In 2016 between projects I decided to write and illustrate a children’s picture book. For years I was inspired by my kid’s conversation. Now I was ready to take all their funny one-liners and turn them into a book – I wrote over fifty stories before selecting three that had potential.
Creating the book was great escapism and fun. I learned new skills; how to edit and relearned how to draw – I took some drawing classes and put pen-to-paper. I mixed pencil with paint and texture with photoshop. I learned how to make digital brushes and combined everything to create new illustration styles which I wouldn’t have discovered without this fresh zest for sketching.
The writing part was a learning curve but was the least of my worries. Illustrating the pages to feel like they depicted the characters and the world they inhabited was a much more significant challenge than I expected.
I tried out different approaches over several months. Sometimes I would write parts of the story and then illustrate them, other times drawing my ideas came first and I would write around them. My illustration progressed more when I was illustrating to the actual story. I thought more about how I had described the characters, asking myself if the character felt quirky enough or sad enough, was the beard or the arms creating the right gesture and mood, was the environment detracting from the characters and how did the composition affect the editorial design of the book. I also had to consider the pace of the book similarly to how I would design brochures for clients. All the pages had to feel very different to appear exciting, but they needed to be consistent with the illustration style of the book.
Once I had the book ready, right down to creating the artwork and publishing templates, I still needed to find an agent. Yep, I decided upon the agent route, I wanted to do this right. I had spent so long on the book that I needed the experts to be able to take it to the next level and publishing. 6 months on and I am still looking for representation. I prepared myself for how difficult this could be but each time I receive a rejection letter I have to tell myself that it’s not right for them and that it will be right for someone out there. To be continued…
Fig. 1: The final design.
Fig. 2: Concept sketch.
Fig. 3: Working on the illustration style.
Fig. 4: After completing the first draft I was invited to do a book reading.
All illustration on this page is copyright © 2017 Mark Woodward. All rights reserved.
Written by Mark Woodward.