It's hard to put into one article all it takes to write and illustrate a picture book. So I'm not going to. I'm going to break it down and post a step each day for you to follow. By the end, maybe you'll have created your very own picture book.
Now, keep in mind, everyone has their own process and we don't even follow our own process all the time. But I will outline my usual way to go about it.
You may ask, "Why do I need to know this? I'm just a writer," or "What's the point? I'm just an illustrator, not a writer." Well the reason is this, a picture book is about the marriage of the words AND the art. If a writer doesn't understand the process the artist goes through and vice versa, the book is never as good. It takes a mutual respect and understanding of each other to create the best picture books. The writer can't overstep their bounds and use too many descriptive words that bind the illustrator and the illustrator must respect and be true to the words' feel and meaning in his/her art.
Finally, if you are neither an artist or a writer and you are reading this blog, then you must simply love children's books (or me...j/k). Therefore, what you read in the coming days will give you a greater appreciation of what it takes to create a "simple" picture book. So here goes...
PHASE ONE - Step 1
1. BRAINSTORM: This can be done in a written word style or by sketching different characters. In this stage, I do both. I try to come up with fun titles, main ideas, or themes. I sketch characters like kids or animals with distinguishing features or characteristics. In this phase I also focus heavily on coming up with problems or main obstacles to overcome. Most picture books have a problem and the whole story is centered on solving it.
By the way, if you are a writer and not an artist, go ahead and do the art parts in all these steps. It will help you understand your book all the better which will make the end result better. And in the end, just submit the words.
From here on out, I'm going to speak in the most common terms regarding picture books. There are always those books out there that "break the rules." But following the rules is a good place to start. Then you can learn how to bend them later.
So get going...brainstorm your ideas today. Come up with one you like. Sketch some fun characters or go through your sketchbook and find one you already like but have no story for. Do this, and YOU'RE ON YOUR WAY to creating your own picture book!
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