My Three Story Project 🌲2020

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    For 2020 I decided to make 3 picture book dummies from some story ideas that Ive been stewing in my grey matter. When the Adobe Creative Residency 2020 opened up I hemmed and hawed over doing it then finally decided, since I was doing the project anyway I might as well try and go for the residency. So I submitted my application yesterday. Now, its a pretty popular program so I don't think my chances are very good to receive the residency, so I'm going to continue as if I never applied, and fulfill my dreams on my own. WOOT! If I get the residency then BONUS! LOL
    Now, I figure there a lot of illustrators out there that may be wondering how this dummy making process works, so I'm going to share my processes and progress here in this post so that maybe I can help make it easier for my art friends AND since I am a rookie at this (Ive only ever made 1 dummy), I invite my art friends to comment, question and severely reprimand😉, so that I might learn as well. I want this to be an open discussion🙂.
    This month I am focusing on the writing of the first story, A Girl in a Backpack, but I will be doing character studies, trying to nail down who these little characters are going to be. @Lee-White has some great tips on character studies. There is a pdf to download to help with this from, I think, the Visual Storytelling Techniques class (great class BTW).

    First evolution of Bear

  • @burvantill adorable bear 🙂

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    Yesterday, I started removing the first story from my head and into InDesign. I started with MS Word, but then moved everything into InD today, because I figure I will eventually build the dummy in InDesign so I might as well use it from the beginning, duh🙃.
    Getting the story out of my head is much harder than I thought it would be. When I made up the story, it played in my head like a movie, so its coming out like a screen play;
    Scene: parking lot
    Girl: dialogue
    Mom: dialogue
    Friend: stares out the window. [obviously this is just an example. no one would want this😜]
    LOL. This is my first draft so I am just going to get it all out and then go back and fill it in. I'm thinking its like a gesture drawing. This is just my gesture to get the feel of the story.
    Has anyone else experienced this? Trouble forming the words?

  • Good luck with the project. It's cool that you're sharing the process!

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    @IanS Thankyou. 😃

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    Story update. I have decided to cut my first story short. It's a bit long 3500+ words LOL. Pictures books are 500-600 average. Sooooo, I have A LOT of editing to do. But I am happy to report that the words are out of my head and since I did cut it short, with all the stuff i'm cutting out, I'll have another whole story to add to this series. Bonus! Okay, so I devoted January to writing, and February to editing and character studies. To help me edit and figure out what should go and what stays I downloaded Elizabeth O. Dulemba's book dummy template and have made little notes in the page boxes for actionable illustrations. Now I will go back and start removing fluff from the text that really doesn't need to be there but that I had to write down so that I could let it go. Closure is important. LOL. Seriously tho. 😶😜
    I will also be doing my character studies. I have 4 little girls, 2 men and 1 woman to design. This is huge for me and I'm freaking out a little. But I am going to use all of the tools that I have at my disposal and take it step by step. First thing I'm going to do is fill out a "Creating a Memorable Character" sheet for every character. You can get that from the Visual Storytelling Techniques class with Lee White. I was able to get an awesome template from an art friend that will help me with the visual development of the characters. It's like a lined sheet of paper for beginning cursive writing but instead of letters I'm going to draw in the lines...just like grade school. bu-da-bump😬
    I'll be sharing those as I do them so this blog will be a little more visually interesting next time...i hope. 😋

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    So I'm done with the first edit of my picture book story. Now I only have 3211 words. LMAO!
    My first story is called Girl in a Backpack, BTW. I call it Girl for short.😁

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    Third pass and I’m down to 2790 words. Man this is tough! 🙀

    Alright, deep breath, time to start the slaughter. 😶😵😜

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    Five days ago I got my story down to 597 words! Woot!!!! Getting from 3200+ to 597 was a little crazy. The story I had in the beginning is not quite the story I ended up with. The gist of it is still there. It has a beginning, middle and end anyway. Lol. I've sent it off to get a critique at an SCBWI spring conference in May, but in the meantime I'm going to work on the character designs and the dummy. It is March and I am pretty much on schedule with my 2020 goals.

