Planning and Exploring ideas

I touched on the conventions of the picture book genre and already alerted of my intention of breading some of these rules.

In a nutshell, I am exploring the idea of having a double sided book that will tell the same story from each character’s point of view and the resolution in the middle of the book!  I felt the idea was challenging and exciting to keep me going for months. I must confess that I have never seen it done before and maybe there is a reason for it.  I will have to find out if such books exist.

The second thing I decided to change was my working process. And because I am used to writing the text first, I had decided to change my working process to develop a more visual way of thinking. I therefore sketched characters first as I also decided to have a character led story as I usually start with a plot and then create characters to inhabit my world.

Once I had decided my characters would be two animals, the logical step was to choose them. Initially I settled for a bear and a penguin. Everyt ime I drew them, I felt I was too  influenced by Oliver Jeffers and Catherine Rayner’s styles, who both created books with the animals. So much so that I had to give them up and chose something that would enable me artistic freedom and I elected a dog and a cat.

I sketched the dog easily and chose his name Max very easily too. I even drew him from life (which made things a lot easier) and from pictures when he was a puppy. I also studied the anatomy of dogs to include some realistic features. Moving on to the cat was trickier. I do not have one and every time I went to my neighbour’s to draw her from life, I was sneezing away and discovered my allergy was worse than I thought. I had to study cats a lot more to understand their temperament too. I struggled a lot and couldn’t settle for a name either.

Cat sketches   image  image


I therefore decided that to change my mind on one decision I had made earlier might do the trick. I wrote the story in full. Straight into 12 spreads even though I knew I would alter the format.Self editing would have to be done later to cut the  800 to about 500 words. Nevertheless, having the story in words led to  thumbnail sketches .

Putting them in a storyboard format makes it more obvious to evaluate what works and what doesn’t. My story had subplots that made me cram sequences in. It was so confusing that instead of writing less I would have to write more. I would need to choose what to leave out and what to show in images more carefully. But the biggest problem was I didn’t have enough room to expand on each character.  Let me explain.  A picture book has 12 double page spread or 16 for longer ones and tell a story from beginning to end. In my case, I had 6 double spread for each of my character, an overcomplicated story or stories even.

I added 2 more double page spreads for each which gave a lot more scope to understand who they were and what they were doing.I also analysed the books of authors illustrators that I liked and tried to understand what worked or what didn’t. I annotated as if I had to write an essay about them. I split the images from the text as well. It became apparent that the more simple the books were, the more appealing they were. To get a similar result was going to take a lot more planning.


Starting again :retying sequencing and layout – keeping what worked, back to the beginning….

Initial ideas

Everything happens here



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