Next up in our Picture Book Parade, is Have You Heard the Nesting Bird? by Rita Gray, illustrated by pandagun. Here, we see some of Ken’s process—make sure you check out the final product in stores tomorrow!

In Ken’s words:

Image 1:  I first make random doodles in my sketchbook and work with a favorite. My process is organic, and I rarely follow through an original idea.

Image 2: In Photoshop I design the birds, and whatever basic ideas come my way. I originally wanted a branch in this spread.

Image 3: Here’s the near final spread with the children. The kids were introduced half way after the initial dummy book was prepared!

Image 4: Again, an example from the old sketchbook!

Image 5: I first made space for another bird…

Image 6: then changed my mind. This is an example of how I design the space with the text in mind. Rita Gray’s writing is vital, so in spirit and visual cue requires a good design. This is something new for me because you rarely see text as an on screen, cinematic element. I change my mind again, and try Wood Thrush alongside Robin.

Image 7: I want Robin to get her own spreads, but I need to have Wood Thrush in this spread (I ran out of pages). I decide not to have the birds compete against each other by placing a larger Robin coming from the corner top. Her dark value hides her in the shadow, so at first look the composition is about Wood Thrush. After closer inspection, Robin becomes dominant because of her scale and shade.


@Brianone gave us a behind the scenes look at the making of his new picture book, HOORAY FOR HAT! Comments from Brian below. What do you think?

Images 1 and 2 (Grumpy Turtle): I’ve heard several illustrator friends complain about how difficult it is to draw horses. Zebras are horses with stripes. I saved drawing Zebra for last, wrestling with proportion and the mundane task of adding stripes. In the sketch version, I like his short and stubby legs but decided he looked too much like a miniature pony. For the final color image, Zebra looks more horse-like and points to his hat with his hoof. My brilliant editor suggested Turtle should be tucked completely into his shell, facing away from his friends.

Images 3 and 4 (Present): This is the initial black-and-white digital “sketch” of a spread, along with an early version of the text. I placed Owl on the other page, but felt he looked lonely and a bit useless. In the final color image and revised text, I spaced everyone across the spread while being aware of the gutter down the middle of the page. Owl helps with the packing but does not overextend himself.

Images 5 and 6 (Happy Giraffe): Various giraffe happy faces I created while working out Giraffe’s expression for the book’s grand finale. In the final color image, I decided on the gap-tooth smile. I found it to be the most joyful of all the explorations. The French phrase for gap teeth is “dents du bonheur” literally translating to “lucky teeth.”


We’re taking you behind the scenes with Theodor Seuss Geisel Award-winner Josh Schneider! Here are some early sketches from his new picture book, PRINCESS-SPARKLE HEART GETS A MAKEOVER. Hear from Josh below about his creative process.

Image 1: One day when I was on the bus, I had an idea for a book about a little girl who needs to fix her princess doll. I worked out the story in my head until the buss had taken me somewhere with a pen and paper, and then I sketched all the pictures for the story I had come up with. Unfortunately, no one could tell what these pictures were, so I had a lot more work to do.

Image 2: The first picture I worked on was of the little girl having a tea party with her princess doll and another stuffed animal. I drew the little girl and the princess doll and the stuffed animal and the tea party stuff, but when I was finished, I didn’t like how the little girl and princess doll and the stuffed animal looked (although I was pretty happy with the tea party stuff). So I started over.

Image 3: I came up with a new little girl and a new princess doll and a new stuffed animal that I liked a lot better. I combined them with the old tea party stuff. Now I was ready to move to the final art.

Image 4:
I took the tea party drawing that I had just finished in my sketchbook and drew it again on watercolor paper. First, I drew it in pencil, then I went over everything in ink, and then, finally, I painted it all with watercolors.