Tuesday, May 8, 2018

twelve part picture book process for authors and/or illustrators

Everyone has a different way they create picture books. I've been working on new picture book ideas lately and decided to outline my process below.

(Note: If you're looking for help on how to write picture books, or want a more detailed post with tips, check out this previous post: How To Write A Picture Book In Twelve Easy Steps.)

This is an outline of my current process:
(subject to change depending on the book or if I find a better way)

Twelve Part Picture Book Process:

1. PB idea (either an idea by itself or from drawing/doodling a character or scene)

2. research*

3. decide that I can NOT draw and/or write it, or DON'T want to

4. write idea down in case I learn how to draw and/or write it later, or I change my mind

5. new PB idea

6. research*

7. decide that I CAN and/or WANT TO draw / write it! Yay!

8. write and revise
(Sometimes I add: 8b. send to agent for feedback before step 9, and then revise again and repeat until it works.)

9. create and revise sketches and PB dummy**
(Sometimes I add: 9b. send to agent for feedback before step 10, and then revise again and repeat until it works.)

10. make 2-3 pgs of final art

11. send out
(Send to agent first, revise until it works, then submit to publishers when it's ready.)

12. rinse and repeat

What's your process?

Happy Picture Book Making!

* Research Note: Research includes (but is not limited to), finding information on the subject of the book you're writing, finding out whether or not there are other books on your topic (+ thinking about how yours will be different if there are lots of them, or how yours will introduce topic if there aren't any), and reading mentor picture books. Mentor books are books that are similar to the one you are trying to write, whether it's the subject of the book, the story, the style written, age group, etc. Also, research can and usually does happen again during the writing / drawing stages.

** Dummy Note: Authors can benefit from making simple dummies to see where page turns might fall and whether or not they have enough content for a picture book. You can do this even if you can't draw. You don't even have to include drawings, you can just put the words on the page. Or if you want, you can draw stick figures. These mock ups are for personal use in the writing process and not to send to publishers, unless you're also an illustrator.

If you're interested in becoming a picture book illustrator and/or writer, here are some of my past posts that might help:

How To Write A Picture Book In Twelve Easy Steps

The Path Illustrators Take To Get Their Work Noticed And Advance Their Careers

Five Tips For Illustrators  

The Importance Of Making Art For Fun

Three Ways To Make A Picture Book Dummy 

Ten Tips For Choosing What To Draw For Your Portfolio, And Ten Ways To Find Inspiration

If You Just Want To Illustrate And Not Write   

Friday, March 30, 2018

let's continue celebrating diverse kidlit women and nonbinary people after March

All month, there’s been a focus on women in kidlit. There have been articles, book recommendations, illustrator spotlights, and more. People have been talking about kidlit women a lot more than usual this month. Unfortunately, the month is almost over. What will happen when the next month starts? Will we go back to business as usual? I sure hope not.

Today might be the last day of March, but it doesn’t have to be the last day that we lift up women in kidlit. We can celebrate the writing and illustrating of women creating books for kids all year long. And that celebration will be even better if it’s inclusive of all women, including, but not limited to, women of color, women of all religions, women from different economic backgrounds, disabled women, neurodiverse women, LGBTIQA women, and nonbinary people too.

Here are a few ways that we can continue this momentum:

* Follow the hashtags #KidlitWomen, #WomenInIllustration, and #KidlitEquality (which includes nonbinary people, and which is starting to be used already) on Twitter, and use them to continue the conversation.

* Read #KidlitWomen articles from March you missed, and tell others about them too. Post a link or reblog/retweet/retumbl/repost it for people who follow you on social media in case they haven’t read the article yet, or they did, but want to reread.

* Check out the Women Children’s Book Illustrators Pinterest board (https://www.pinterest.com/joycewanbooks/women-childrens-book-illustrators/), made by Joyce Wan and Theresa Kietlinski, and use it as a springboard to find new favorite illustrators, or to find new illustrated books to read. Share your favorites on social media, at the library or bookstore, at schools, or with family and friends as gifts.

