The other day, I met this lovely and kind children’s book illustrator who was struggling with the book she was working on:
“I know it’s supposed to be simple, but it’s hard to draw what’s in my mind.”
Wait. What is simple about drawing and painting a children’s book?
Just because it’s a book written for children it doesn’t mean it’s supposed to be simple.
…or easy. And certainly not fast.
I could go on this rant forever (if you could see the chunks of text I deleted…) but in order to keep it focused and hopefully helpful, here are some breakthroughs I had while creating my first book:
1. All About That Reference
Reference is crucial to making great pieces of art. And no, reference is not cheating. Studies and sketches are needed in order to create your version of what you want to depict. From fantastic beasts like dragons, to a pillow, everything needs the right reference.
2. Thumbnail It All
More often than not, the idea you have in your mind isn’t your best. Grab some sheets of paper and cheap markers, draw a bunch of small rectangles and thumbnail away! Small keeps us from noodling and cheap materials remove the feeling of preciousness.
3. Thumbnail One More Time
Yes, more! Chances are, when you exhaust your first thoughts, you’ll start coming up with ideas you’d never thought of before.
Also, a good thing to keep in mind: when you put all your chosen thumbnails together, how does that affect the flow of the story?
4. I Can See Colors Now
What colors will enhance the story you’re telling? You never know until you try out multiple options with…. Yep, you got it! More thumbnails!
All of these steps will help us get our art where we want it. The art won’t show up magically. You will struggle and feel stuck. Yes, it will be hard and challenging, frustrating even, but I believe that’s why it’s so fun.
…and just because a book seems simple, it doesn’t mean that creating it was that easy.
What Do You Think?
Do you have a favorite process when it comes to creating art? Or any children’s book rants you’d like to share?
Let’s talk about it in the comment section!