Enjoying my self quarantine for now.

I’m sitting here all cozy in my home enjoying the peace and quiet. No restaurants, no movie theaters, no mall shopping, no church, no meetings, no going to work, no get-togethers with friends, I never thought this would happen in the U.S.

It’s a new reality for all of us. I believe it has brought out the best in many people. I found the hoards of grocery shoppers surprisingly polite and cheery. I had three people try to help me get the last can of my favorite soup from the top shelf way in the back. We all laughed about not having long enough arms. Of course at the check-out lines, everyone stays spaced to give sneezing and coughing room. In our small neighborhood of 27 houses, we have quite a few older couples and single ladies. Everyone is looking out for them. I set up a website with a community forum so we can communicate our needs, fears and offers to help each other.

I have taken all the closures in stride so far. The one that hit me the hardest was the library. It closed before I could really stock up on books to read. I have a large library at home, but I have read all of the books. I guess I will start reading them again, starting with the classics. Books on my iPad just don’t give me the same satisfaction I get with real pages.

WatercolorI have a new children’s picture book ready to start illustrating, so that will keep me occupied during the day. I’m always excited to start working on a new book. Sorry I won’t be able to share the sketches and finished illustrations with you until it’s published.Drawing on Wacom Tablet Watercolor illustration

Counting my blessings and hoping everyone stays well.


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.

If you have comments and or questions please click the thought bubble at the top right of this post or fill in the form below.