    These are some beginning sketches of Kiddo Green. She's an outdoorsy girl who has recently moved and wants to make a new friend. But there is a problem, in the form of Tee. A cranky stinker of a kid that teases and torments.
    89048004_2232450190383907_3391942652420161536_o.jpg 88985023_2232450243717235_6037042375270858752_o.jpg 85148975_2232450297050563_4762240096919355392_o.jpg
    Ask me questions about Kiddo. Lets see how well I know my main character. 😃It could be a fun challenge.

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    Today I started the dummy making process on my Girl in a Backpack picture book story.
    Day 1: Plan Your Pages. I took my story text and decided where the page breaks are going to be, arranged them on 14 spreads in Adobe InDesign and printed them out for later.
    Day 2-8 is Design Your Characters. I've actually started this already so I will have a teensy head start, which I am completely okay with.

    I am following a guide made by Dani Duck called the Smart Dummy booklet. I used it a couple years ago during a September dummy making challenge and I was happy to find that I could actually create a dummy in one month. Plus a couple days to finish up the full color spreads, but ALMOST a month is better than not at all.

    Happy Monday! =)x

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    As part of the Design the Characters stage I get to “research” reference photos. So basically I’ve been given permission to do something that I have been restricting for a while. PINTEREST BABY!! I just did a one hour deep dive of searching and organizing images for this project and I am so freakin mellow right now. My OCD kitten is purring. 😬
    Happy dance!

  • Keep up the good work! Hooray for pinterest euphoria! Just be careful. 🤪

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    Evolution of Grace Boon. Grace is sassy, fun, silly and clumsy. Grace and Kiddo don’t look like they live in the same story yet. When I am done drawing the individual characters, there are 4, I am going to draw them all together to help get their look more cohesive. The sassy pose is straight off an image in Pinterest that just screamed Grace to me. I used it just for inspiration to help me figure out who this little girl is.





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    Back in December, while creating my application for the Adobe residency program, I had to make a plan, a timeline of my proposed project. After submitting my application I decided to go ahead and start the project, why wait? I mean I had the plan, why not get a jump on it? To go along with the project I told myself that I would share my progress and journey with my peers, so that maybe I could help someone else that was on the same journey. That includes the good and the bad. So here's the bad. Don't worry, it's not tragic, just not the "look how great i am" that you might see on normal social media.
    So far, if you've been following along, I have written and edited my first story. The next step was to create the book dummy. Using a guide that I had used once in the past I had laid out a schedule for my month of march to complete most if not all of that dummy. The first day was "Plan your pages", which means figure out your page turns. Did that, no problem. The next step was to "Start your Characters", which means character designing. I had already done some preliminary sketches of the main character, Kiddo, and was excited to design and draw her, so she was done right away. The second character, took a little longer to get started, because some life happened. Family stuff and a must see Harry Potter play in San Fran (DUDE it was AMAZEBALLS!). When I finally settled down "a few days later", I MADE myself sit down in my art room and draw until Grace was born. I say MADE, because I literally had to mentally force my brain to choose to do this. I sat down at the art table, and limped myself through the steps of properly creating a character. I had a hard time focusing, my mind wandered all over the place and I kept inventing things that i thought I had to do. Any little excuse and I would be up out of my chair (dog needs to go out, is it lunch time, put the clothes in the dryer, etc.), but i made myself finish and I was happy with what I had done. Now for Tee (she's the antagonist). I thought I was still on the happy high from finishing Grace, and thought I would jump right into creating Tee. But no go. So for the last week I have been avoiding this task, and I can’t say that it’s been all subconsciously. I am well aware of the fact that I am avoiding it. Whenever I draw ANYTHING else i feel guilt because I know that i should be working on my project, but do I stop and do it? NO. WHY?!!! ARGHH!!! Its quite frustrating. So now I’m sitting here with you trying to psychoanalyze myself.
    Do I NOT want to do this project? No, I definitely want to do this project.
    Do I want to take a break from this project? No. I want to finish, I am excited about the idea of having a completed picturebook dummy with some finished color spreads.
    Do I not like my characters? …I like my characters very much.
    Am I afraid? ……………………….…maybe?
    What could I be afraid of? Effing up the characters because I do love them and I want the world to love them and if the characters aren’t lovable or relatable then what chance do I have in competing with the BAJILLION other author illustrators out there. I am a rookie when it comes to drawing children and i don’t want to screw this up. So, if I don’t start then I can’t fail….😶

    Hmm, I think I have my answer. Well then, I guess I better suck it up and get over myself. Finished not perfect, right Jake? I’m gonna go cry for a few minutes and then get to work. Thanx for listening.

