check it out. Cyndi Marko is one of the members of the SCBWI Canada West Illustrators. She has a wonderful chapter book series called "Kung Pow Chicken". Her series is much like a picture book in the amount of pictures she uses to create her books. If you are interested in Cyndi's books go to your local book store or check out the link here!
Be sure to check the bottom of this post for a prize!
Smart Tips for Smart Dummies!
I’ve learned a lot about creating dummies since I first started writing and illustrating books for kids eight years ago. Back then it took me six or seven months to make a dummy. Now I can complete a forty-page dummy, complete with covers, endpapers, and color samples, in about a week. No, I didn’t make a deal with the devil (but I am open to it if he’s got something awesome to offer, just saying); I simply drew so much that over time I got pretty good and pretty fast at it.
I’ve compiled some tips I hope will help you to create smart dummies!
SMART TIP: SEE AS YOU WRITE
I also see the pictures in my head as I write. I make a lot of illustration notes for myself in the manuscript. (I remove most of them later on if I need to send the text to a crit partner or my agent, and only leave the ones that are needed to make sense of the text. If I send a text document with a dummy I remove all of them.)
SMART TIP: KNOW YOUR SPREADS FIRST
If you don’t write in spreads like I do, make sure you know your spreads BEFORE you begin sketching. The easiest way for me is to print off the ms and divide the text up using pencil to mark spreads.
But even being as prepared as possible, sometimes adjustments to spreads need to be made mid-dummy as the story and sketches evolve. Be flexible! (and know that changes are imminent once an agent or editor becomes involved!)
SMART TIP: KNOW YOUR CHARACTER(S)
SMART TIP: WRITE YOUR STORY USING BOTH WORDS AND PICTURES
When designing your compositions, be mindful of where the gutter lies. Try not to put anything important in the gutter, like faces or important objects. (The gutter is the space on either side of where two pages are joined.) Also, leave plenty of room on the page to place the text. This might sound like obvious advice, but trust me, it isn’t! (Says the lady who has made this mistake a time or two.)
I have a standard view I use throughout that acts as sort of a visual normal or a starting point. From there I zoom in for a close up, zoom out to tiny silhouettes, look down from bird’s eye view, look up from worm’s eye view, but I always come back to visual normal. Think of yourself as a director and you get to tell the camera where to go…er, what shots to take!
I also vary the type of illustrations I use. I like to mix things up with spots (an object or character with no background), scenes-for lack of better terminology (an object or character with a background that is surrounded by white page), and bleeds (where the illustration fills the entire page.) I also like to incorporate at least two full spreads if I can (a single illustration that fills both pages of a spread, also known as a double-page spread.)
SMART TIP: DON’T TRUST YOUR BRAIN!
Well okay, yes, *grumbles* we write picture books for kids. BUT we make dummies for agents and editors. Sell your work by helping them see the big picture. The more your dummy looks like a real book, the more agents and editors will be able to picture it on bookstore shelves. The more professional your dummy looks, the more professional they will think you are! (so far I’ve hoodwinked my amazing agent and at least a couple of savvy editors!)
I include front and back covers, I write (hopefully) clever back cover copy. I include creative endpapers. I make use of typography. I create copyright/dedication and title pages. The announcement from my latest sale actually borrows a phrase to describe the book that I wrote as a funny dedication!
Having a design background definitely helps when designing a picture book, but it’s a learnable skill. Look at lots of picture books and study their design. Read design books. (I recommend this one, The Non-designers Design Book by Robin Williams: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780133966152 )
Once acquired, an art director or designer will design the cover and title, pick the fonts, and design the interior layout. The editor will likely write the cover copy. But at the submitting stage it’s all about presentation. Make yours the best you can make it.