* Look for books written and/or illustrated by diverse women and nonbinary people when you go to the library or bookstore. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, or need a recommendation, ask the librarian or bookseller. Maybe you’ll introduce them to an author and/or illustrator they hadn’t discovered yet.

* If you do book reviews, or book giveaways, include books by diverse women and nonbinary people.

* Read and recommend books with diverse girls and nonbinary characters, especially if their authors and/or illustrators are diverse women or nonbinary too.

This might seem like a lot to do, but the good thing is that you don’t have to do it all. Start small, by adding books by diverse women and nonbinary people to what you are already doing. If you have time, do one more thing. If you aren’t doing anything yet, start small. Talk about the books by diverse women and nonbinary people that you’re reading and loving. You can review them if you want, or just post or tweet that you loved the book. If you have time, post the picture of the cover to go along with your tweet. Or you can start a list on Twitter of your favorite diverse women and nonbinary illustrators of children’s books. Or make one for writers, or author/illustrators, or all three. You don’t have to do it all at once (that would be a daunting task). You can add names when you find them. And then if people are looking for illustrators, or writers, or author/illustrators, you’ll have a list to point them to.

If we all continue to celebrate and include women and nonbinary people who create books when we’re reading, talking, reviewing, and recommending books, hopefully the gender balance in kidlit of who is getting promoted, recognized, and awarded will be more equal to who is creating the books.

Any other ideas for continuing this after the month ends, or anything I forgot? If so, please leave a note in the comments!
This post is part of celebrating Women’s History month with 31 days of posts focused on improving the climate for social and gender equality in the children’s and teens’ literature community. Join in the conversation on Twitter with the hashtags #KidlitWomen, #WomenInIllustration, and #KidlitEquality, or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/kidlitwomen.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

octopus mail for illustration friday

Even sea creatures wait for the mail to arrive! The prompt for Illustration Friday this week is: mail. And the Colour Collective color for tomorrow is Buttercup (which incidentally is also the name of the yellow fish in this picture):

Hope you get something fun in the mail this week!

Friday, August 11, 2017

cows celebrate world lion day, international cat day, and a beehive hairdo for illustration friday

It's another art filled week around here, and also a holiday week. What holidays you ask? Today is World Lion Day! The cows are celebrating (or at least one of them is). Did you celebrate or practice your ROAR?

Yesterday was Book Lovers Day, and the prompt for Illustration Friday this week was hair, so I combined the two to create a girl and her teddy bear, both with beehive hairdos that are actually beehives! Added a few bees and bears too:

International Cat Day was celebrated on Monday this week. We don't have cats to help us celebrate, so I drew some kitties. (If you have cats, please give them a scratch behind the ears for me!)

Today's holiday is Play In The Sand Day and the color for Colour Collective is
Vert Réséda, a very bright sea green. (Hard to recreate that color in watercolor, but I think I got close.)

This little girl's sandcastle looks a little bit like a cake. Maybe she'll grow up to be a baker or cake decorator, or maybe it's her birthday, or possibly she just wants a piece of cake.

And last but not least, the new prompt for Illustration Friday was just announced, and it's PIZZA! It's not officially a holiday this week, but any day with pizza is a holiday ;) So here is a chicken celebrating with pizza!

Happy weekend! Hope you all have a art filled holiday full of celebrations, whether they are official holidays or not (have some pizza and celebrate).

