Second step in illustrating a children’s picturebook

Picture Book Page Break Down

Breakdown2 I have spent three days trying to get the Ballerina book’s words and pages to come out just right for the dummy book. It’s not good to have too many words on each page, and the action must build before each page turn. This book will also be a printed picture book and a picture book app. for iPad, so the word count can’t be too long on each page to read at a small size. This book has over 2000 words which is more words than a normal picture book and has been my main problem.Dummy

The author also wants certain scenes to be illustrated, but they don’t always work out for the page turns. I know some pages will have to be all words without images, because the cost of doing illustrations on each page would be prohibitive.

Since this book will also be a picture book iPad application, each image will have some simple action, movement and/or sound that can be easily done on an iPad. I will be setting this up as I illustrate the story, so multiple variations will be needed for each image to show animations. I know I will eventually get everything to work, it always does in the end.

Character sketch for a new book I am illustrating

Dayne Sislen character studyThis is an early character sketch for one of the children’s picture books I am illustrating. I am working on two new children’s books right now. Working on two at the same time helps me fill the time gaps in between approvals. When an illustrator works directly for self-publishing authors like I do, it sometimes takes awhile for the authors to approve roughs and the character sketches I send for approval. I like to keep busy, so two books works perfectly.

It is important to keep all correspondence separate, and remember which character and directions go with each book. It also helps if one story is about animals, the other about real children.

Most authors I work with, like me to keep their books a secret while I am working on them so it’s hard to share my progress as I go.

I usually start with rough character sketches. When they are approved by the author I do rough color work-ups like this one of the main characters and major props. Then I do a complete rough dummy of the whole book so I know exactly how many illustrations I will be doing and if they will be one page Illustrations, vignettes or spreads. After this rough break down and a dummy is made, I move into rough sketches of each illustration for each page and plan where the text will be. When these are approved, I make tight pencil drawings for final approval before starting the finished color illustrations. When I work on the finished color illustrations, I first make a tonal rough, then play around with color balance. Finally on to the finished illustration. I work in traditional watercolor, gouache, digital pastel and digital oil. The character study above was done in digital pastel (my current favorite).

There are a lot of steps to the process of illustrating a children’s picture book. Many non-illustrators think illustrators just crank out these drawings in one sitting without any planning. More time is spent on planning, sketching and layout than anything else.

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