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Hurrah! I have exciting news! I talked with editor Liz Cross and our team at Oxford University Press, and asked them if I could blog the whole process of making my very first illustrated chapter book, Oliver and the Seawigs, with Philip Reeve. ...And they said YES!

Usually publishers get nervous about doing this; they're worried other people will rip off their idea, or it will give away the big reveal at the publishing date. But the Seawigs team are up for it, and I think people like to see how a book is made. The process will have the added drama that I'll be discovering things along with you; I'm still trying to figure out how this book will look! So sometimes I'll make mistakes, and sometimes I may change things before they go into the printed book, but I think it will be fun. ...Possibly nerve-wracking at times.

So here we go! The first thing I always like to do for any kind of story is figure out how the main characters will look. Meet Oliver Crisp and his explorer parents. Mr & Mrs Crisp didn't let having a baby stop them from exploring, they just threw Oliver in the pack and kept going. So Oliver doesn't know what it's like to have his own bedroom or go to school... sometimes he thinks it might be kind of nice to have a place to call his own.

Philip and I named them the Crisps, because Philip wears a linen suit in the summer and I told him he looked very crisp in it. He thought that was a good word. Mr Crisp looks a little bit like my dad, who absolutely loves mountain climbing. I grew up in Seattle, at the base of Mr Rainier, and when I was 15, my dad made me train in mountaineering so that I'd be able to climb the mountain when I turned 16, his coming-of-age benchmark. (You're not legally allowed to climb the mountain before you're 16.) Dad's ears kind of stick out like that, too, they're very cute. And I have to draw Mrs Crisp with a bear trap in her rucksack, it's our family equivalent to 'the whole kitchen sink'. There's this great shop near my parents' house called McLendon's Hardware, and my dad always says that you can get anything there, even a bear trap. The Crisps would like that shop.

Oops, I really ought to clean off my desk. Here are the first thumbnail drawings. I wasn't quite sure how to start; I usually make picture books and they have a very tight 32-page grid, and every page needs filling up. With this book, there's a bit more freedom, not every page will have illustrations and the length can vary a little bit. Here's the first thumbnail sketch, it's pretty basic:

Yesterday I e-mailed my thumbnails into Liz and another editor named Clare Witston and head of design, Jo Cameron. I'm not quite sure what I'm doing with the layouts yet, but it felt good to get a whole book full of vague possibilities bashed out. While I'm waiting for them to get back to me about the thumbnails, I'm going to start on the pencil roughs. They may need to change when I hear from the team, but at least I can start getting a sense of what the book could look like. Here's the first one:

I'm going to be able to add one colour (a 'tone') to the hardcover luxury version of the book, which will be grey when it's printed in paperback. So even on the rough, I thought I'd play around with some tone. I had a lot of fun drawing this, I think the tree could look pretty cool when I draw it in ink, fingers crossed. That space on the left might have the chapter heading, or it might be room for a dedication; we'll see.

NOW IT'S YOUR TURN! Hey, here's a little something, if you want to do some drawing and colouring. I want to put some awesome wigs in this book, and drawing fancy hairdos is such good fun. Some of Marie Antoinette's wigs even had ships in them! So here's a version of Iris the mermaid, without hair, you can add your own! And if you like, you can give her amazing fish scales, and Philip a hot-pink overcoat with little ducks printed all over it, or something like that. Oh! Here are some wig ideas from my Monsterville exhibition at the Discover centre, I loved those wigs.
Click here or on the image for a larger, printable version! And if you like, leave a link in the comments so I can see what you've drawn, I'll be very curious. All ages welcome! :)



( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 13th, 2012 03:54 pm (UTC)
Sarah! Amazing! :D I couldn't NOT do a wig drawing during my lunch break at work today! :D I've not had time to colour it, but I think that'll be something nice to do over a wet weekend! - I love the sound of this project - and your development work is really interesting (Your desk isn't that messy! Mine's worse!)

I've posted my drawing on my blog at:

Jul. 13th, 2012 08:50 pm (UTC)
Jul. 13th, 2012 10:34 pm (UTC)
Hurrah! A bouffant! :D
Jul. 13th, 2012 09:29 pm (UTC)
When I draw, it's rarely more than little scribbles the size of a post-it note, but I got a an idea and then I had to do it.

Not so much a sea wig as some sort of... sea fez ? Or something like that ?

Jul. 13th, 2012 10:34 pm (UTC)
Oo, that's very stylish! I can imagine that headgear on the catwalk, or possibly in a Pet Shop Boys video. Cool! :D
Jul. 14th, 2012 07:56 pm (UTC)
At last!
Finally, I am able to know what you are doing and watch you develop your illustrations for a book. Do thank your editors and publisher for me. This will be great fun.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


Sarah McIntyre

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