The Snow Queen, Chapter Book - Accountability, Feedback, and WIPs



  • I've begun a personal product (as @Jake-Parker likes to say, "you need a product not a project!"), and thought it would be great to share the journey and creation with you all, maybe get some great feedback in the process, and maybe inspire my fellow illustrators in their products and projects! It's also so great to have a forum of illustrators to keep accountability with. Freelance illustration can be lonely work!

    I'm adapting The Snow Queen, and am already deep in the research, thumbnailing, and concepts process, and am hoping to be complete with that and ready to start painting by September 16th.

    My timeline for the product's completion is about 7 months, barring getting hired/a great illustration job in the meantime (fingers crossed that happens!), in which case, I'll have to re-assess my timeline. My current count on illustrations I'm planning is 37, but that may change a smidge over the next 2 weeks as I am completing the thumbnails and basic layout. Whew! I recently completed a 44-card full color oracle deck, and have created a pretty streamline process for getting often pretty complex illustrations complete, and am happy to share it, and always welcome feedback and ideas for improvement! I also just finished the "Illustrating Children's Books" course here, and am doing a mashup of my process with what I am learning from that class to make this book happen!

    I'd like to eventually have the book published and hold it in my hot little hands. I'm also hoping to design lots of prints, trinkets, and hopefully some licensed images along the way. I'm thinking Christmas cards and ornaments would fit in really well. I know The Snow Queen has already been done a million times, but my hope for this, my first children's book, is that the familiarity with the content may endear a larger audience to my work.

    I'm also posting on my Instagram and Facebook page, and any follows there as well are most welcome. ❤

    Wish me luck, and I look forward to sharing the journey with you!

    Here are some of my initial thumbnails for the first half of the book. I'm letting myself have some flexibility with the compositions, so am just using squares for now to get the ideas down, and then assess the best layouts based on the composition ideas. Nothing is more inspiring for me to get this part done than not letting myself start any real designing, drawing or painting til this is done! It really is the hardest part. <le sigh>

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  • I really like your two toned thumbnailing, that's a smart idea for keeping things simple/planning well. So many images!!! This is an ambitious project but im excited to see it


  • SVS OG

    Wow! This is so well thought out! Great job. I look forward seeing your final piece!



  • love the thumbnails, will be excited to follow along as you update!



  • Thanks y'all! I really appreciate the cheers!
    @Perrij I like to do a mashup of limited value (2-3 values, 0% & 100%, sometimes 50%) and sketch thumbs, it cuts down a lot of wasted time working on ideas that are just not going to work if the value groupings end up being in the same place. It also keeps me thinking in color, shape, and value from the get go.



  • @Elinore-Eaton Yeah, I'm definitely going to start trying this. Thanks for bein clever



  • looks like the thumbnails are progressing well, I look forward to seeing your product / project take shape.


  • Pro SVS OG

    Wonderful I can't wait to see more!



  • Got two more sheets done today. This is definitely the hardest part!

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  • AHAHAHAHA! Done with initial thumbs! So crazy making. Am just itching to paint! But, still so much more to do before I can get the watercolors out. 😞

    So, layout is gunna be next. Ummigah...Still having trouble deciding the exact dimensions to do. I think that this will belong in the "Chapter Books" category aimed for ages 6-9, leaning towards the higher end. It's broken down into seven short stories, and I'm going to be doing some re-writing to reduce the text, make it more strong girl hero main character-centric, and the timeline a little bit more sensible and easier to approach.

    So, with that said, my understanding is that it should be smaller (easy to hold and read by oneself, and put in a backpack), and portrait layout rather than landscape. I've read that 6"x9" or 8"x10" is a good standard way to go. Anyone have more insight on this? Would love any advice on this if anyone has experience on best practices for deciding dimensions. Does my understanding sound correct? I really wanted to do more landscape style illustrations, but all my research says that would tend to be aimed at younger readers, and this is definitely not just a straight up picture book. Unless I went more adult "art book" (a la Griffin and Sabine or something like that), and then I don't think it matters...but, not even sure about that either. I mean fairy tale art books for adults?! Am I cray cray? I like the idea of going a little more adult art book, because that kind of takes any rules out of the picture...the categories and age groups thing is tripping me up a bit. Must. Decide. Who. The. Audience. Is.

    On with the thumbnail extravaganza!

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  • @Elinore-Eaton I love how expressive your thumbnails are! It appears as though you do multiple thumbnails for each illustration to test different options - am I reading that correctly?

    As for the sizing, you may want to research how you plan on printing and publishing this, so you know what sizes are offered by the printer! (Some printers only have a few options.)



  • I am looking forward to see what thumbnails you take to sketches



  • @baileymvidler Thank you! Yes, I do multiple thumbs for each, so that when I go to lay it out, I have options, both for what is best for the story, and also what flows best from one image to the next.

    I've found that for printers, the 8"x10" and the 6"x9" is like "the standard book size" is pretty much offered everywhere. Good advice, thanks!



  • Ummigah, I did it!!!

    First time laying out a chapter book, and I'm pumped. I didn't go into this project planning a chapter book, but after looking at what I wanted to do, the age group I want to aim at, and the length I wanted to keep, I think this is the right choice. Other than the spot illustrations I plan to do for the chapter beginnings, I have all the composition sketches in place and the text complete, and laid out. It ended up taking slightly longer than I had expected, because as it turns out, I am fully adapting the text. Pretty much changed the ending, made it more modern and easier to understand for the age group I am aiming at which is 7-9, with the word count clocking in at 8440, and I ended up going with a 8.5x11" book with 18 pt font and 24 pt leading. Adapting a long text was great practice to get me back in the swing of writing, and I really am grateful now for the years I spent teaching ESL! I was a little intimidated at first, but am even more in love with the story since the changes I made. I'm also grateful for the years working in advertising and working with InDesign. Eighty-six pages would have been stupid difficult to do in just Photoshop.

    Is it painting time yet? Pretty please? (Well, after much reference hunting and line art anyhow.) I'm pretty sure I'm going to start with Story 1 which is the most snow themed, then story 5, which is the Lapland story and has the bulk of the reindeer illustrations, and will be great for the holidays I think. I'm hoping to do Snow Queen ornaments and stickers, maybe even jewelry! Not sure after that at this point, but will probably save all the flower and garden illustrations for spring. Who wants Snow Queen pendants?!

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  • SVS OG

    Wow! Thanks for sharing all this. Looks lik the beginnings of a beautiful book!


  • SVS OG

    @Elinore-Eaton omg, girl! This is so amazing! This does seem quite a huge project though so buckle up for the ride!


  • SVS OG

    @Elinore-Eaton Really impressive! Now you can get to the fun part 🙂



  • Thanks y'all!
    @Marsha-Kay-Ottum-Owen Thanks, and you're welcome! With this project, I decided to just share the whole process from start to finish. It's going to be a good ride I hope!
    @Nyrryl-Cadiz I know right? I was like, "it's a fairy tale, love this story and know it by heart, I need a smaller project after that oracle deck (just completed a 44-card oracle deck for Blue Angel Publishing.)" But, once I really dove in, realized what a grand story it really can be, and I had a vision from the beginning of what I wanted the reader to experience, so am just going to go for it. Some of these are quite complicated too, but I'm going to learn a lot (already am), and I think come out with something pretty special. <fingers crossed>
    @demotlj Thank you! It makes it even more fun knowing the structure of the whole thing from the beginning. There were a lot of points, I was tempted to start getting to the art before the whole thing was laid out, but I stuck through it, and am glad I did.


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