Friday, July 28, 2017

two feathered sailors, a plaid dinosaur, and a cow with a moostache

I'm experimenting with a new style* for my portfolio this week. It's based on the painting process of three of the art for fun images I blogged about last week (umbrella boat, cats, and sheep and giraffe). Even though they're all very different, I used some of the same processes to make the picture (amazing how art can be so similar and yet turn out so different). Still working on how I want the new style to look, but I like the pieces this week better than the ones last week. Here's the progression of paintings:

First, are two feathery sailors for the Illustration Friday prompt (sailor):

Next is a plaid dinosaur, or a Plaid-o-saurus Rex, just for fun:

Finally, I painted a cow with a moo-stache for Colour Collective (the color this week is Portland Orange):

So far I'm liking the new style, even if it's not completely there yet. I think it's getting close though (or at least I hope so)!

What are you working on this week? Have you ever changed your art style? How did it go?

*This is not the first time I've changed my art style. It's never easy, but hopefully in the end it will be worth it! It's always been worth it in the past for me. Fingers crossed it will be this time too!

Friday, July 21, 2017

importance of making art for fun, plus illustration friday and color collective

I just added an art for fun section to my website. 

Q: What is art for fun?

A: Art that's just for fun might be in a different style, use a different medium, or it could even be a doodle! Art for fun is just for you. It's not part of a project or for your portfolio (though it could be in the future.

Q: Why is it important to take time away from other projects to make art that's just for fun?

A: It can be hard to keep your creativity if you're schedule is full, or if you feel obligated to create only a certain type of art for a project, or your portfolio. Art for fun doesn't have an agenda, so there's no pressure. You can create what you want. It can help you stay creative (and avoid burnout) and the things you learn could help you make art for books or other projects. You never know what's going to happen when you make art without a plan*. 

* Not having a plan and doing it for fun doesn't mean you can't be inspired by an illustration prompt, or try new materials to change up your style. (If you've visited my blog before, you might have noticed that I do a lot of art for illustration prompts. This is why.) What it means is that nobody is expecting you to make the art. You can experiment! You can make mistakes!**

** Mistakes are part of the creative process, but sometimes it seems like we don't have room to make mistakes. You don't have to turn in art for fun, or show it to anyone, unless you want to. I don't show all the art for fun on my site, but it's fun to be able to show a few of the pieces I like.

Q: Do you have any examples of art for fun?

A: Yes! Here four pieces of art for fun I made this week (notice how different each of these pieces are). Two of them are for illustration prompts. If I were making these for my portfolio, I wouldn't feel like I could experiment with style and medium as much as I did with these:

1. The prompt for Illustration Friday this week is: ice cream. I enjoyed creating my roller skating dinosaurs, so I decided to paint a dinosaur eating ice cream and experiment with acrylic paint and texture:

2. The color for Colour Collective this week was a blue color - Pantone 292 C, to be exact, which is harder to create in traditional mediums when you can't "pick" the color like you can digitally. I experimented with watercolor, watercolor crayons, and sponge painting to come up with an umbrella boat with a bear and two birds, and lots of blue:

3. This image is a character study of 3 Cats meowing, but mostly it's another experiment in sponge painting (I love sponge painting, but I can't control it, which is part of the fun and also part of the frustration):

4. Last but not least, I experimented with not using black line for my giraffe and sheep (with a little sponge painting in the background):

These are all very different, and I learned things from each one that will help me make art in the future, even if it's digital art. If I were only making art for a book or my portfolio, none of these images would exist. If I weren't making art for fun, I wouldn't grow as an artist, and eventually, that would catch up with me.

Q: What does your regular art look like?

A: If you're not familiar with my art, you might not realize how different this art is from what's in my portfolio. Here are my two latest pieces for comparison, one color, one black line:
I. Roberta and Bailey (the robot) at the Beach:
[Note - even this is different than the art for the book I illustrated (EWE AND AYE) - it's important to keep growing as an artist, IMO.]

II. Crabby Stories - Teller of Tall Tales:

Do you make art for fun? 

Or if you're a writer, do you write stories just for yourself? (Writing for fun can have similar benefits to making art for fun.)

If you want to see more of art for fun, check out the new section on my website.

