All posts tagged Stages of a book

Beaver Rotation

Three beaver from the book Porcupine in a Pine Tree

On the Third Day of Christmas my true love gave to me….Three Beaver Tails!

Beaver Tails?  I’m sure it was those tasty treats that are made in Ottawa and not anything from those busy dam or tree building creatures.

It actually makes me want to have one right now!

But since it’s beaver I thought it would be good to share how  I draw them.

If you’re in a hurry, here’s the video  How to draw Beaver  but I hope you will read on as I share a few helpful tips.

 

Step 1: use reference

Look at beaver in pictures or on video.  Your character can end up quite different but it helps to study the real animal.

I’ve even drawn their skeletons.  The look like monsters. In fact at one time they were a lot bigger and probably acted like monsters.

Beaver Skeleton

Beaver skeletons look like monsters.

Step 2: Doodle 

This is the fun part.

 

Beaver sketch

It’s good to just doodle loosely to get a feeling of your characters without worrying about details or even whether or not they will be the final ones.

 

beaver studies in colour

It’s fun to throw colour on your doodles to explore what is possible.

Step 3: Construction advice

Construction advice on how to draw a beaver

Always start from the simple and build to the final. It’s like constructing anything.

 

It’s good to turn your characters to see them from all sides. Remember to Keep It Simple, Silly and not worry how great it is.  It’s better to do more and explore than a few and be critical of your work.

If it’s not fun, it’s not worth doing.

Enjoy Drawing Beaver!

How to draw a Beaver video

Screenshot from how to draw a beaver

 

 

I love showing process.

As a reader you get to see the final work.  That’s the most important piece of course, but if you’re an artist or illustrator, or just like peeking behind the creative curtain an seeing what happened up to that final piece, I’m with you.  I’ve always loved seeing the stuff that happened before.  And if possible, I love getting into the mind of the creator through their letters or notes.

But here I just want to show you a small bit of what went into Dashing Through the Snow.

The first image is the final painting from one of the last pages of the book.  The only thing missing is the text.  I don’t put that in.  The art director at Scholastic does that.  I’m happy she does, since my printing isn’t that great.  I prefer writing script.

Final Painting in the process

The last present is always the biggest surprise

The painting is of the opening of the very last present that fell from Santa’s Sleigh.  I needed to get all the characters in, and yet add a bit of fun to the suspense.

Below is the drawing on the watercolour sheet.  There were many rougher drawings before this one.

I admit it’s a bit messy.  That gets cleaned up when I ink it.

Once it is inked I start to paint.  The picture below is of 4 paintings being done at the same time.  I do that so that I make sure my colours don’t change from picture to picture.  That’s a very easy thing since I can start getting very creative with new possibilities and add new colours.   So that they have some reference I have a practice picture leaning up on my table.  I try to make all my mistakes in the practice pictures, but mistakes do happen.  And then it’s back to a new stretched sheet of paper and start all over again.

A book can have 18 spreads like this so making sure you got your mistakes out of the way can save a lot of time.

I hope to offer reproductions of this and other images soon.  Originals are available.

You can get  Hard and Soft Cover and Board Book from your favorite independent book store or Chapters Indigo.

Cover of Dashing Through the Snow

Happy Singing this Christmas!

Well, I suppose ‘easy’ isn’t the right way to describe it, but when illustrating a story, there are a few steps that must be taken.  I’m using the images here from an exhibition I once put together called ‘From the Inside Out: stages in the making of a Book.’

From the Inside Out: Stages in a Picture Book

For this I’ve taken examples from ‘In My Backyard’  written by John DeVries and illustrated by yours truly.  I admit I’ve chosen it because for it, just as I am doing currently, I drew a frog.

Step 1:  divide the story so that it will fit into the number of pages for a book.  This is important because for cost reasons and simplicity of printing and cutting up the pages, picture books are generally either 24 or 32 pages.   I don’t think there are many people who would like to buy a book with the end missing, or a bunch of empty pages at the end  unless I suppose you got to draw in them.  Some stories are easy to divide up, but others take a lot of thinking on what page which words will go. Sometimes a page has no words at all.  If you’re doing a book,  give this a lot of thought.

Step 2:  Characters (or places).   Most books will have characters.  It’s very important to take time to know your character.   Taking time to sketch your character from every possible angle and view, and every possible expression is valuable.  No one wants a character to change from page to page, unless of course that’s part of the story.  Keeping your character the same is a challenge and takes practice regardless how simple or complex.

Step 3:  Rough linears.  They are called that for two reasons:  1) they are rough, and 2) they are just lines.    This is important.  Never get into details too soon.  This stage is when you sketch out your ideas for the whole book, not just individual pictures.  You want to work fast, small, and therefore quite rough.  If you put too much detail in at this time you will be hesitant to want to toss the drawing or make changes should there be a problem with any particular drawing fitting in to the overall story and look of the book.

Remember, it’s a book, and not just one page you are drawing.

Oh, I forgot to add, and never forget this: this is when you decide where the words will be in the pictures.  It is important that you consider the words a part of the picture, and not an afterthought.

Step 4:  Clean linears.   This is when you clean it up before you put on any colour .   This is when you can finally put in all the details you want.  In fact, this is when you decide what will be in the picture and what stays out: NO ADDING AFTER THIS!  No kidding, this is when all the decisions about design other than colour are finalized.  If you don’t, you will only have horrible confusion and a lot of tears later.  Well, maybe not so bad, but if you make changes after this, it truly can be confusion and tears.  I write from experience.  Trust me.

Step 5:  Paint!  Yes, this is when you can have fun and splash and toss and smear and….Ouch!  I didn’t say that, did I?    Yes you get to paint or use whatever technique you want, but at this point you should have everything figured  out so that there won’t be any surprises.  And yes, there will be, but that’s part of the fun.

Good luck!  Enjoy!

p.s.  you may have noticed that one of the sketches in the book ended up not only in the book but also the cover.  It doesn’t always happen that way, but when it does, Bonus!  You get some time off to go play.