Tuesday, 19 February 2013

How a Picture Book is Born

I was planning to write about the process of creating a picture book for a while.... I finally have a good example to illustrate all stages of this process. When I was starting out as an illustrator I desperately wanted somebody to share this information with me! Now I hope it will be useful to you!

It all starts with a test-drawing!!! If a Publisher doesn't have a suitable Illustrator for their story they usually ask an Art Agency to help. Art agency offers a few candidates from their lists and the Publisher chooses a couple to do a trial drawing. Usually the artists are asked to illustrate a page, or a spread, or some characters from the book. The Publisher wants to see how the artists "see" the story, how they interpret it and whether their approach is suitable and close to what they have in mind.

So, this time I was given the text for the story and was asked to illustrate the first spread. I loved the story! It was very hilarious!!!  Here is what I drew:

A few days later I got an e-mail saying that I got the job and I can proceed to the next stage.

The next stage is usually the work on the main characters. Although I drew them already, they were not quite right.... The Publisher asked me to develop them a bit further... I had to come up with different personalities and features for all of them.

Here is my final version of the monster family:

I had a few ideas for Pet Itch, so I drew several for the Publisher to choose their favourite:

After the main characters are finished and agreed on, I usually need to draw a couple of finished illustrations that can go in all the catalogues and advertising material. The book is put on the virtual shelf not when it is finished, but when it is started! 

In this case we decided to redraw the first spread amending the mane characters plus do one more drawing from the middle of the book which shows Pet Itch in all his glory!

So, here is the result:

Now when the marketing material is out of the way, I can concentrate on producing the sketches for the whole book. Some-times the Publisher decides where to put the text on the page, sometimes it is left to the Artist. This time it was a bit of both and I had a relative freedom to draw what I wanted and how I saw it. And that is the best way if you ask me!!! 

This book was a real pleasure to illustrate. I was laughing out loud while drawing! It was just so funny and quirky and I had a lot of fun imagining and sketching the pictures! I never even noticed when all the sketches were finished! They looked something like this:

The sketches were sent back to the Publisher to be checked and commented on. It is a usual practice to make any necessary amendments at this stage, before the illustrations go to colour. I patiently wait for the Publisher's respond and tweak  the drawings according to their comments to make sure that everyone is happy with them.

The next stage is colouring in!!!! And it is not done yet!!! I have another month to go before I have to submit the final illustrations! I will most definitely show you the drawings in colour and tell you what happens next - how the book is put together, published and advertised and how it ends up on the shelves....

That's of course if you want to know...

If you have any questions regarding the whole process - just ask! I will be happy to answer!


  1. The whole process is so thrilling!!! I love the way you draw!! Especially when it gets colour!!!

  2. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences! The book looks fabulous...can't wait to see the rest in color!

  3. Elina, you've done a great job! It is beautiful, even monsters in your drawings are :)
    Keep up your talent!

  4. Hello Elina,
    Thank you for share this. I love the monsters and yes I'm definitely interested in how it goes.. :)

  5. Какие зубастики замечательные =)

  6. Thank you . sooo interesting process.

  7. Love your art! SO fascinating to read about the process of your work!!! Do you fix your art work in digital version, how correctly to scan the illustrations? I have problems with this:)

  8. Amazing! Thanks for sharing this post with us, I didn't miss a single word! Cute little monsters you came up with!!!

    Hugs from italy, alex

  9. Thanks Elina for your lovely comments on the story! You've done a fantastic job with the illustrations; I couldn't hope for better. I do hope we can meet one day x

    1. Hi Elli, great to hear from you! The book was hilarious! I loved it! And the illustrations came easily! I am very glad you liked them! It was a great pleasure working on this project! Lets hope the book will do great!!! Ad hopefully meet you for the presentation!