Illustration for Picture Books (Part 2)

Lesson One: The Character Sheet

In order to have everyone starting out in the same place I decided we will work on the illustrations for a popular fairy tale. I am pretty certain everyone is familiar with the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Here is the Brothers Grimm version: http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/grimm053.html Please, use text from this web site for your illustrations so we have a common beginning. Thanks!

For today’s lesson choose two characters and develop a character sheet for each. Have at least one smiling face, one frowning face and one other expression for each character.

To view an assortment of character sheets by artist Aaron Zenz, visit the character design section of his web site here: http://aaronzenz.com/characterdesign.html

Bonus points awarded to anyone who adds completed bodies to each character or has the characters interacting in some way.

Post a link to your character sheets in the comments if you would like a critique.

Lesson Two: The Storyboard

Instead of recreating the wheel, there is a very detailed web page from the book ‘Writing with Pictures: How to Write and Illustrate Children’s Books’ by Uri Shulevitz. Here is the link: http://mightyartdemos.com/mightyartdemos-shulevitz.html Please, visit the web site and read the demo. I also highly recommend Uri’s book when you have a chance.

In today’s lesson draw thumbnail roughs for three consecutive spreads on your storyboard.

My friend, Elizabeth Dulemba, is kind enough to share her storyboard for ‘Paco and the Giant Chile Plant’ on her web site here: http://dulemba.com/FreeTools/Paco-Thumbnails.jpg

My thumbnails for ‘Rabbit’s Song’ are here: https://www.wendymartinillustration.com/wordpress/rabbits-song-rough-thumbnail-layout/

Post a link to your thumbnails in the comments when you are done if you would like a critique.

Lesson Three: The Book Dummy

Amy Meissner has a web page on her site that shows the process she went through for a single spread in her book ‘Ollie Jolly, Rodeo Clown.’ Please read it here: http://litsite.alaska.edu/akwrites/desert/illustrate.html

Today’s lesson is to take one of your spreads from yesterday’s lesson and sketch it at full size. Keep in mind your character sheets and the book’s physical limitations. Bonus points for anyone who gets ambitious enough to add color.

Post a link to your spread in the comments if you would like a critique.

2 thoughts on “Illustration for Picture Books (Part 2)”

  1. Hi Wendy,
    I recently started following your blog. I love you work, it is full of fun and vibrant color! Thank you for posting about the whole children’s book process. I am working on writing and illustrating my own book and it’s good to get a refresher on all those lessons from college and continuing classes. I have been trying hard to do so many things creatively on top of balancing home, kids, aging Mom with health problems and volunteer work. Unfortunately, this means I am not as productive as I’d like to be. This is one other aspect of your site I love – the daily doodle – would you mind if I borrowed that idea for my blog? It would help me tremendously to keep up my regular drawing and posts while I’m working on my illustrations. I need to be more nimble, and get faster, I’m pretty slow! I entered my wordpress site in the field and my blog site is below:


    I would absolutely love your feedback on my work. The slideshow on blogger has had multiple problems, and I like the look and options of wordpress better. You can see my work much more clearly on the wordpress site, so be sure to visit there. I’m seriously thinking of dropping blogger, we’ll see. I’ve tried so hard to connect with other illustrators/artists both online and in “real life”. For some reason, no one really seems to care! I can’t get feedback from any of them, just my writing friends and other non-writing, non-artist friends.

    So, I know your very busy, but if you get a chance, I’d love to hear from you! Thanks much, Susan

Comments are closed.