Share your book dummy process?



  • @xin-li said in Share your book dummy process?:

    have the end product in mind

    I would agree with having the end product in mind from the beginning. I self-published a book by myself and the number of compromises and changes required because I didn't think about the end product was very high.

    I am glad I had done the exercise of fully completing a book before really getting into illustration/writing full time. It really taught me about the things I didn't know and the lessons mean a lot more when you have practical knowledge of doing stuff the wrong way can get you into trouble.

    On no. 5, my first editors (I use that term loosely) are a couple of people who can easily image into the images. I decided to do this as an extension of the process @Lee-White and @davidhohn gave us for illustrating. Take baby steps, provide options, choose the best one before moving to the next step. 50 Thumbnails -> 8 - Value Thumbnails -> 3 - Small Sketches -> 1 - Refined Sketch -> 1 - Final Picture. I would struggle to remove a character from my story if I had already done character design for them and got to know them. If they are just in the text I am a little less attached.

    I did struggle a little bit with my more recent manuscript as there are pages in the dummy without any words (story through illustration). I solved that by creating simple text descriptions of the feelings and goals of the illustrations on those pages. This allowed the editor to follow along though I did learn during that process to be clearer in those descriptions.

    On no. 10, I currently don't have a good critique group. I have a few editors/readers I will be using for this initially. Luckily, I have a family that is into literature and they have no qualms about giving me their opinion! I will use them for now, until I can establish a more formal group for this stage. One thing to note about feedback at this stage is the need for knowing the provider of the feedback and filtering the feedback through that lens.



  • @Jeremy-Ross looks really fun. Is the book you are working on a square book? I am curious if your thumbnails are idea sketches or the actual page spreads.

    Yeah. Would love to see your book trailer 🙂



  • @Coley thanks for sharing the podcast. I love Dan Santat's work. And he is such a good speaker too.



  • @xin-li Do you mean a physical dummy you are sending to a publisher, or a physical storyboard?



  • @nadyart I refer "book dummy" as a physical dummy that represents a picturebook working in progress. I can upload some pictures when I am done with my first book dummy (probably sometime next week). What are the differences between dummy and storyboard in your definition?

    Right now the sketch in my book dummy is no more detailed than thumbnails. I will take everything into a rough sketch phrase (add values, and making it more or less readable without much explanation notes), and probably make 2 -3 spreads into more detailed color sketches before sending my dummy to a publisher.

    I will send the editor a digital version of the dummy (in PDF). The physical dummy is more for myself. I found it is easier to have the end product in mind if I make the dummy the same size as the final book. I also find it is easier to think about page turns when I have a physical dummy.



  • @xin-li I made a storyboard for my first picture book, with thumbnails and I also made more detailed sketches for all the spreads. But I did not create a physical booklet in the size of the book. That would have been very useful, but since I self published it, I did not send it to any publishers before hand. I was just wondering what to send to a publisher; the storyboard (in my case this was a page with all 12 thumbnail spreads), the larger more detailed sketches and/or these sketches printed out as a physical booklet (a dummy). Having read your explanation I think I will create a dummy as well 🙂



  • @nadyart From my research, a typical thing to send to an editor is a digital book dummy among other stuff they are asking for in their submission guideline. Many publishing houses have their own submission guideline, and art agencies also have their own. If you submit a picturebook manuscript to publishing houses and agencies, following their guideline is very important. It is kind of their first test to see if you are a good collaborator.

    I think I will first send my book dummy to the editor who I worked with from the previous book. She has shown some interest to see my stories, so I just need to follow up on the thread by sending her my book dummy. The Norwegian publishing timeline is much shorter, I can get a book out in 6-9 months if the book is been bought. The communication loop is also much much shorter. What is it like in The Netherland?

    I am very interested in working with chronicle books in the US. But I do not know how to go about it. I heard the waiting time after sending a manuscript is at least 6 months. I might just start by sending them postcards, and to see the possibility of doing illustrations for them first.



  • @xin-li said in Share your book dummy process?:

    I am very interested in working with chronicle books in the US. But I do not know how to go about it. I heard the waiting time after sending a manuscript is at least 6 months

    That's interesting - so you could end up sending a dummy book to chronicle but also some publishers in your own country and then by the time chronicle get back to you, you're already signed up and working on it with another publisher?



  • @xin-li, here it is. I can tell you it was a lot of fun creating this trailer.

    You can compare it against my thumbnail storyboard.

    amazon.com/author/jeremyross



  • @Jeremy-Ross thanks for sharing. Yes, I can definitely see the progress from thumbnails to the final trailer 🙂



  • @xin-li well, I have moved on to getting all of the sketches done for the pages. And I thought I would share the process I am going through.

    First, I figured out I can PDF directly from my book dummy in google slides, when done I can then print with 16 pages per sheet. I am able to get the whole book on one sheet of legal-size paper at thumbnail size!

    I printed the whole book (at thumbnail size) and I used that to determine the energy level for each page and keywords. To really establish a rhythm across the book. Establishing high points, the highest being the climax and those building to the climax being lower energy. The keywords then follow with the words and energy. I also determined if I wanted 2-page spreads or 2 illustrations based on energy and flow.

    My paper ending up looking like this:

    2020-02-21 11.50.24-1.jpg

    Then I printed another copy and did very rough thumbs. These will NOT be my only thumbs for each illustration BUT it is giving me an idea to start with. And using these I looked closely at how I was working my camera (how close or far) and how that will work with the energy levels. Generally, I want smooth camera transitions unless at a high energy point in the book.

    Here is what that ended up looking like:

    2020-02-21 12.18.40-1.jpg

    My next step will be to take and do 20 thumbs per double spread. I will be using the keywords, energy level, camera zoom to help narrow down each of these. Then I will work each double spread through the process of thumb, rough sketch, value sketch, refined value sketch and put them into the dummy.



  • @theprairiefox thank you for sharing. I am still working on my 2 more complete spreads. But I do have the whole book thumbnailed out, super rough. I think I will do about 10-20 thumbnails for each spread before I refine them as well.
    I started to see my story can be divided into smaller story loops - I do not have a better word for it, it is like scenes in movies. I find it is easier to do thumbnails for one story loop, rather than a single spread. The length of my story loop can be anywhere from 2 to 5 spread. Do you have a similar feeling to your story as well?



  • @xin-li I definitely get that as well from my story. And I think that is a good thing. Even picture books need 'chapters', 'story loops', 'minor climaxes' that build to the big climax of the story.

    That is really what you are seeing with the line going up and down in my book. It is delineating each climax building to the final climax. One thing I discovered doing this was the most energetic climax in the book is not the final climax. That there is another in the resolution portion... not sure if that is okay but I will give it a try.



  • @theprairiefox actually, My story has similar pattern. The most enegetic climax is the one before the last. I have not shared with any reader yet, so I have no clue how the story works.


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