part two of the previous post on making good content in your books. This will be about the visuals. What I see people doing ineffectively for illustrations and then a quick step-by-step of my first illustration of my upcoming baby book. This Wednesday, I will share with you the webinars and courses I took that gave the most value, and then go into detail about each one. one week at a time. One thing I would love for anyone who reads this post to do, is to connect with me here or on Facebook and Twitter, and tell me first, if these things are of any value to you, and second what it is you’d like to know from me.. I hate wasting time (unless it’s sitting and vegging or hanging with the kids.
Not enough action or emotion. One of the first things people see and respond to are faces. So to engage your reader visually you need to have an illustration that holds your reader’s attention, and tell a story as well (hopefully complementary to your text, and unless it’s an early reader, it doesn’t have to be literal, Jan Brett is great example of that kind of subtext telling). Often characters stand or show little or no emotion. The more natural your characters, even when not “real” the more likely your readers will relate to your work.
Not clearly “read”. A quick way to see if your illustration is read easily is to make silhouettes of the objects. Can you still tell what it is you’re looking at? If not, it could be hard to read visually. Another thing you can do is import the illustration in a digital art program and desaturate the color so all you can see are the black, white and grays. Is there clear contrast and flow(action) between all the elements? If not it might be hard to read. You might want to reconsider those things if it’s not something that is clearly SEEN by your reader.
Style is not clear, appropriate or consistent. Style is important not only as a way of identifying the artist, but also for keeping your reader within the story. You don’t have to have the same style from book to book, but for the most part, you should have the same style within the book (unless there’s a very good reason not to).It needs to suit the story and the text (literally and figuratively). If not, in my opinion, you shouldn’t put your book out until you’ve addressed these problems.
Unfinished or poorly conceived drawings. We all start somewhere. but truly, you know a master when you see it. There is no space that looks or feel like it’s forgotten or not designed. “Finished” is such a subjective term, but even when you’re talking about whimsical or childlike drawings, they aren’t awkward or ill-considered and even when simple (Think Mo Willem). Much of this is confidence and practice.
I have a few ideas for what I consider quicker books. The first I’ve started is an interactive sound book, directed at babies. In doing this, I wanted much more simple, clearer forms. I’d actually played with this style a bit a while back with some interesting results:
So in designing Little Beep, and the rest of the characters I want to go with good saturation of color and basic forms. This is what I started with:
I needed to think about the size of the screen, as well as the print form. I want it to read well as a “spread” (what this is) and as a page. For me the best is to make sure there’s text and image on all the pages unless there’s a good reason not, as well as making sure the text is clear and easily read.
Part of the way through I decided to take my own advice, and desaturate:
Since I really wanted Little Beep to be yellow, I pushed the pixels in another direction. I’m mostly pleased with the end result, and will finish tweaking ALL the illustrations at the same time when it’s finished to make sure they are consistent. I hope you’ll check it out when it’s done!