August 16th, 2012

seawigs part 3: thumbnail sketches

Hey, do you recognise this Explorermobile from a previous post? I went with the silliest version, but man, isn't it cute? Just wait til I've inked it up. It's kind of hard to see in scribbly pencil here.

So what am I working on right now? Well, this is the first time I've ever illustrated a chapter book instead of a picture book (Oliver and the Seawigs, with Philip Reeve), and I've been trying to get my head around the differences between the two formats. With a picture book, it seems pretty straightforward: I have 32 pages (including covers) and I need to fill up every single page with pictures. (Unless I am the super-cheeky Viviane Schwarz and can get away with leaving THREE SPREADS blank (or nearly blank, after editing). And still get nominated for the Greenaway medal. See There are NO Cats in This Book, below.)

But with this Seawigs chapter book, there's more flexibility in the number of pages, and how many pages I illustrate. I want lots and lots of illustrations, but I have to think of how they will work best with the story - not to overwhelm it - and also consider how much time I have to work on the book. I didn't really know where to start - there's no official way to do it - so I started drawing tiny versions of some pages I thought could appear in the book, and submitted them to my editor, Clare Whitston. (I have two editors, and a designer, but they were all on holiday and Clare was manning the fort at Oxford University Press.) Here's a sample page. There's a gap where I drew one but didn't like it and couldn't be bothered to shuffle everything around. Things are changing a bit as I take these tiny thumbnail drawings to full-page-size pencil sketches; you can compare the third thumbnail here with the next-stage pencil sketch at the top of this blog post.

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