I asked my talented illustrator friend what I mistakenly thought might be a simple question. Here is what I asked: When you first receive a manuscript to illustrate or you complete your own manuscript, what is your illustration process?
Silly author that I am, I figured Rob would send back maybe a paragraph or three - but Rob sent back an entire post! With visuals! How could I rob (pun fully intended) the 24 Carrot community of his full answer?
So here it is - in it's entirety. With visuals -- cuz he's an illustrator afterall!
REGARDLESS! I WILL DO MY BEST TO EXPLAIN MY ILLUSTRATION PROCESS FOR YOU BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE!!!!
Shall we begin?
I’m going to include pics of my upcoming (Fall 2021) middle grade graphic novel, DEATH & SPARKLES, since it’s the project that has consumed me for most of this year.
Generally I start by thumbnailing everything out in my sketchbook. These are the roughest of rough drawings/stick figures. Sometimes I start from a specific scene and draw out from there, other times I just start at the beginning and work straight to the end. It helps with figuring out the composition of every spread, but really, this part is all about figuring out those page turns! Finding that big moment where a character is introduced, or where a twist is revealed, or even for when a good joke lands.
From there I take it to the “rough sketches” phase, where you guessed it, I draw rough sketches of the thumbnails!
I try to keep these sketches as loose as possible. It helps me better understand each character by drawing them a ba-jillion times over, while also finding the funnest pose for each spread. This is actually my favorite stage of the illustration process. It's where my creative energy kicks into high gear, and I can really start to envision how the book is going to look.
As you can see, this stage is often mixed in with my thumbnail phase depending on how much of the story or text I have figured out, or if there’s an image that I really want to flesh out.
I used to do this part on my iMac in Photoshop, but man, I've completely switched to this new method. My sketches seem cleaner and looser at the same time. The Apple Pen was a real game changer for me.
When it’s all said and done, a spread goes from a indecipherable scribble to some like this: