My Journey of Creating a Book

  • Quite a while ago I started illustrating a book for somewhat of a personal project, but it got put to the side and after getting busy with my first contracted work the project was forgotten. Recently I was practicing some new styles and thought about revisiting and restarting the project with a little bit more experience. I want to try out something a slightly different than what I currently have on my portfolio, but still remain something that is my style.

    As the SVS forums have been a big part of my illustration career I want to try and document the process here and hopefully it will show others one way of making a book, or even the mistakes you should avoid ......

    Below are a few of the pieces I was working through a few years ago, but looking back there wasn't as much structure as I would have liked and things kept changing as I was going through the project causing redraws and repaints:


    Below is a test piece for how I plan to lay out the new book with 1 page of text surround by a relevant border and an illustration on the other page. This is my jumping off point and the next stage will be to refine the characters (which should be easier as I have previous character sketches) and layout the book, which I will be updating with shortly.


  • These look amazing! Will you be posting process shots of your thumbnails and background/ character designs as well? Would be neat to see 🙂

  • @Gary-Wilkinson The first image -smelly skunk with the sheep in masks -super funny. Though it be swell if "mother nature" actually enjoyed the smell of the skunk, a sign of love for the little creature. I just got that the green isn't foliage but his aroma lols, I am a tad slow sorry.

    Your last image of pigs are super adorable, squeeze them adorable. ❤

    Oh and I know the pages are a test but the period after "at all she saw" is on the next line, so you may need to make some adjustments.

    I too am interested to see your growth in this project. 🙂

  • @donnamakesart Yup, i'll try to post as much as I can about it's creation from start to finish.

    @Heather-Boyd thank you for the comments. At this stage the text is just pasted in without so much thought aside from checking how much of the page it takes up, but thanks for pointing it out 🙂

    My first task is to break up the story into parts and think about how it could be laid out onto the page. I started to sketch out some ideas on paper and highlighted parts of the story or objects that will be important to show.

    I originally thought I might make the story a mix of spreads and spot illustrations, but after consideration i've decided that I want to have 1 page for the text (with some small illustrations bordering it) and the other page will be a vignette. My reasons for this was that it felt like the story was quite a traditional tale and could be best told focusing on select scenes and characters.

    After this I'll be posting character design sketches and refining the pig design. I'm quite happy with the mother nature character, but i'll still leave some room for improvement.


  • SVS OG

    Following this thread! I love those pigs! Your work should really appeal to small children because it has that "good enough to eat" quality. But of course, it's also just plain good!

  • Excited to follow along!

  • keen to see the evolution of this book! good luck!

  • A few sketches of the character "Mother Nature" to use as reference later on. I like the idea of her being this little old lady and want to keep her simple and cute, however I need to avoid making her too childlike.

    I'll upload the brush I made for this if anyone is interested. However currently it says it's 50mb so i'm not sure why that is....

    Old Lady sketches sm.jpg

  • @Gary-Wilkinson "Mother Nature" looks older in color. She is cute and wonderful. Thanks for sharing!

  • SVS OG

    This is adorable @Gary-Wilkinson so colorful! I love the lighting effects too. Well done!

  • This is all seriously awesome, Gary, thanks a tonne for sharing, bro!

  • Some sketches of the "Easter pig" in the story, as well as some of the older sketches I found that I did a couple of years ago. I wish I could add more but either they were on paper or I cant find the files.

    I struggled with whether to have the pig walking on 2 or 4 legs, but I prefer a more natural form as I don't want to overly anthropomorphize his character. One issue with this was how to make him carry a basket in his mouth. If his head was too low then the basket would be tiny, so i've tried to make sure there is enough space between his head and the ground. I may explore having the basket on his back, but that might affect some areas of the story.

    @Mara-Price Yeah I think I hope I can help retain her cuteness and oldness when it gets to color.

    @Pamela-Fraley @MattBaker @Georgios-Christopoulos @Coley @LauraA thanks everyone. I hope I can provide something useful for others 🙂

    Pig Sketches sm.jpg

    Old sketches. I was originally planning to have mother nature look more like the upper left characters, but I wasn't happy with the proportions, and felt something cuter and simpler would be best. Also, I wanted to use the pig in the bottom right, but it felt too Warner Bros cartoony and lacked some of the maturity that I wanted in the pig:

    Pig Sketches old.jpg

  • your illustrations are so cute and huggable! Too cute that I even want to own dolls like them 😃

  • Slowly moving forward with things and started doing some thumbnail sketching for the first 5 spreads. I avoid adding much detail and just put in the elements that are important as well as using stick figures for any characters. I want to get a thumbnail for each spread, before refining anything at this stage as I am sure things with be adjusted later. A lot of the time I draw, erase and draw over so the ideas evolve as they are being created. Most of this story doesn't require anything flashy so I try to keep the ideas simple and focused on the main character.

    I will have some side characters, such and birds and bugs that follow her to add a bit more flavor and help with the painting's flow.

    12345 - Sketchessm.jpg

  • I'm still working on setting a foundation for the book and have started playing around with some color to give the project a bit more life.

    S1 - Mother Nature 0 Testsm.jpg

  • @Gary-Wilkinson Your illustrations are absolutely adorable! Thank you for sharing your process. Excited to see this develop!

    Any particular reason you've maintained the left page text + right page illustration pattern throughout the book?
    I've seen books which alternate the text/illustration sides so that the readers eye actually travels throughout the book. I'll always have a soft spot for illustrations, but if I'm putting in effort to come up with the text (something I personally struggle with a lot!), I'd like the viewer to pay attention to all aspects of the book.

  • @Neha-Rawat It's a good point and something i'll look into as to which people prefer, nothing is set in stone, so having them alternate could work really well 🙂 It's probably just a personal preference, as I like the flow of turning the page to lead directly onto another illustration. Also it's a small thing, but I find it helps when reading a book to a class of children as I don't have to adjust the position of the book when turning the page.

  • Holy Crap!... this is a great thread to motivate others to study your approach and do it! everything looks amazing...

  • I've been away from the forum - but I'm popping back on and I am SO GLAD I have because I am now so excited to see more of this!! 😃 beautiful beautiful work.

  • Thank you for the kind comments. Once everything is complete i'll try to organise it into more of a step by step process for each section and image as I gradually find my way with it too.

    Still working on getting these mini color studies done. A long way to go still, but these are really helpful as they don't take a great deal of time and I can just focus on the concept and whether the colors work or not. When all the studies are done i'll be able to see whether things flow well and can adjust or redo parts without getting too invested in them.

    S1 - Mother Nature 01 Testsm.jpg

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