If you're interested in becoming a picture book illustrator and/or writer, here are some of my past posts that might help:

The Path Illustrators Take To Get Their Work Noticed And Advance Their Careers

Five Tips For Illustrators  

Three Ways To Make A Picture Book Dummy 

Ten Tips For Choosing What To Draw For Your Portfolio, And Ten Ways To Find Inspiration

How To Write A Picture Book In Twelve Easy Steps  

If You Just Want To Illustrate And Not Write  

Friday, June 16, 2017

dinosaurs rollerskating for illustration friday and colour collective

The prompt for Illustration Friday this week is skate, and the color for Colour Collective this week was Ceylon Yellow. So of course I thought of a dinosaur rollerskating! Ended up doing two paintings (so far) and they are both still wet, which means I can't scan* them. Luckily, I can photograph them! Am experimenting with mixed media paintings, these are the first two.

In the first painting, a dinosaur taking a relaxing skate through town (well relaxing for the dinosaur, not so much for the people):

In the second painting, the dinosaur is skating out in the country. A child waves from the car going by (the parent driving is not as happy about the dinosaur as the child):

Thinking about doing a third image, where the dinosaur is skating much faster, maybe even racing someone or something. Or a dino who is not quite as steady on skates. Or maybe just a giant dino foot with skate picture. Hmm. Need to start sketching!

p.s. As you can see by the differences in the two pictures, I'm still developing the dino character.

*p.p.s. If I have time tomorrow, I will scan these pictures so they look better. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

cows and chickens preparing for the farm games

The color for Colour Collective this week was Baker-Miller Pink (the color of the cow noses below). I wasn't sure what to draw, but then remembered a sketch I did a long time ago of a chicken running over the top of a line of cows. It was for a title page of a picture book that sadly never got published, but I've always liked that sketch.

I added a second line of cows, a bunch of baby chickens, had fun with the colors, and came up with this:

Today, I found out that the prompt for Illustration Friday this week is team. I decided that the cows and chickens are teams getting ready for the upcoming Farm Games (which I imagine are like the Olympics for farm animals). Team Moo is preparing by eating a hearty meal. Team Cluck is preparing by running sprints (the baby chicks are still a little unclear about what that means). I decided that in order to concentrate, Team Moo and Team Cluck would have to have no distractions in their image, so away went the background and the image now looks like this:

It looks the same, and yet completely different! I like looking at art with different aspects added or subtracted to see what it looks like and how it changes the image as a whole. Speaking of completely different, here's a version without the black line:

Here's all three of them together, which makes a completely different look, with the white square in between the two multicolored squares (which makes it easier to see that the cow lines are not straight):

Not sure which one I like best. As usual, I like them all for different reasons. If this were for a book project, the one that worked best with the characters and story would be the one to go with for printing (still not always easy to choose).

Do you ever do multiple versions of images or written stories? If so, how do you decide which one you like best, or which one makes it to final art/text?

Friday, April 28, 2017

kitty superhero hideout and a hopscotch superhero

Happy National Superhero Day! To honor the holiday, here are my two latest superheroes:

For for Illustration Friday this week (prompt = shoe) and for Colour Collective (color = lava red), here's the Kitty Superhero Hideout:

Not sure yet whether the Masked Mouse is a friend or foe. Here's a close up of three of the four kitty superheroes:

Last week, I drew the Hopscotch Superhero for Colour Collective (color = kingfisher):

Can't remember the last time I played hopscotch, how about you? Drawing this made me want to get out the chalk and go hop!

Happy National Superhero Day!

Don't forget to wear your cape.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

that's not a rabbit - when magic tricks go sideways

The word for Illustration Friday this week is illusion. Magicians are masters of illusion, but they have to start somewhere. This little girl needs a bit more practice pulling a rabbit out of her hat:

What's that bear doing in there? And why is the bear wearing bunny ears? Or is it really a rabbit in disguise? Illusions can be mysterious.

p.s. This is also for Colour Collective tomorrow (the color is Jonquil Yellow).