    P.S. If you have EVER been in this situation please share so we/I know that we/I are not alone. Because I feel quite alone right now.
    P.P.S. This might be a good podcast topic guys. @Will-Terry @Lee-White @Jake-Parker

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    Character number 3 ✅.
    Meet Tee, the antagonist. She’s a bit rough and needs some work but this is the gist of her. (finishednotperfectfinishednotperfect)
    Fashionista Tom girl wannabe, challenging the world in her insecurities. Shielding herself from rejection and judgment with false bravado. She soooo needs a friend like Kiddo. 🙂

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    Imposter syndrome: Some tips on how to handle it and hopefully break through any blocks that have formed because of it.
    These tips are from an article called Everyone Suffers from Impostor Syndrome — Here’s How to Handle It
    by Andy Molinsky

    1. If you are new to a craft or skill, remember that as a beginner you may have a fresh perspective on how to handle specific problems.
      (Personally I’m having trouble relating to this tip since I’ve been an artist for 40+years, but I’m trying).

    2. Focus on what you’re learning not on your performance. (Okay, I can do this).

    3. Almost everyone feels like a fraud, so chances are that someone in the same situation as you feels the same way. (I’m pretty sure this is true, which is why I’m even posting this🙂).

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    HI! I'm back in the writing saddle again! I had a bit of a dry spell, but I have shaken it off and am back on track again. My three story plan has been jacked though so I'm now shooting for one. If more happen, bonus. I've been told one is a legit number so I'm going with that for now.

    So back in March I signed up for the SCBWI Spring Spirit convention which was supposed to happen in May. It didn't, because is got "rona'd", but they still honored the portfolio and writing critiques which I signed up for. I received the writing critique back for my first story featuring Kiddo in June, and I received some really great feedback from an award winning author of over 100 children's' books, Lori Mortensen. So its a no brainer that I followed EVERY piece of advice that she gave me, reworked the story and came up with, what I hope is a good story. Though, what actually happened was, at first I read her notes, got a little discouraged, sat on it for a while, went hiking, played around during summer vacay and finally have climbed back on the horse and did the reworking of said story. It would be so wonderful if one's mental wanderings would not get in the way of one's progress. 😶

    Yesterday I sat down with my Smart Dummy booklet that I got from Dani Duck's Smart Dummy Challenge in September of 2018 and worked out my schedule to complete the dummy for this story in one month. I scheduled it to start September first because that's how the booklet lays it out, but since the first is only a week away I'm starting early so I will have a little bit more time than one month. But I'm going to finish it by the end of September! Goal stated.
    If you are interested in the booklet I have attached it here. She gives them away free, so don't make it weird. 😜
    Smart Dummy booklet.pdf

    Today I did the step called, "Plan your pages". This is where you take your story and find the pages turns, dividing it up into pages and spreads. My story is a just a bit longer than average so I'm shooting for a 32 page book, which will end up being 14 spreads and 2 extra single pages on each end with text on them. I used this template to help me visualize how this will look. This was also free to download.
    Storyboard Example for Dummy.jpg

    The next step, which I will do tomorrow is called Research Images and Doodle. Where I will collect images and draw doodles for inspiration of things I want to show in my illustrations. I will save the inspiration pics on a Pinterest board and the doodles in my sketchbook. I have been thinking about these stories for a while now so I have some stuff already saved, but tomorrow I will organize it and add to it.


  • @burvantill Thanks for sharing the planner/workbook Smart Dummy -I know it will come in handy sometime down the road.

    Looking forward to your progress!

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    @Heather-Boyd You are welcome. It is handy. She broke it down into manageable steps so it’s not such a daunting task.

  • @burvantill Hi Lisa~! Thank you so much for sharing your process with us. This is amazing! And it's a great glimpse into how much work (and frustration and heartache) really goes into writing and illustrating a children's book. I'm so encouraged and inspired by your posts and I hope to see your published book one day! ❤ ❤ ❤ Keep it up! You are doing great!!! 🙌🏼 🙌🏼 🙌🏼 And thank you for sharing your resources as well! Super helpful!

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