Monday, 7 July 2014

Working on my first children's picture book

No updates for a little while which can only mean one of two things. I've either given up posting to a blog or I'm busy. I'm happy to say that I'm busy.
For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a full time author and illustrator of magical stories for children. Finally after far too long I've found the time, inspiration and discipline to sit down and make this happen.

My first project is a picture book. A fairly standard 26pp affair in which my lead character goes on a voyage of discovery to solve a simple problem. I'll avoid the details just now whilst I complete the book suffice to say it's full of interesting characters and funny situations.

I've deliberately tried to craft something that is of course fun for young children. I wanted something that children can not only enjoy having read to them but also participate in.
The illustrations that I have so far are cartoon-like and quite traditional in their execution. I use plenty of colour but sit the characters on a fairly clean / white background with some incidental features to help explain the scene.

I thought it might be interesting to share how I work when it comes to the art.

I'm a real nerd for sitting in a café and just sketching away. I'll draw anything from the people sat around me to the meal on my table or simply the first random thought that enters my head. I find café culture captivating and absorbing as well as romantic, of course. I'm pretty sure I was born 100 years too late.

Whilst I'm out and about I use an iPad Air with the Procreate app and Wacom's Intuos Creative Stylus.
The combination is beautiful.
I use a blank canvas at 2048 x 2048 and an HB Pencil modified to have its maximum brush size 3 or 4 times as big as the default size.
You can see the beautiful variation in the line as the pressure sensitivity of the stylus works with the app (below).

I set the colour to a mid gray. Probably around 64,64,64 in RGB terms. I then adjust the brush size slider to just below maximum and set the opacity to 100%.

Then it's all about just freely sketching out some ideas. I'm not trying to produce anything of production quality here. I just want to capture my thoughts and transfer them to Corel Painter on the Mac to complete the image.
To do this I use Procreate's export functionality to copy the image to Dropbox.

Procreate lets you upload the file in PSD if you want to preserve the layers for use on the desktop. This is useful for sure but I generally just upload as JPG since I'm only going to use the sketch for reference.


Then back at base it's time to fire up the Mac, Painter X3 and the Wacom Cintiq.
I know I'm showing off here but I use the 22HD Touch from Wacom and it's just gorgeous. Everything about it is quality. The drawing experience, the painting, the responsiveness. It's all stunning.
I create a 20x20cm image in Painter and import the sketch from Dropbox to use as my base layer. I use the "Real 2B Pencil" in the Painter brushes palette to add some details and generally refine the sketch.


Then it's down to a combination of pens and pastels to add the lines and detail.
I start off working with quite broad strokes and then enjoy adding the smaller details.

It's a process that I really do love and for me combines my two great passions - drinking and watching the world go by & relaxing with some music whilst I draw and paint.

I'm about 50% done on the book just now. The words are complete, the layout is defined and most sketches are done. Exciting times.


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