Illustration Wednesday

To an outsider, my work methods may seem a little manic. It could look like I flicker between projects with no rhyme or reason, but it’s not true. Having several projects on the go at once not only helps me to stay fresh, but also provides me with time to think. I’ve learnt that much of writing and illustrating is thinking – allowing the stories and characters space / time to grow in my mind.

For instance, recently I drew little Piggy-Wilikins for the first time, simply to get him out of my head, but his story hasn’t arrived yet so afterwards I moved onto the next project. I know when I return I will have a story for him. The next project was the new rabbit story I mentioned below. I’d written a few drafts of the story and had some basic character sketches, and was finally ready to do the character designing (some of which you can see below). With that done, it’s not quite ready to be put to a storyboard yet as I want the story in my head a little longer, so I set it aside and took up the next project. So now I’ve gone back to a story that’s been around for a while – one I storyboarded out a few months back. I’ve just started the final art, which has to be my favourite part, watching the book appear in front of my eyes.

The other stories are still there, comfortably seated in my subconscious, mingling and growing and preparing themselves for the next stage. They’ll let me know when they’re ready.

12 Responses to “Illustration Wednesday”

  1. 1 Karen Tyrrell February 24, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    Hi Katherine,
    When I spotted your bear-rabbit I giggled uncontrollably. I also loved your bunny-with-carrot. Wishing you Happy Bunny wishes for your illustrations and new stories. Cheers, Karen :))

  2. 2 Joanna Gaudry February 24, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    A wonderful process, Katherine, and adorable illustrations.

  3. 3 kathleen noud February 24, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    I so know what you’re talking about. There is a method to my madness and for the most part, it’s steeped in instinct.

    It looks like you’ve got your mojo back, Kath :)

  4. 4 Jeffery E Doherty February 24, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    I agree Katherine,
    You need to have more than one project in the mix. I always have a couple of writing projects in the planning and development stage. I’m doing the final editing of my chapter book and well into the first draft of a Mid Grade novel. I also have a number of art projects happening to. (A portrait commission and a couple of leaf paintings).

    If you see one project through to the very end before starting the next you lose writing time while you do the plot and character development for the next one.


  5. 5 Dee White February 25, 2010 at 3:56 am


    Of course you know that anything to do with rabbits has me totally hooked,but those pics are gorgeous.

    I’m not an illustrator and I don’t write PBs, but I totally understand how you work.

    I always work on a number of projects at a time – and I think it’s what helps me to avoid writer’s block. If a character from one book has decided to stop speaking to me, then one from another story usually leaps into my head and says, “Tell my story instead.”

    Can’t wait to see your next book.


  6. 6 Katherine Battersby February 25, 2010 at 9:50 am

    Karen – glad to see someone shares my quirky sense of humour :)

    Jeffery and Dee – I work that way with my novels too. Moving between drafts and projects is the only way I can get enough distance from my writing to see what is and isn’t working.

  7. 7 Cat Pluchino March 4, 2010 at 10:20 am

    Deep sigh. I am sooo glad that I found you all, excuse me for being such a new-bie. I reside in Bedminster, New Jersey and was doing a search this evening for a class in writing and illustrating children’s books and came across this wonderful blog.

    I am looking for classes or a focus group or even one evening to meet at Borders and discuss with a creative and inspiring group the process of illustrating and writing children’s books.

    If anyone is interested please let me know ~ or can advise …
    With kindest thanks,

  8. 8 Katherine Battersby March 5, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    Hi Cat. Thanks for your lovely words about my blog. I stopped by your site and your illustration work is just gorgeous. I will e-mail you about finding people to meet up with – it is so important in this industry to find other passionate and creative people to be around.

  9. 9 Lynn Priestley March 8, 2010 at 9:42 am

    I totally understand what you mean about the character coming first. My sketch book is filling with a cast of characters that I am hoping stories will arrive for in due time. I love these characters you have here – displaying their unique personalities. Looking forward to their story.

  10. 10 Katherine Battersby March 9, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    Thanks Lynn. I also have soft spots for a few of the characters that have popped up on your blog, and am eagerly awaiting their stories too…

  11. 11 Scott Chambers March 31, 2010 at 10:08 pm


    “to get him out of my head” … I’m so glad to hear you say that. Makes me feel much more normal! It was never my intention to have many irons simultaneously in the fire, but the further I get into any one project, the more I seem to get characters from other stories (some started, some not), trying their damndest to butt in. So I do just that — little notebooks by the bed, in the car, in my back pocket, to jot things. To get the little buggers out of my head. Every so often I’ll gather up all the notebooks, start typing in and herding the various scraps, and depending on my prevailing mood, might choose to move to a different story. On one hand it is nice to have the option to move freely between 5-6 very different stories (novels), but occasionally it depresses me that they’re all a long way from being finished … and *that* is when I seek solace in verse =) … works for me anyhow. Thanks for the invite to the blog Katherine, love your work!

  12. 12 Katherine Battersby April 1, 2010 at 8:59 am

    I think the funny thing with creativity is that the more open your are to ideas, the more will come your way. In other words, the more you write, the more you will need to because more characters and stories keep popping up! I think a lot of people end up feeling like they have a head they need to empty, Scott :)

    I’ve always said that my story ideas grow exponentially. After writing one novel, I tend to come away with ideas for 2 to 3 others. I will never get to write them all (the appeal of learning how to survive while not needing to pause to sleep or eat is often great!)

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About this Blog…

A blog of ramblings about the world of writing and illustrating for children, by an author / illustrator who might just have a thing for rabbits.

Katherine's picture books, 'Squish Rabbit' and 'Brave Squish Rabbit', are out with Viking (Penguin, US) and UQP (Australia). Please e-mail if you would like her to blog about something in particular.

All text & images  Katherine Battersby

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