View Full Version : Making of Childrens Picture Books

04-04-2012, 08:31 AM
I have been freelancing as illustrator for some years. This year I have decided to be a freelancer any more. I rather be working my own projects from start to end. That is with support and from a co-worker.

The working method is simple and is commonly used. It goes like this:

Initial concept stage. The concept is written down. Concept sketches are made.
Manuscripting. Text.
Storyboarding using pencil on paper. Matchbox size uncomplicated sketches at this stage.
Sketching on paper using the right book page size.
Lightboard copying for final drawings.
Scanning at 300 dpi at 100 - 150%.
Colouring in Painter and/or Artrage. Photoshop is being used for colour corrections if necessary..
Text + Layout is made in Serif Draw or Craft Artist.
I guess tis is the way most Childrens Pictures Books illustrators work.

One of my favourite Childrens Pictures Books illustrators is Svein Nyhus from my neighbour country Norway. He has a very nice blog where everybody can learn and get inspired. I am not yet allowed to link to other sites in this forum. But just search for him at: sveinnyhus.blogspot.se and you will find him. Read the Bilderbokskolen / Picturebok Class and the Tegneteknikk / Drawing Techniques

If you dont' read Norwegian it is adviced to use Bing Translator (or some other translator) to understand, because the things he has to teach and say is just great.

How do you make your Childrens Picture Books? Please tell!

04-04-2012, 08:54 AM
I use a lot ofd techniques making my pictures, both on paper and computer. The need for a certain expression is often the reason to choose one specific tech to get the right look and manner.

Often the digital look is flat and cool with very little graphical interesting expression. The way of using Artrage I show here is well known and can be used in any artistic software. I use Painter exactly the same way. If you use Photoshop to paint and illustrate it is also this way you do it.

On top: the drawing, the lineart, computer made or a scanned in drawing. Blend mode: Multiply. I use Photoshop to remove white background. The Magic Eraser for simple drawings or Select Similar Colour + Delete for more complicated drawings. In Artrage I use the plugin "Kill White". I preferre to paint under the lineart to make sure the drawing is not disturbed in any way.

I paint the rest on normal layers.

The Overlay layer is used for adding a watercolour look to the entire painting. Or maybe several overlays, for different parts of the painting. One overlay is used for the jacket, another overlay for the rest of my image. Parta of overlays has to be erased. Overlays are imported by "Import as a new layer". The Overlay mode can be used in most cases. Some other Layering method might work as well. Just experiment to find out what method works the best for your image!

The attached picture shows this method in one demo illustration I made for this posting.

04-04-2012, 10:02 AM
1. This is a watercolour painting made on a paper. I scanned it for using it as an overlay watercolour pattern.

2. Here I have imported the watercolor painting into a new layer. I moved in place on top of the dress. The layering mode is changed to "Overlay".

3. I erase unwanted parts of the overlay and finetune the overlay colour in "Adjust Layer Colour" under the Edit menu.

This simple method gives parts of or entire Artrage paintings a bit more "random" and natural look. As often intended by using Artrage only. The overlay method enhances the "natural look" Artrage watercolour tool already have.

Steve B
04-04-2012, 11:03 AM
Ha! I was just posing about this technique in this forum about an hour before you made that post. Crazy! :)

I came to children's lit as a writer first, so I've been working on a building a good repertoire of stories. It's in the writerly stage that I'm working on things like page turns, the beginnings of image, etc. That sort of stuff. I'm often trying to think about what words can do better than images, and vice versa, so that each one can play to its own strength. Many writers have issues because they're not illustrators, so it's often recommended that you make dummys of your stories, just to understand pacing, page turns, how much text you're planning to put on a page, etc. I got in the habit of that, and it's been helpful in the illustrative process.

Right now, I'm sort of at the beginning of the process as an illustrator. I'm building a portfolio, drawing concepts for some of my books, etc. with the intent that I might find an agent who's interested in writer-illustrators. My blog is www.seamlessexpression.blogspot.com (http://www2.ambientdesign.com/forums/www.seamlessexpression.blogspot.com), and there I go into some of the processes I do for writing, and post some of my concept drawings. I tend to work with watercolors and pen and ink.

For the painting, I've been doing a lot in Paint Tool Sai, which is very good for building interesting ambient textures on the fly, as you paint. Artrage is still very good for blending though, and wet watercolor work, IMO. It has a host of other tools that Sai doesn't have as well, so I tend to use the two in tandem.

Your posts here were very helpful, and fun to read. I'll definitely be checking out the author you suggested. Do you have titles of books you've worked on? Or places where I might go online to see some of your work?? Say, at a publishing house or whatnot? If not, it'll be fun to see some of your sketches and work here on the forum as you start doing more personal stuff with Artrage.

04-04-2012, 07:39 PM
Soon I will publish pictures on a blog. I will start today as I have a lot of time.

You have interesting thoughts on text and picture. My thoughts on that subject are:

All text rely on the pictures.
All pictures rely on the text.
Rhyme as often as possible.
Be happy, make jokes, both verbal and graphic.
Be serious about what you want to tell.
Be serious what you paint.
Approach the Big subjects like Love, Friendship, Fear, God, Death, Sex etc. In a way children can handle, with the help of mom or dad, grandma or grandpa of course.
The pictures and the letters makes a graphic unity.
Childrens Books art is the kind of art that engages both young and old.
and...never, ever... disneyfy your pictures or texts.
These are some thoughts on pictures + text that I try to keep in mind while I work.

I will set up a blog soon and show some of my illustration art there. CU later.

SAI is a nice tool. But I stick to Painter and Artrage not to get too cunfused. I love all my traditional inks, colourpencils, crayons, gouaches, graphites as well.

04-05-2012, 04:43 AM
I love this topic. I have yet to become a published children's author/illustrator but it has been in my mind for a while now. I have much to learn and a long way to go. I enjoy the discussion you have going and will eagerly read your blogs and posts. We have an interesting community here and it is good to have you both in it.

04-06-2012, 11:41 AM
beautiful water color work Henry. I love this little killen... deep rich color. Beautiful!!! I love your drawings and the way you paint in watercolor. It reminds me of a famous illustrator Quentin Blake.


I actually like your art even more. I will be glad to buy and have your Children's book to share with my grandson when it is finished.

04-13-2012, 07:41 AM
Here is a good link to explore



04-15-2012, 08:23 PM
Here is a good link to explore http://danidraws.com/

Hi there Micmac, Fashmir, Steve B and Screenpainter. Thank's for commenting.

This Dani Jones style does not interest me much. I live in big fear of disneyfy (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/disneyfy)my style, while others do their best to get as good at it as possible.

I love a lot of other children book artists. Here are two world class illustrators that I love a lot:

Svein Nyhus (http://sveinnyhus.blogspot.se/). His blog is a good place to learn a lot from with Drawing Techniques and a Picture Book Class.

Shaun Tan (http://www.shauntan.net/). Not all for children, but he is a great storyteller and painter. The website is very good.

My favourite children storybook author and illustrator has no website or blog. Her name is Pija Lindenbaum. Adlibris online bookshop has all her books. Here is an online teaser: Siv sover vilse (http://www.adlibris.com/bookbrowser/default.aspx?culture=SV-SE&isbn=9129670039&shop=1) (Siv is lost in a dream)

04-18-2012, 09:17 PM
thank you. I love Shaun Tan website.