I have always been the sort of person to not over-think what I am drawing; that’s the best way to get it wrong! I tend to be expressive and quirky, and I like my illustrations to have something unique about them. However, every single drawing or painting needs a certain amount of preparation and planning, so here’s what happens!
Sarah’s Method of Drawing
I like to scribble ideas down, whether it’s on a piece of scrap paper, or these days, usually on my tablet! It’s all part of the crucial process of developing an image. Sketching out the ideas kick-starts the whole process. Once these ideas are formed, I use the powerful software I have at my disposal to build up the images, layer by layer, eventually making the most simple illustration complex and detailed. In the early days of Happydesigner, and before the arrival of the powerful computers and bespoke hardware available today, the sketches were made on numerous pieces of paper. The illustrations were then gradually built up using the ‘Lightbox’ process, with the final image being scanned into a computer, ready for placing into the book template.
This is also a good method when drawing people, with their different angles and minute stages of movement. This is where knowing the character is crucial! It is so important for you to have a clear profile of your characters, whether it’s in your head or on paper. You need to know how the characters stand, what sort of expressions they have and how they fit on the page. It’s also good to consider how your characters will visually interact with your other characters.
What Do I Need to Know About Your Picture Book Idea?
- What are the personalities of each character?
- What does each character look like?
- What is the theme/style/mood of the picture book?
- What is going to go on which page?
- How is the book’s layout going to enhance the flow of the story?
- How do the characters move around in the book?
When faced with this kind of planning I tend to not think too hard about the logistics. I like to work on my gut instinct; I find that working this way is a great thing, trusting yourself to know what looks and feels right. For me, being a little spontaneous is a good way to work.
You Need to Be Self-Critical
Yep, I know, sometimes it’s hard when you have spent three months (or more) on a book, and then have to objectively critique it. Trying to improve work you feel you’ve already analysed, ripped up, started again, re-analysed, ripped up and re-started again, can be really hard work, and tough on you. However, it’s a really, really important part of the process so that you are happy with the finished book. It also contributes to a happier working atmosphere, as we need to be able to communicate effectively throughout this whole process to create the right outcome for everyone.
When I am given a brief, I like to almost sleep with it! I read it over and over until I find myself seeing the pictures forming as I am reading. The first, and most important thing of all, is characterisation. If the character is not 100% at the start of a picture book it can throw the whole project out. This is why it’s so important to have the characters clear in your mind when you approach me. On that note…
Approaching Me For Work
Creating a story-book is a very exciting adventure, especially if it’s your first time. It can also be quite daunting, but please don’t worry, I can help you with every step of the way!
A lot of the time, authors come to me with stories that mean so much to them, and I completely appreciate this. Whether the story has a personal connection or it’s an adventure book written on the back of a dream they had, to me, every story is important. It’s very easy for me to just draw anything and hand it over, but I much prefer to work with my customers to make sure they are part of the development process and adventure too. So, if your story is about a family member and needs the characters to reflect this, just send me a photo and I can make that happen. If you have ideas about your characters and book, I’m always happy to work with you to bring those ideas to life.