So as I said in a previous post. My love of books runs deep and I hope to publish a children’s book before I am thirty (or even twenty five… but let’s be realistic). My first step into the world of children’s publishing happened at university doing a class assignment to, well, illustrate a children’s book.
For this task I chose the below poem, an old famous Australian piece from 1889 by Banjo Patterson.
I had written him a letter which I had, for want of better
Knowledge, sent to where I met him down the Lachlan, years ago,
He was shearing when I knew him, so I sent the letter to him,
Just "on spec", addressed as follows: "Clancy, of The Overflow".
And an answer came directed in a writing unexpected,
(And I think the same was written in a thumbnail dipped in tar)
'Twas his shearing mate who wrote it, and verbatim I will quote it:
"Clancy's gone to Queensland droving, and we don't know where he are."
In my wild erratic fancy visions come to me of Clancy
Gone a-droving "down the Cooper" where the western drovers go;
As the stock are slowly stringing, Clancy rides behind them singing,
For the drover's life has pleasures that the townsfolk never know.
And the bush hath friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him
In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended,
And at night the wondrous glory of the everlasting stars.
I am sitting in my dingy little office, where a stingy
Ray of sunlight struggles feebly down between the houses tall.
And the foetid air and gritty of the dusty, dirty city
Through the open window floating, spreads its foulness over all.
And in place of lowing cattle, I can hear the fiendish rattle
Of the tramways and the buses making hurry down the street,
And the language uninviting of the gutter children fighting,
Comes fitfully and faintly through the ceaseless tramp of feet.
And the hurrying people daunt me, and their pallid faces haunt me
As they shoulder one another in their rush and nervous haste.
With their eager eyes and greedy, and their stunted forms and weedy,
For townsfolk have no time to grow, they have no time to waste.
And I somehow fancy that I'd like to change with Clancy,
Like to take a turn at droving where the seasons come and go,
While he faced the round eternal of the cashbook and the journal -
But I doubt he'd suit the office, Clancy, of "The Overflow”.
Now I had chosen the text all I had to do was draw pictures to match right?
Wrong. The first stage of forming a children’s book is to figure out a style of illustration that suits the manuscript. Then from their we work out the book dimensions, pagination and determine what text would be represented on each page. From here we have a good foot to start off the book making process.
Here we step into one of the most fun and possibly most frustrating parts of illustrating the book. Thumbnails and storyboarding. This process is the laying out of miniature pages and spreads (2 pages laying open flat is a spread) and figuring out which illustration goes where, how the illustrations flow from one to the next to tell a story and how your overall book will look. The focus for me is to first figure out the page contents. then revise the story boards to work out the best illustration flow and the very important text placement/typography. I will then go over my story boards a third time to work out colour palettes and thematic connections across the pages that will bring continuity to the story.
Below is a quick story board in mockup situ I used for this project.
After all the story boards are in place let the real work begin. Illustrating your book. This normally consists of 32 full colour pages filled with your work.
Below are pictured a collection of my original paintings for this book.
Now as this is my first book of course I made a couple mistakes. My biggest one? forgetting to leave enough blank space within my illustration for my text to be placed into. I was crushed. I had spent so much time working on these illustrations and now I couldn’t even fit them into my book. However I had a solution. Unlike with a published book I had full control of this project and so I change the page size of my book to allow for a spread layer much like that of ‘Polar Express’ where my illustrations sit in the centre of the page with outer margins of text. See below the final layout.
I fell in love with creating children’s books and so immediately enrolled into an english class for my next term called ‘Children's Literature’ so I could learn everything I could about the art of books for children.
Although this book has not been published, I am very excited to have found a passion and be well on the path to publishing one of my illustrated books.
This was a very exciting first step into a new passion.