How to Illustrate a Children's Book
by Joshua Sanabria
A month ago
This is Josh Sanabria, the illustrator of Norman's Architecture Adventure. Creating this book was challenging, to say the least, but not because it is a long book or that any particular drawing was arduous; the obstacles came from my creativity being out-of-shape.
After years of working in CAD, Photoshop, and even a drafting table at one point in school (archaic I know) it was tough to simply let go and enjoy. It was hard to NOT draw straight lines and perfect curves. I desperately wanted to color outside the lines. My brain fought against letting things flow while my more artistic instincts tried their best to reassure me that everything would be OK.
From the first drawing to the last I learned a few things about reconciling my mind and my instincts. Here are some tips I picked up.
I suggest getting out a sketchbook and squiggling; honest to goodness nonsense lines on a page. Do 10, 20, or 50 mini drawings to get the inhibitions off your mind. After the 50th drawing stop and look at the mini-drawings to see if any patterns emerge.
For this scene I noticed that I wanted a grand shot with lots of characters and a massive backdrop. I noticed I kept drawing shapes in the sky, fireworks perhaps?
Find the right tools
To make this scene happen I needed a way to create the big building in the backdrop. Luckily, I know how to model building very well in SketchUp, a free 3D modeling software.
A few hours later and a rough 3D model of the building was available for use. This allowed me to study different views and focal lengths until I found the perfect blend of accuracy and whimsy.
Next I got out my iPad Pro and Apple pencil and started to color the building. I can't explain how incredible it is to create with the iPad. It allows a freedom that is impossible on a laptop or desktop. It blends the instant gratification of hand drawing with the benefits of high pixel counts and the all-important undo button.
After trying many drawing apps I settled on Tayasui sketches. It has custom brushes and fill tools that make a drawing pop with color and texture.
Get your hands dirty
After the backdrop was complete I moved on to creating the characters in the scene.
I was struggling with how to pose the characters. Anatomy was difficult so I did the only thing I could think of, pose. I took dozens of selfies with me posing in every possible position that every character would have throughout the book. From Norman walking to penguins painting, I captured them all.
With these photos I was able to start piecing together the characters.
Add color to give it life
Their is no alternative to color. Nothing else can take the mundane to beautiful so quickly. This applies to more than just drawing. Everything should have that distinct shade that cuts through the noise.
Norman's Architecture Adventure is about a young boy who wants to be an architect just like his mom. Along the way he explores, meets new friends, and learns that having an imagination is the greatest adventure anyone can have.
To learn more visit www.ArchitectureAdventure.com