Picture book illustration process for “The Story Circle.”

As I announced a few weeks back, I am in the midst of creating the picture book illustration art for “A Story Circle.” A bilingual picture book coming out in May 2016 from Piñata Books, the picture book division of Arte Público.

Once of the challenges in this picture book illustration process is making sure there is enough room for both English and Spanish text, with enough space to separate the two languages.

In some spreads, this is accomplished with a small vignette placed between them. But in other spreads, the English is on one side with the Spanish on the other. The publisher has requested a pale background where ever the text will be placed. I only received the story in the English version, so I’m having to guesstimate the amount of space needed for the Spanish translations. I know Spanish tends to be longer than English in most cases. I also have made judicious use of Google Translate.

Here are some of the inkings in progress from the book.

picture book illustrationpicture book illustrationpicture book illustrationVisit my Instagram account for more images from the book creating process.

There are 14 spreads, 1 cover (front and back) and 12 vignettes to ink. I ink in Adobe Illustrator. After all the inking is done and I double and triple check to make sure the character remain consistent from the beginning to the end, I transfer everything on to watercolor paper.

I used to do this laboriously by hand with a #F pencil on a light table. Very time-consuming and hard on my back. Now, I have an oversize format printer which can print up to 13.25″ wide and however long I’d like. I take my AI files, which are created at 150% of final size and import them into Photoshop and change the color of the black lines to a tint of a color that will blend well with my palette chosen for the story. The base palette for this picture book is in the orange-yellow ranges, with blues as a counter point. I work in an assembly line process, so all the line-work is printed out before I begin painting. I decided to use a hot press paper for this book to avoid the shadows that can be caused by cold or rough watercolor paper textures.

It took me most of a day to print out the 27 pieces.

picture book illustrationAll set to start painting!