Monday, July 15, 2013

Sketching the Sparkling Seashell

My sketchbooks: storyboard and thumbnails.
A really hot summer day is a good time to stay cool and sketch. Today I'm working on my new Floyd book, Floyd and the Sparkling Seashell.

In this story, Floyd, Tiny, and Larue visit one of my favorite places, the beach. They discover some seashells, but of course the shell that Floyd wants is in the water, and he's afraid to go in...

Here's a little peek into how I get from words to illustrations:

There is a lot of imagery in the story I really wanted to expand on in this book, so my first question when getting started was "how many pages"? My last two Floyd books were 32 pages, which is a typical picture book length. Children's books are usually designed in multiples of 8 due to the printing and binding process (odd numbers of pages can leave blank ends and extra costs for pages you're not even using). I really wanted to do more, and so ideally I'd need to go to 40 pages. But would that work?

Usually I just start the illustrations by drawing thumbnail sketches, about half the size of my finished artwork (full-size 2-page spread sizes for these books are 11 x 17 inches), but first I needed to set up a storyboard just to see if the pages would work out to the number I needed before I spent more time on the thumbnails. So what I did was use Post-it notes for the storyboard. I used one for each 2-page spread, and wrote page numbers above. I could remove them or shuffle them to make the story work for the number of pages.

Post-it storyboard

Once I figured that out --and yes, a 40-page format it is!!-- I started my thumbnails in pencil. I print out my story in small text and glue it below the thumbnail so I can see what I'm supposed to be drawing while working. Horizontal lines represent where the text will be set.

A thumbnail sketch for Floyd and the Sparkling Seashell

I'm almost done with the thumbnails as of the moment, so it's back to work for me!

Don't forget: this week, my first-ever GIVEAWAY! Stay tuned...

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