you to read.

Introduction by Andy: As a writer without a lick of talent when it comes to illustrating, I’m especially fascinated by Dayne’s thoughtful approach to bringing children’s books to life. Please join me in welcoming her!

Dayne_w characters

Dayne is a children’s picture book illustrator, book designer, and cover designer. She works with authors and publishers to help them bring their wonderful stories to life on the printed page. She has worked as a graphic designer, illustrator, art director, and graphic design teacher for over 30 years. The last 6 years she has specialized in illustrating children’s picture books and designing children’s book covers. Dayne is a member of the International Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). 

“My mother, father, grandmother, and grandfather were all artists in their own way, so I was given plenty of encouragement and all the right materials to keep me  from drawing on the walls.”

Andy: Please recommend another author’s children’s book for me to read.
Dayne answered: My favorite children’s book is: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. I loved it as a child, I loved it when my children were young and I love it as an adult. It opens up a fascinating world to me. I love to escape into books. Of course, I also read gobs of picture books all the time. I’m always in the children’s section of our library.

Andy: What is your favorite dessert?
Dayne answered: Without a doubt, flour-less dark chocolate cake with raspberry sauce. I am an avowed chocoholic, extra dark, please.

Andy: What does your illustrating process look like?
Dayne answered: As a book picture book illustrator I do more than just make pretty illustrations. First I read the authors book carefully, so I understand the characters and the story. I then figure out where each page will break, which pages will be spreads, which will be single illustrations. It’s important that the pages break at a suspenseful moment and a logical place for a change in illustration. I usually make up a storyboard before I even get started.

I then work on developing each character so they fit with the author’s concept of the book. Next steps are the pencil roughs of each page. I make up a dummy at this stage so the author can see how everything fits together. Then we discuss colors for the items on the pages. Finally, I get to start on the actual illustrations. If needed I also design the text to work around the illustrations to emphasize phrases and words that are important.

Lastly, I put all the illustrations together with the text and prepare printer-ready files. I work directly with the author’s printer to make sure all the specifications are perfect and answer all those last minute questions. My background in illustration, as well as graphic design and art direction, makes it possible to put together the whole package.

I started out doing illustrations with pencil and watercolor or pastel. I loved the look of watercolor and pastel.  BUT… I soon found authors wanted to make changes to the illustrations at the last minute. This meant starting all over again or cutting parts out scanning them and moving them around using Photoshop.

I took a painting class in digital media and loved it. I can now replicate, watercolor, pastel, gouache, pen and ink, pencil, oil paint and more with my digital brush. I place the backgrounds on a separate layer, so the characters can be moved around and colors changed. I work on a Wacom Cintiq which is like a large drawing board monitor, I can draw directly on, with a special stylus (brush).

Andy: What authors have inspired you to write?
Dayne answered: I love picture books by author/illustrators. I think when the writer and illustrator is the same person, there is an economy of words and perfect rapport between image and written word. Eric Carle’s Very Hungry Caterpillar, Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, Dan Santat’s Beekle and Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat, are some perfect examples.

Andy: What are you working on right now?
Dayne answered: I am finishing up illustrating a picture book for a self-publishing author. I can’t talk about the book I am illustrating for someone else until it is published. But what I am most excited about are several stories I am writing and illustrating. I have four dummies finished of my stories. A dummy is a tool to sell a story to a publishing company or to procure an agent to represent me as an author/illustrator. A dummy is a rough of the finished book with all illustrations in pencil and all the words in place. Then I add two or three finished illustrations to give an idea of how the finished book will look.

When I write, I start with the pictures, then write the words to fit the action on the page. That’s the way I think and it works for me. I’ve been driving my SCBWI picture book critique group crazy with all my rough drawings with a few words. They keep asking to see my typed manuscript.

Andy: Love the idea of you both writing and illustrating picture books or an early chapter book! I so wish the illustration fairy had whacked me with her stick too 🙂 I’m looking forward to reading and seeing more about your projects on your blog.

2 comments on “Children’s book illustrator, interviewed by author

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