Monday, March 6, 2017


Illustrating a book with an impending deadline looming.A month's work went into the recycling bin. Boo hoo hoo... However, with the deadline for I Love You Too, I Love You Three looming, it was time to put away the sad-sack face, dry my tears, and put on ... ta da! My super-artist cape in the persona of Quick-Draw McGraw... she sketches at the speed of light, can lay down a wash in a single stroke... and so forth.

The technique described in this blog post is my
go-to method of book illustration as seen in this
drawing from the book Where the Lost Things Go
by Barbara Farnsworth
 A small aside... Super-Artist Quick-Draw McGraw dates back to my early days of freelance illustration, before Love You Forever, before blogs, before cell phones. I'm not sure who first called me that, but it was fitting. I never missed a deadline. Not for me the preciousness of some who have a born-in-the-blood style and need a month's lead time. Nossir. I drew and painted in any "style" I needed to, for any ad agency, to make a buck. Need a sketch of a tree, a frying pan, a blanket, a dog? Need it overnight? No problem, I'm your gal. I saved my "style" for editorial work, the illustrations in magazines, newspapers and books, that got my signature or a credit in the margin.

But I digress.
I put away the oils and watercolor paper. Out came the Bienfang 360 rag paper, which is pretty great all round for pastels, markers, and of course the Prismacolor colored pencils. Love their home page... got the Quick-Draw Texan thang goin' on!

OMS -- Odorless Mineral Spirits -- a solvent, can be 
used to blend Prismacolor pencils,and pastel.
When using solvents, be certain your work 
area is well ventilated.
First, assembly-line style, I ruled the the Bienfang 360 paper to 125% of the book's size. (Always work larger than the final print size.) This paper is semi transparent, allowing me to trace down the preliminary sketches in a pale blue that's erasable.

Now comes the color. Keeping in mind the publisher's preferences -- for the child and "its" room to be gender neutral -- I avoided gender-specific colors and objects. Using pastel, colored pencil and the occasional marker I blocked in the base  "washes" of color. To blend these mediums, I used a brush and Odorless Mineral Spirits. 

Finally I added shading and detail. Wanting to maintain a lively energy, I deliberately made stationary objects off kilter, and to achieve a cuddly feel, the furniture and objects are chubby looking. I also avoided black outlines which can be harsh, using indigo blue instead. 

As I work I like to display the illustrations in order, on a wall. This helps with continuity of color palette, characters, and content. If the bathmat is green in one scene, it better be green in the next bathroom scene.

Come back soon for installment 8 of this series, wherein the book's interior and cover get designed.

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