@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.”



takes us through his creative process with an inside look at the making of FLOWERS ARE CALLING (in stores yesterday!).

IMAGE 1: It all starts with good, easy sketches and doodles. Nothing serious!

IMAGE 2: Each book I do is a little different. For this one, I did a lot of early work on the computer, like this…

IMAGE 3: …and this. Notice how some of the early art is almost finished and other art is still very loose. I also integrate the words at this stage.

IMAGE 4: I sketched a lot of flower and animal studies to get that right balance between something that looks real and something fun.

IMAGE 5: I then made a lot of watercolor sketches like this…

IMAGE 6: Then, all together , you get final art!


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.


Thanks to Cece Bell for taking us behind the scenes of her new picture book, I YAM A DONKEY!

Image 1: Very rough story boarding in the beginning

Image 2: Color samples

Image 3: and more color samples!

Image 4: Figuring out page breaks

Image 5: Early rough on cardboard

Image 6: Cover roughs

Image 7: Experimenting with acrylics and vellum

Image 8: Painted text was pain in the bee-hind, so I later created my own font based on these letter forms.


A behind the scenes look at the making of MUSTACHE BABY MEETS HIS MATCH with illustrator Joy Ang.

IMAGE 1:   Here’s an initial sketch that I send to my editor. It’s drawn digitally with Photoshop using a Cintiq (A tablet monitor).

IMAGE 2:     Once the sketch is approved, I move directly to coloring the pages, which is also done in Photoshop. Here you can see the blocks of colors I lay down for the background.

IMAGE 3:     Next, I paint the foreground elements.

IMAGE 4:     Finally, I add in the last bits of detail and play around with the lighting to bring focus to certain characters and/or objects.


EGG by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page is in stores this week! Here’s a look at the making of the book.

IMAGE 1 (Observing the Subjects): We read books about eggs — lots of books. Some were books for children, some for adult readers. We also did research on the internet. And we visited zoos and natural history museums, taking notes and photos of anything related to animal eggs. We collected information and images from all of these sources, then made small prints of the eggs we were thinking of using in the book.    

IMAGE 2 (Putting Ideas to Paper - Thumbnail Sketching): Our books begin with pages of little sketches known as thumbnails. These sketches are quick and rough, which makes it easy to try out a lot of ideas in a short time. We often make dozens of thumbnail layouts for a book, experimenting with different layouts and sequences. Finished sketches of each subject serve as templates for the final illustrations.    

IMAGE 3 (Writing It Out - Composing the Text): The text for Egg began as a series of lists and notes written by hand in a notebook. These jottings evolved into rough text, also written by hand. I prefer this medium to the computer at the beginning of the writing process. Rough text on a screen looks too finished, and I find it difficult to throw ideas out and start over. Eventually, I do type the text into a computer program, print it out, and edit it by hand. Then the text goes to our editor, who makes comments and corrects spelling and grammar. By the time the text is finalized, it’s been through a dozen or more drafts.    

IMAGE 4 (Making a Sketch): The illustrations in Egg are cut-and-torn paper collage, but they start out as a pencil sketch. This sketch will be used as a template for cutting out the pieces of color paper, which will be assembled into a final illustration.    

IMAGE 5 (Choosing the Right Paper): Now it’s time to pick the papers I’ll use in my collage. These are a few of the papers for the image of a chicken hatching.    

IMAGE (End Result): Voila! Here’s the final illustration.    

IMAGE 7 (Inputting Illustrations Into the Layout): We designed the book using InDesign, a computer desktop publishing program. The illustrations are scanned and placed on the pages and the text is copied from a manuscript and added to the layout. The finished file is called a digital mechanical. Then we print out each page on a color printer. The printouts are trimmed, folded, and bound into a dummy — a handmade book that shows us how the finished volume is going to look.    

IMAGE 8 (Creating the Mechanical): The final digital file with all images and text in place — the mechanical — is delivered to the publisher. There an art director and copy editor check it over, then send it to the printer. The illustrations are converted into a pattern of tiny dots that are either cyan (blue), magenta (pink), yellow, or black. These dots combine to make all of the colors and detail in a printed illustration. Sheets of paper are passed through a large printing press, where the four colors are laid down one at a time. Finally, the sheets are put in order, bound together, and a cover is attached.    

IMAGE 9 (A Book is Made!): A little more than two years after starting work on the book, we get our first finished copy of Egg.