Making Picture Books: The Pictures

cooney_miss rumphius

I don’t know exactly how I came to be an illustrator of books. Certainly much art throughout the ages has been in the form of illustration, although not necessarily in books. Since I was very little, I intended to be an artist of some sort. As I grew older, I wanted also a liberal-arts education […]

Design Matters

sciesz_hen

by Jon Scieszka Designed by Molly Leach [original print version] Design is an essential part of any picture book. It is the first aspect of a book that a reader judges. It is the framework for the text and illustration. It is the subtle weave of words and pictures that allows both to tell one […]

Picture Book, Picture Book, on the Wall…

Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola

Pictures that tell a story have been with us for a very long time. The cave painters showed us their world and their beliefs, and the Egyptians created storytelling murals in their tombs. Medieval scribes painted exquisite illustrations in their prayer books, and the painters who followed continued the storytelling on boards, walls, vases, ceilings, […]

Studio Views: Family Albums

Tools--Film

Photographing children is both exhilarating and exhausting. When I’m faced with a toddler’s classic meltdown, I wonder why I base my livelihood and sense of personal success on the whims of two- and three-year-olds. I wonder how I can capture natural, appealing photos in spite of runny noses, low blood sugar, and Barney. Hey, who […]

Studio Views: My Next Medium

Tools--Chris

My favorite medium, my ideal medium, is the one I haven’t used yet. Or, maybe, it’s the one that I’m contemplating using, toying with using, in my next book, Lordy! I think to myself, Lordy!, in my next book, I’m going to CUT LOOSE! In my next book. With my next medium. See, the thing […]

Studio Views: The Sculptural Quality

Tools--Etch

Etching in a nutshell: a polished copper plate is coated with a thin layer of wax (a ground). A sharp metal stylus (an etching needle) is used to scratch lines through the ground exposing the copper. Acid eats (etches) the lines down into the plate. The etched lines are filled with ink, and, under tremendous […]

Studio Views: Tiny Pieces of Paint

Tools-h2brush

I grew up behind the Iron Curtain. There was a shortage of everything (freedom most of all) — and only one kind of paper, one kind of ink, one kind of paint. I was one happy artist when I became an illustrator in the U.S.A. So many materials! I settled on oil pastels, which I […]

Studio Views: Ticonderoga #2

Tools--Ticonderoga

My hands-down favorite medium would have to be graphite or lead, the core of a pencil, the material that makes the marks on paper. Lead makes the words, images, idle thoughts (doodles), specific information — crucial and otherwise — visible. With the lead from a pencil I can make thin delicate words and lines, bold […]

Studio Views: Pulp Painting

Tools--Bottle

Pulp painting is easy to demonstrate, but difficult to explain. But I’ll give it a go. Cotton rag fiber suspended in water (a wet, messy, colorful slurry) is poured through hand-cut stencils (made from foam meat trays) onto a screen (a window screen will do). The result—an image in handmade paper. The paper is the […]

Studio Views: Sharpie Markers to the Rescue

Tools--Sharpie

Markers for art were a happy surprise. I was a pre-marker child and learned to draw and color with crayons. Markers were for addressing packages. Until Best Friends Think Alike, I illustrated my picture books with watercolor and black ink in a technical pen. In designing each of my books, I try to match method […]