Getting started on my own book pitch



  • So, this has been in the making for a few months now. Story is written (draft 4 and probably will be re-written again at least a couple of times), page plan is done, now starting with the first go at nailing the design. These are only sketches of possible directions for the main character, the colors and values are only set for comparison, they are not by any means final (I sometimes sketch with only black and red, and I find it helps the sketches to read better).
    The main character is a child living on a space-ship. There may be hints that the setup is imaginary, but not quite.
    Target audience is 4-7 years old (pre-schoolers to first- and second-graders). The theme of the story is the child's quest for independence and competence - so the character should be manifesting a mixture of self-confidence and cluelessness/clumsiness.
    I have not decided yet if it should be a boy or a girl...and then at some point I thought it could be a little alien as well, but I am not sure this is relatable enough.
    Anyhow - 14 versions are open for a public poll (I will also post on my social pages and website later in the week). Which one is the most appealing and interesting from the design perspective? Which one would you be most curious about? If you have children, please do ask them too!

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  • @smceccarelli 6 and 7 are the ones for me - they have a "perfect" look about them especially for the age group you are targetting - i could see both designs as girls also with very tiny tweaks - 6b made me think of that - would be a very charming non-stereotypical heroine - i do also like the attitude of 10 though :)



  • I like 6B, 7, and #9. Very much looking forward to seeing where you go with this.



  • I am sorry, I accidentally caused the link to the image to break. Now it is fixed! Thanks for the votes so far - please keep them coming!



  • Great work!

    I tend to agree in liking 6b, 7 & 9. (Also, I agree with Kevin Longueil’s comments)

    Overall, I may prefer 6b due to the cuteness and the immediate connection to modern day spacesuits (aside from NASA’s new Z-Series suits).

    If the character is wearing the clothing in a day-to-day way, then I may opt more towards 9 & 14 where the suit is thinner & less encumbering.

    I would like 1-3 suit styles if they were a little more simplified (they remind me a bit more of an anime spacesuit look; though, Evangelion, Robotech, etc. do have thinner suits like 14 as well.), and I do happen to like the retro-future look of 11, but for me, it reminds me too much of Barbarella, which isn’t exactly a children’s program ;)

    You mentioned that there are hints that the setup is imaginary. If the spaceship and spacesuits are manifestation of a child’s imagination, then I might be convinced to go with 5 & 10 (even 6a/7) type of suits. The reasoning here is that you would have a great way to transition from a child using household objects & paper/cardboard crafting to create a spacesuit in the real world, and then its refined manifestation in the imaginary world.

    One thing that crossed my mind is that there are boys and girls and even aliens, but have you considered non-caucasian characters?



  • Hi @smceccarelli

    Wow, great character designs!

    I'm going to disagree with the others in that I feel the #6 and 7 ones are too young looking for the audience you're going for. Keeping in mind that kids like to 'read up' (ie. the character should be slightly older than the audience) - those characters might work for the 4-year-old, but definitely wouldn't for the 7-year-old.

    The perfect aged character IMHO and also 'homemade-looking' spacesuit is #5. I think he's very charming. I also like #12. I don't really care for the pose she's in but I think she has good promise as well. Her boots look a bit @Jake-Parker inspired :)



  • @DanetteDraws That's a great point about "reading up". I agree that the 6 & 7 do skew younger as far as the character face/proportions are concerned (though, I think the suit designs in of themselves are still valid). Of course, the unrevealed story and the core target age may give wiggle room here (off the top of my head, I'm thinking about Mustache Baby by Bridget Heos & Joy Ang, but that book does seem to be on the younger side of the 4-7).



  • 10 - I think it's her fearless expression :)



  • @smceccarelli Showed the page to my two Kiddos -for what its worth my 5 year old daughter likes 6a and my 10 year old boy likes 13 - i did not give them any info besides "if you were to read a new book who would you want to be in it" - be good to get more kid's opinions for Simona if you have any:)



  • 6 a and b, 7 and 12. I like 5 too but he looks a little too old o me.



  • I agree with Quiet Yell. 5 and 6b for the real and the imagine respectively. I like 11 for female. dI also like the variety of your characters. Fun study.



  • Wow, thank you all so much for the feedback so far! This is very helpful...though the decision will still be a tough one.

    @QuietYell I have used a list of SciFi franchises to inspire the suits: from Star Trek to Star Wars, Tron, etc... I have a whole Pinterest board on this, if anyone is interested. No 1 is actually inspired by Eve in the film Wall-E, but I see why you think of Anime. I do not think I will go in that direction, even though no 1 and number 11 were big hits in a group of 9-year old girls I consulted...I guess hormones are starting to work at that age...
    Yes, I have considered non-caucasians, but then the number of variables was getting too big. Plus, ethnicity is not a big deal in the part of the world where I live (and if it was, it would be about East Europeans and Middle-East countries, which are not that different at this level of stylization). I reasoned that an alien character would be the best representation if this was a topic.
    I have run this through groups of 6-9 year-old (nearly everybody picked a different one :-(() , and I am posting on social channels today.
    And then it is decision-time!
    Please keep tuning in - especially if you have a chance to show it to kids!



  • @smceccarelli I thought I perhaps saw a little bit of Han Solo influence in #8 and X-Wing fighter in #10 1 :)

    I thought the alien might have been to accommodate other ethnicities. I can totally see your point about ethnicity not being "a big deal" in Switzerland (you're still there, correct?). I was just thinking from what I need to consider here in the USA and also in marketing to a global market. Either way, your cute characters and fun story will be a delight to all! =)



  • I have collected votes from 52 people (online and in person) and here is a plot of the results! Thank you to all SVS-learners who participated in the voting!
    I think the results are really interesting in terms of comparing adults and children - it seems children want to become adults and adults want them to stay children...
    I have written a small blog post here: Children Book Character Options - part 2

    Anyway, I post here the results for anybody interested! And now I will get on with designing the final version!

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  • @smceccarelli That is fascinating! It's very thorough of you to do so much research and even plotting a graph for it.. Maybe like you say it's about the children aspiring to be adults...I've read elsewhere about children liking to read about other children who are just a few years older, rather than the same age...whereas adults probably see all of them as young and choose the cutest design... Good luck with the project, will be great to see the next update!



  • And here is the first sketch for the final character - a mix of 5 and 7, shifted towards slightly older (like 5). There is a lot more development work to do, but I am happy about how this character is taking shape, and very glad I did a poll - I would not have got this without the input from outside!
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  • @smceccarelli Love these! I really liked the look of #7 but thought it might be too young looking, you took it and made him the perfect age, IMHO.


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