Thursday, January 18, 2007

Picture book milestone!

I finished sketches for my next picture book! It took longer than anticipated, sketching over the holidays with my son out of school. But I'm done and ready for tweaking before sending to my publishers.

This book required 19 illustrations, plus the cover (pictured above), and possibly a couple of spots, but we'll make that determination later. For now, I need to work on some inconsistencies. I couldn't decide how I wanted the grandfather character to look so, for now, he appears different on every page. He sort of evolved as I went along. Now, I'll need to go back and make him consistent throughout.

With this book, my biggest challenge was deciding what exactly to illustrate, with more than 3000 words to choose from. The story is richly told, there's much to portray. Originally, I'd proposed producing this as a 40-page, or even 60-page book, but that was going to hike up the price, so we stayed at 32 pages. Normally when I approach a spread, I try to illustrate the main action, or scene. The essence of the words. But in this case, there's easily two, sometimes three, even four, illustratable (is that a word?) scenes per spread in which to choose from. So, I had to chose the most compelling scene to portray, and one that flowed well with the story as a whole.

When I first began sketching this book, I struggled. I hate to admit that. Last year, I invested a lot of time in trying to develop my writing skills. That meant writing every day, sacrificing valuable drawing and painting time. I had plenty of illustration work, but two books had been put on hold. In the meantime, I did smaller quick-hitting projects (though better paying), and I wrote. So when I started this book at the end of last year, I felt kind rusty and I didn't loosen up until almost half way through. Now I'll have to tweak some pages and completely re-sketch others before I send them to the publisher.

What to do next? My schedule is full between now and the end of the month. The final set of revisions, and final art for ZOOM, a pop-up book, is due to the publisher February 2. Final art for the cover of my tweener calendar, My Peepz 2008, is due at the end of the month. I need to prepare art for display at the San Antonio Children's museum. I'm the featured artist for February. Also, more textile designs have been requested by the end of the month to expand my line. Then, I need to do some character studies for RON, a book to publish in late 2008. But probably not until next month. Huh!


Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Don! 3,000 words in 32 pages? That's one tall order.

Anonymous said...

Cool sketch Don! Great to hear about your process and challenges. I once heard someone (illustrator or AD?) suggest starting with the illos in the middle of the book first because the characters do tend to evolve with each piece. Save the first and last pages for the end of the project. I thought that was interesting.

What to do next...wish I could be so lucky! :)


Liz said...

Wow -- big news!
I cannot imagine a 3,000 word picture book, but the idea that there are editors willing to grant any writer that much space THRILLS the heart!
LOVE the cover sketch, the braids...

rindawriter said...

INTERESTING to see that the sketch is larger than the illustration will be in the original book...thanks for sharing. The 3,000 words is quite unusual still, but it's nice to see more of the longer books with pictures in them. Always were my favorites.