There are many different ways to go about
crafting a picture book. This is an
example of my process.

1. How It Starts
It starts with a phone call from an editor. They have a manuscript that they think I would be perfect for, would I be interested. We discuss the basic story line, terms of the contract and the schedule for the project. I am then faxed or e-mailed a copy of the story. After one reading I know whether I want to do the project. I then call the editor and we nail down any last details, and I go to work....

2. The Manuscript
3. The Layout 4. The Sketches
I read the text over and over again, picking out details and visual clues given by the author. I look for anything that might imply time of day, season, passage of time, as well as, character and environmental details. Sometimes as I read a text images come to mind. I often sketch them in the margins.

Usually by the end of a project the manuscript is covered in sketches, notes, and assorted markings.
The average picture book is 32 pages long. There are 3 to 4 pages that are taken up with "front matter", which is the title page, copyright and dedication. This generally leaves you with 14 spreads (2 facing pages) to work with. This can vary depending on the length of the text and whether or not you wish to design end papers.

Generally it is left to me to divide the text between the 14 spreads in a way that enhances the pacing of the text. I will then block out the layout on a single sheet of paper creating a sort of map for the project. Using the text as my guide I will decide the size and placement of the images: spread, single, 3/4 or a spot. Sometimes they choice is made by the amount of text that needs to accommodated, other times it is made for the emotional impact.

In some cases certain aspects of the layout are dictated by the publisher.
I often stay in contact with the editor and/or art director throughout the layout process. Usually during this time I will describe the approach I intend to take with the text, and will often describe some of the images I have been thinking of.

I have discovered that I am somewhat unique in that I do most of my sketching in my head. When I am ready I will sit down and create a relatively tight line drawing sketch.

I do not work sequentially rather I start with the strongest ideas and work my way around the project. This is where having the layout "map" is very useful. It helps me to keep track of the project. Once the sketches for the entire project are completed I send copies of them off to the publisher for approval.

5. The Transfer 6. The Taping 7. The Spraying
Once any revisions have been made and the sketches have been approved, it is time to transfer the sketch to the paper that will be used for the finished art. There are many ways to go about this from transfer paper to printing it out on your computer from a scan. I personally am very fond of the light table. It is very clean and gives me a lot of control over line quality. I tend to leave a 1 to 2 inch salvage edge on my pieces. Once I have transferred the drawing and refined the line work, I tape off the edges using a low tack painters tape. In the image above I am using blue painters tape, however, I have since found that the lavender painters tape works even better. Both can be found in hardware similar type stores. Because I use oil glazes I need to seal the paper so that it doesn't soak up the oils. I don't use the classic surfaces for oil glaze technique, because for reproduction artwork generally needs to be on a flexible surface so that is can be scanned on a drum scanner.

Please note that I use a Spray Room with a powerful exhaust fan and a high end mask with replaceable filters when spraying.

8. The Painting 9. The End
Once the spray sealer has dried thoroughly, I began layering oil glazes that I then blot with toilet paper and manipulate with cotton swabs and toothpicks for different effects. I will frequently spray a thin layer of sealer between glaze layers in order to keep colors from blending. Once the painting is finished I will spray a final layer of sealer to protect the completed piece. And there you have it. There can be anywhere from 14 to 18 (+) images created for a single book. The entire process can take anywhere from 6 months to a year or more to complete. It can then take an additional year or more for the book to be printed and released.

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