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  • Anita Crawford Clark

Creating a Picture Book Dummy

Who knew so much prep went into illustrating a children's picture book? I surely did not know, but now I have immense respect for anyone who has ever illustrated a children's picture book. My journey for this book, one could say began when I was eight years old. However, I first wrote the manuscript for this story in 1999.


When I was a little girl I thought everything at my grandmother's house was old - her house, the people, the trees and her furniture. I did not like old stuff. I liked modern and newer things. This story is based on those feelings I had as a child. In this version, the little girl is named May Lily and the last place she wants to be is at her grandmama's house. What will it take for her to learn to appreciate the beauty and joy in things that are old - especially her grandmother.


I think I'm on the 13th or 14th revision of this story. The first fun tie bit to come out of this story was an full color illustration. It just came to me one day. So I sketched it out, took a ton of reference photos (using my friend and her daughter as models), and came up with this piece.





Later, after taking some courses on writing and illustrating children's books with Larissa Marantz and Children's' Book Academy and several others, I knew what I must do... Make a DUMMY!


But I was used to working very, very Big. Since my main medium is pastels, I typically worked on paper no smaller than 18X24 inches. So guess who struggled to make tiny, little thumbnails? Yep. I did. But I kept at it. This was my first attempt.



Next, I would need to enlarge them and add some text to see how the page turns fit (or not). It was mostly, or not. The text and most of the thumbnails have already changed significantly.

Here are eight of those that I enlarged.


Next, I made more changes to the text (okay, major changes) and to the thumbnails. Next, as part of my illustration course, I had to enlarge one of my thumbnails as a full spread. Here is the one I chose.






As part of my illustration course, I had to make two full color illustrations from selected thumbnails. Here are the two I illustrated.




As a final task. I needed to create a dummy for my proposed story. This was challenging since I am also teaching full time in a K-12 school. Many nights I was up until 1AM or 2AM finishing up an illustration. Honestly, I would lose all track of time. Once I am dialed in on a drawing, it has my undivided attention. There is such joy in creating drawings.


Since I love to work traditionally, I found a happy medium between working traditionally and using procreate for some digital work. Mistakes don't freak me out as much. And now I know I can make changes and adjustments more readily if an art director should ask for them.


When I'm able, I will come back and add some more photos of the dummy. Stay tuned.



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© 2020 by Anita Crawford Clark