Book dummy?



  • Hey red rabbits! I’ve got lots of questions in regards to making a book dummy. Has anyone taken any classes here at svs that go into detail on this subject? Or maybe a podcast episode where they discuss some key points? Any point in the right direction would be most helpful and appreciated. Thanks!



  • Great question. I could use a course like this too.


  • SVS OG

    @Asyas_illos I imagine svslearn is working on something like this, or if not we all would appreciate a class on book dummying, that's for sure!
    But while we wait for a great class, I can share a few so called standards after just finishing up a PB dummy myself: Establish your books length. Stretch the writing of how long you want your story. If one sentence of the story makes sense to be a spread, than do that. The main goal is to have the book be the standard length, 16, 24, 32, 40 pages. For me content was 32 pages including the 4 endpapers. So 28 pages of work, or 14 spreads. If working in color, change to greyscale and get the lighting down and mood of the book. Two or three spreads can be in color if you wanted. Lock down the text and revise sketches, show a clear understanding of what is happening in the book so that anyone viewing will follow what's going on. 18pt is standard text, and times new roman. For me the toughest part was nailing the body language, and so character turnarounds became important. I am always finding something to tweak whenever I look at mine, and so it really is never done but you want it to be at a point where it can become sharable for querying. For me, I know not to get too attached to what I put down. I know that changes will be made if it gets picked up to go to print. Hope that helps a little! -Todd



  • @artbytra thank you for all the tips! I guess for me I’m wondering how to break up the text so that it flows? This seems like it would need to be the first step. The step which I imagine the editor does? Or is that up to the illustrators too?


  • SVS OG

    @Asyas_illos Yeah I guess hiring an editor would be a good idea but I did not go this route. I had my mentor do that and also a crit group helped me.
    But for my pb it was about breaking it up to see what worked as page turns. Like one line in my book is
    "Can you imagine the wonderment of this little shepherd boy as his father and others make haste to see the reason for their joy?"
    So what made the pages were "Can you imagine the wonderment of this little shepherd boy" is on the left page and "as his father and others make haste" is on the right page...turn the page and the two page spread reveals the "to see the reason for their joy?" This was after many attempts, and "make haste" were the buzz words that made for a good page turn. Look for words that leave the reader wanting more, think of it as them turning the page to keep the story moving forward, which is all true in reading a book, but I guess treat each right page as leaving subtle cliffhangers and it will keep it exciting.
    I'm no official editor but I'd be happy to read it over and space it out for you if you want.



  • @artbytra that’s kind of you but I don’t have an actual story in mind I just was wondering how these things worked out I will post again with a layout that you can check out when I decide which story to move forward with! Thanks again!


  • SVS OG

    @Asyas_illos of course! Happy to help whenever the story is ready. Good luck



  • There is a class here at SVS that goes through breaking down a story into a picture book layout. I believe they used little red riding hood as an example. They showed where to split the text, what part of the story to illustrate, and I remember it was very informative and you could work along with them.



  • @Asyas_illos the svs course @KaraDaniel mentioned is really well structured, super informative.

    I am currently making a book dummy for my own story, and I have illustrated 2 manuscripts in the past. When I was working as an illustrator, the editor often breaks the text into pages for you, but I prefer doing that part myself if I have the chance. I consider that as part of the visual problem solving. It takes some trial and errors, but it is also fun to do for me.

    I talked with some other artists: everyone seems to have their own choice of weapon when comes to write and illustrate their own story. Right now, I draw thumbnails and write at the same time. I would write one line, and draw a picture, then write the next line. This is the first time I do a dummy for my own story. I will report back how well this method work for me :-).



  • @xin-li thank you that is helpful I will try my luck out. And post my progress here @KaraDaniel I vaguely remember that lesson do you know what the course was? I will search my past classes too thank you both!



  • I found the lesson it’s illustrating Children’s Books with will and jake in case anybody following along wants to know



  • @artbytra here’s a dummy I’ve come up with if you want to check it out. Obviously these are very early sketch stages. I’m basically just looking for comp and flow feedback. Yes it’s about tooting... 😂FAF213AD-DF97-42DD-B04C-F3D1A6C1BFE7.jpeg


  • SVS OG

    @Asyas_illos Haha awesome, great start! Some of the text I couldn't make out but I do like what I've read. I think you can play with a lot of the white space like you have here....especially playing with playful puffs of toots haha. Refine, refine...and youll be amazed how those blank areas will be filled with details and more ideas as you keep working on it. I think it has great flow actually, and be mindful of important art not being right in or near the gutter too. The second spread , the first animal could be moved away from the middle. A quick fix is to scale it down a but and see where everything falls. Or opposite, scale it up to see where it is against the gutter. Looking forward to more!



  • Yah sorry about the text it was a pretty rough quick chop job lol. Thanks I have several stories but most of the others a bit longer. I thought this would be an easier start... I’ll be back with more progress reports!



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  • Did a little more detailed sketch over for my book dummy. Anything stand out that I should look twice at? I’ve still got half left obviously but for the most part I’ve stuck to the original sketch thumbs. Feedback welcomed! Apologies if the upload quality is bad when I get to more finished stages I’ll will be sure work it out!😉09784BBE-6247-448B-A3E3-C544BD1373AC.jpeg


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