Thumbnails and sketches: an illustrator's process

Creating a picture book can be a lengthy process. When the illustrator gets to work, small rough sketches, called thumbnails, often come first. As work progresses, the illustrator roughs out a layout, and starts to do more finished sketches, which look more or less like an entire page or two-page spread. A far more detailed account of this process can be found in Uri Shulevitz's wonderful Writing with Pictures : How to Write and Illustrate Children's Books, one of the books I recommend in the Resources section of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books. The following material fills a gap in my book, but may be of interest on it its own:

Due to a need to fit the book within a certain number of signatures, two illustrations and their captions had to be left out of Chapter 23, "What If I Don't Like the Pictures?" (now Chapter 27). The first of these shows what thumbnails are, and the second shows a finished sketch. Both appear courtesy of Grace Lin, and are actual working materials from her illustrations for Round Is a Mooncake. Borrow that book from your library to see how the final art looks.

Thumbnails from Round Is A Mooncake

These thumbnails are all different versions of what became a two-page spread in Round Is a Mooncake, illustrated by Grace Lin.

A final sketch from Round Is a Mooncake

This sketch shows one two-page spread of Round Is a Mooncake. Note its resemblance to one of the thumbnails above. Usually, illustrators do thumbnails to try out different ideas for layouts or the appearance of a character, and then develop one of them when they do final sketches.

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