Creating my first book “The Dinosaur And Dragon Juice Café” I ran into many challenges.
Firstly designing of the characters, their sizes, shapes, colours, expressions, etc.
I sent my first drawings off for the authors blessing, these were promptly turned down for being too Disney like (big feet, gloved hands) and lacked colour.
My second attempt was better, colours ok, but too old fashioned.
I was asked to modernise everything, for example by adding a modern car for Grandad, who should look younger, trendier clothes for the special children, trainers for the main characters, fiercer looking dinosaur and dragon, not too much trouble!
The story having been aimed at 6 to 7year olds had to include special children of similar age, this meant (with the help of my wife) hiking round stores and supermarkets, looking at children’s clothes and shoes, researching catalogues for the mentioned trendier look, studying little faces, and looking at mango’s, their shapes and colours.
I tried many types of media for the drawings, ink pens, acrylics, watercolours and fluorescents, I finally settled for watercolour pencils, a good choice I think. I found these were perfect for shading, blending, very clean to work with, and brushing in afterwards with water, I could achieve excellent results very quickly.
Unfortunately mistakes were made along the way proving to be a costly venture, sometimes a nightmare, mainly because they seem to appear at the end of a drawing, often resulting in redrawing (with the help of a light box), and patching which then has to be blended on the computer.
I hit on the idea of using Tippex, easy to cover! Great, but to my sheer horror showed up glowing white in the final scanning.
This led to last minute panic of retouching using Photoshop on the computer, obviously not having enough time to redraw.
Conclusion, I must be more careful in preparation and correctly confident before finishing off.
I have learnt many lessons in putting the illustrations together for this book, firstly use of a computer (for scanning, printing and text), research has been time consuming, use of the internet would have been a great asset, so hopefully I will be connected soon.
I really should mention the excellent advice and help I have received from my good friend Caroline Bailey (illustrator of the Sleepy Ladybird) who has spent many hours vetting and correcting my work, I am very grateful, without her I would not have succeeded in this task.
Next on the Picnic Blog is a change of scene with Rick Schmidt author of Black President - Stay Tuned!
James A. Crabb