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Ponder How?

PONDER HOW a Children’s Book Illustrator Works

Welcome to Ponder's studio where picture book illustrations are created. Ponder would like to show you the basic work processes from brainstorming to painting the final art

Most picture books start with a manuscript. An editor from a publishing company acquires a manuscript from an author then selects an illustrator who’s style would go well with the words of the manuscript. Sometimes, a picture book is created by one person who is both the author and illustrator, but that's another story.

“When I first read a manuscript I put on my thinking cap and imagine what the book could look like. I visualize the main characters and events, sometimes even sketch them before I decide if the book is right for me.”

Next she begins to put together Thumbnail sketches.

The Marmalade Cat Character Sketch

"They aren’t drawings of thumbs, they are small simple sketches that help the artist work out how the pictures will be arranged in the book, the details can be worked out later in the final sketches."

Below on the left is a thumbnail sketch that has been enlarged then redrawn on tracing paper in the final sketch on the right. See the similarities and differences.

Click to Enlarge
Ponder does plenty of research for pictures to help her draw her final sketches. She points out, "I have picture files and reference books and search the internet as well as use models. My cats are hard to draw, they won’t stay still except when asleep."

Once the final sketches are
approved by the editor Ponder begins work on the final art. She begins with colored ink lines. Here is an ink sample test , Can you find the Marmalade’s color? When all the ink lines are drawn she begins to color in with paint. “My favorite part, bringing the characters to life!” she says.

Of course the book is not done when the final art is done. The designers put it together with the words (type) and the editors and marketing people prepare it for sale. It can take a year before the book is released and found on your book store shelf.

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