How to make a Children’s book

Once again that time has come when the frantic dash to get all my projects finished for uni is over. Another year, another £3000. Still I can’t complain, the poor buggers starting next year will have to pay £9000 so by comparison my university education is a bargain!

So what have I learned this year? I’ve learned to always allow half a day to get things printed when deadlines are close and I’ve also learned how to make a Children’s book. I’d love to be a Children’s book illustrator, its the perfect job for spending all your time painting bizarre colourful illustrations of fantastical stuff. My kind of thing basically.

The basic thumbnail for pages 5-6

Our final uni project of the year was a brief taken from the Macmillan Children’s book prize; to illustrate a children’s book. That meant pencil sketches of every page including cover and end-pages along with 4 full colour completed double page spreads. A lot of work for the short time we had. nonetheless, I had a damn good go!

The first thing you need to illustrate a kid’s book, is a kid’s story, so I wrote one. It was loosely based on my rather spoiled little sister and was titled “Princess Bratt’s birthday”.

The pencil sketches for pages 5-6

The next step was to come up with thumbnails for every page, so I knew how to approach the pencil sketches and where to position the text and all the compositional elements. This is perhaps the most challenging part of the process since it’s the foundation you build the rest of your artwork on and requires the most thought and planning. I had of redo several of them before I was happy with the flow.

Stage three, pencilling. This is where I spent a lot of time wondering why I wrote the daft story I did and doing my best to draw lots of stuff clearly enough to be interpreted visually by the potential publisher. It was easier than the thumbnails but a lot slower to do. You can see on the sketch the rough boxes where I’ve left space for the text. When I came to actually adding the text I found I’d left more space than I needed. It occurs to me that it would have been smarter if I’d mapped out the text on the computer after the thumbnail stage so I could see exactly how much space I’d need. Still, I’ll remember next time.Ponies

The final image without the text is above. The painting stage was all done in photoshop with custom brushes.