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A Bear Hug at Bedtime.

Updated: Jan 26, 2022

This picture book was published last year by Child's Play (International) Ltd.

Luckily I found my development sketches before they disappear into the vaults of my plan-chest.

The book is beautifully written by Jane Novotny Hunter. When I received the manuscript pictures jumped into my head straight away so I started sketching quickly while everything was fresh.

I do lots of pinsketches sometimes just on a face, sometimes a scene - just drawing and drawing with notes quickly jotted down.

Eyes are so important in children's books. A character has to look appealing and I always prefer small dotty eyes but sometimes in an editorial meeting much discussion will be had on what type of eyes, skin colour, hairstyle etc.

I like to pinsketch the whole book and adding lots of notes for the first editorial meeting. I usually go through this stage about three times as the story can sometimes change and new text will be added. I keep the sketches at A5 size at this stage so changes can be made quickly.

The cover goes through the same process.

When everyone is happy - this includes the editor, creative director, publisher, marketing, art director, educational advisor, author and the office cat and dog - believe me everyone has a comment! My roughs go round and round and round until everyone is happy!

This is also the stage when a book can fall through if the feel isn't right.

The art director and designer will then think about the type face and size and have it set. I will then cut and paste it to my new detailed, actual size roughs.

I then scan all my detailed roughs and email off for another meeting and the process goes through much the same as my pinsketches.

The book is finally starting to look like a book! This is a wonderful feeling!

The designer will then put a dummy together from my roughs and I'll start to think about colours.

I do these very quickly with just blobs of colour and lines to show text areas.

Much tea and biscuits are consumed at this stage and very late nights.

I lay the colour roughs out so I can make sure that each spread is different from the last but that all the characters remain in same colour tones etc.

Whenever I work on a book I find myself working 12 hours days or more as deadlines aren't to be missed. I also have other projects either finishing or starting plus a life to live too. You really have to love this job to do it!

The colour roughs are the last stage of development - once these and the final layouts are done I go on to paint up all the artworks. They are then tweaked and cropped in photoshop and the file is emailed off to the art director. I always email a few off at a time to make sure it's going well rather than emailing all in one batch - my nerves couldn't stand that!

I get a copy of the proofs but usually the proofs are final.

It then goes to print.

The deadline for a book varies from publisher to publisher. I think this one was around four months as there was a waiting time as colour roughs and dummy book went to the Frankfurt bookfair.

I love the fact that this book is a celebration of imaginative play. The main character is deaf so there is also signing in the pictures. The young child is surrounded and enriched by an extended and diverse family.

It was also lovely to be included in the best books section with The Booktrust here

This book was a joy to illustrate!


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