Posts Tagged 'design'

Illustration Sunday

There seem to be two ways picture books develop for me:

  1. The story comes first: something triggers an idea for a story, so I write the first draft before setting out to design characters to fit it
  2. The character comes first: a vivid character turns up in my mind and demands to be drawn, and after a while their story becomes apparent

My little monsters are an example of the first, while Squish Rabbit is an example of the second (Squish was with me for about 2 years before his story turned up). Below are my latest sketches and another example of the latter. About a month ago I woke up with this character’s name and image firmly in the front of my mind. Even though I was desperate to draw him then and there, I didn’t. Just like with my story ideas, I’ve learnt that putting characters in my sketchbook too early can trap them on the page. If I leave them in my head for a month or so, they’ll grow and change. It gives me time to watch them gamble about; to observe how they move and interact with the world. Are they confident, shy, clumsy or zen like? Do they seek to be with others or prefer to wander alone? What do they look like from each and every angle?

Just yesterday I was finally ready to draw my new character. His name is Piggy-Wilikins, a tiny teacup pig with big ears:

His story hasn’t turned up yet, but I know it will – and I’m certain it wont take as long as Squish’s did! I’m starting to get a good sense of his personality already, and I think he may just be my very first confident protagonist (although he’s still a misfit, which seems to be developing into my trademark). Now I have him down on paper I can get back to the story I’m supposed to be working on – the storyboard of a new rabbit picture book. I’ll be posting character sketches from that project in the next few days.

Please excuse me while I hop off to dabble in some rabbity ink…

PS. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Mug Shot

I grew up with a mum who, on special occasions, always asked for something hand made rather than store bought. I made her all sorts of things throughout childhood – 3D cards, dolls, picture frames, letter holders, decorated mirrors, board games. This tradition has continued into my adulthood and each year I try to come up with new ways to keep it going. Often mum gets the original paintings of new characters I’m creating or stories I’m experimenting with, but this Christmas I decided to do something a bit different.

Here is the result:

I have a few Squish Rabbit mugs left over, so when the book is released I might just run a competition where you could win yourself one…

PS. Sorry it’s taken me a while to get back into the whole blogging swing. I don’t want to make excuses, but I do have a great one if you want to hear it. I’m currently in the middle of moving interstate, packing, organising to rent out our house, planning a wedding and rewriting a novel for my agent. Can you say irrationally stressed?

Little Monsters

It’s that time of year in Brisbane again. Festival season. Every time I turn around, there’s another writer’s event to attend. Cocktail parties, conferences, dinners, talks, debates and everything in between. Not that you’ll find me complaining – any excuse to mingle with others passionate about children’s literature – but I may be a little quiet on this blog over the next week. You can be sure that when I do get back I’ll have plenty to talk about…

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with some images from my latest picture book project: a few little monsters who have literally been running riot around my mind.

2009-09-09a

2009-09-09b

2009-09-09c

DIY Cover Art

Cold Hard Truth: the design degree I invested all those hours, sweat, tears and money in was a waste of time. OK, so I didn’t invest any actual money, just accumulated a massive HECS debt that I’ll die with. Ahem. Anyway, I didn’t need to learn about visual communication, art history, typography and book binding in order to design book covers. Alien Onion showed me the light. Turns out it’s all rather simple, really.

COVER ART FOR DUMMIES:

How to create your debut YA cover

  1. Go to Fake Name Generator – the name that appears is your author name
  2. Go to Random Word Generator – the word listed under ‘Random Verb’ is your title
  3. Go to FlickrCC – type your title into the search box. The first photo that contains a person is your cover
  4. Use Photoshop, Picnik, or similar to put it all together. Be sure to crop and/or zoom in
  5. Post it to your site along with this text

Here’s mine:

2009-08-13

It’s so YA. Tense and Meaningful. Definitely a ‘coming of age’ type novel – a young man balancing on the brink of childhood and adulthood. Check out the author’s name. Who doesn’t love a pun?

Confession: I had to cheat slightly, as my first random verb was ‘prognosticate’, which (oh shock) yielded nothing on Flickr, so I had to go with the next one. The original image can be found here. And there’s a great gallery of DIY covers over on 100 Scope Notes which you have to check out.

So go fly my pretties and see what you come up with. Please post links if you do…

Character Design

Usually, when first designing characters, I go through many drafts before I start to feel like I’m capturing their ‘essence’.  However occasionally it doesn’t take so long.  Just recently I’ve been developing some characters for a junior adventure novel I’ve written, and because the characters have been sitting in my head for so long (and developing as I wrote the first draft) when I sat down to draw them they sprung onto the page almost fully formed.  Of course, they’re likely to still change and grow as I draw them more, but I’m reasonably happy with how they’re going.

When trying to capture the essence of a character, I try to focus on their personality and think about how this would influence all the little things about them.  Such as:

  1. Their stance: do they slouch, stand up perfectly straight, bounce, balance on one leg, stand on their hands, cross their arms, hands on hips, stand with feet planted firmly on the ground?
  2. Their expression: do they smile lots, frown, scowl, constantly look a little amused, easily become agitated or bored?
  3. Their hair: is it messy, impossible to tame, neat, long, short, curly, straight?  Hair is one of the first things we notice about a person, and it strongly influences how readers assess a character’s personality
  4. Their clothes: are they neatly dressed, scruffy, wearing a perfectly matched outfit or one with competing patterns, wearing traditional or modern clothes, clothes from a specific culture or region?  The clothes people chose to wear say a lot about their personality

I’m sure I’ve missed some.  Please chime in if you have others!  Below are some of the early sketches:

2009-03-13a

2009-03-13b

2009-03-13d

2009-03-13c


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

Released Sept 2012:

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