Our picture book PONIES IN THE PARK is coming along nicely. After many drafts, and weeks of emails and phone calls, Mary Carpenter and I feel we have a polished story.
First, we showed it to a few other readers to look over and make suggestions, (these are what writers call Beta Readers). After reviewing and discussing their critique/input we reworked the story one more time.
Next, we were ready for the pacing and page turns of the story. As the illustrator, it was my job to take the story and break it down into parts to place on each page with an illustration to help tell the story. These are called thumbnails. They are called thumbnails, because the sketches are small like a thumbnail, and very simple. (See in the picture below). Even though the pictures are rough, they are very important. The thumbnails helped us decide what angles, poses, objects and figures to include in the illustrations. It also helped us decide how much of the story to put on each page, and how to put just enough to make you, the reader, want to know what happens next, so you turn the page. This is called pacing.
When the thumbnails were completed, and the pacing was planned out, we read it out loud to make sure the story flowed, and the pacing was right. Then, we discuss what words could be cut because the illustrations were telling that part of the story. For example, we didn’t need to tell you the pony’s mane is a blue-black color, when the illustration showed you that it was.A good storyteller/writer knows It is always better to “show” than to “tell”!
We didn’t always cut words, sometimes we decided to add a few words to make the story more suspenseful, or clearer. On one page we even decided we needed to add words to the illustration (look for that page when you see the finished book).
Now, that we have the structure of the story and the illustrations decided, it is time to create what is called a dummy book. It sounds like a silly name, but it isn’t silly or even dumb. It is one of the most important steps. A dummy book is a model of our finished book. It is the entire book the size we want it to be, the font (lettering) we want, the pacing of the story, and detailed pencil drawings of the cover and illustrations on each page.
When the dummy book is finished, we will send off to our editor to review. She will find any errors we’ve missed, make suggestions, and then send it back to us to correct. Then, and only then, will it be time to recreate each page into full color finished illustrations. This part takes me the longest.
(Check back to see our progress on the dummy book and let us know if you have any suggestions.)
So, until next time use the resources, we have available, and start creating your own story and thumbnails.