Okay, so now it was time to start putting pen to paper by adding words to my pictures. Having been a teacher for a while I knew where I wanted to pitch the word level, what grammatical features I wanted to include and how I wanted to structure the sentences.
I began my writing at home but finished the first draft of the text whilst I was on holiday in the Lake District. It was completely coincidental that I was writing my first book whilst visiting the home and setting of one of the greatest children’s writers, Beatrix Potter. I went on a tour of her house and felt empowered with inspiration as I found out more about this remarkable author.
After I had finished the first draft, I called in the help of family members once again to give me feedback. Finally, after many, many tweaks I was happy with the words and ready to begin constructing the pages of my book…
After I had finalised my storyboard sketches, it was time to create a digital-art version of them. I wanted to show any prospective publishers that I am professional and can create high quality, aesthetically pleasing artwork. As there were over 50 original sketches, I set myself a target of digitising five pages a week.
A couple of years ago, I received a digital art tablet for my birthday. I have used my tablet to create many pieces of artwork for various projects, such as wedding invitations, business logos, a book cover and concept art. It’s very different drawing on a digital art tablet compared to pen and paper and it takes a bit of getting used to. It really tests your hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness. Thankfully, the other early projects had really helped me to develop my skills and create art in a more modern way.
As I was still working full-time as a teacher at that point, I worked hard most evenings meticulously turning my rough sketches into colourful, vibrant images. Initially, I wasn’t sure what style I should use to colour the images so I drafted five copies of the same picture in different styles. I asked a small group of close family members to tell me which style they liked the best… the winner was unanimous.
It took several months to completely digitise the artwork to a level that I was happy with. Now that was done, I was moving on to the next part… writing the words.
Back in early 2017, I started to put something down on paper and as I am first and foremost a drawer (illustrator if I’m trying to sound professional), I began sketching. Some may write first and illustrate later but that’s just not how I’m made. I’ve had a sketchbook and pencil in my hand for my entire life and that is how I feel most comfortable.
The initial concept was clear to me so the sketches for the first four or five pages came out quite quickly. After that, I took my time. I knew where I wanted to start the story and where I wanted it to go so it was just a case of knitting it together fluently. After each page I thought hard about the next and gradually built up my story. Some parts just naturally came out but others needed more thought. It was a long, enjoyable process which lasted a good few months. Some pages were drawn and then completely crossed out, while others were adapted and changed.
I didn’t want to be too strict on myself by saying, “I must sketch a page a day!” I figured this would be putting pressure on myself to force the next page when perhaps is wasn’t quite ready. I chose to take a more mindful approach by developing ideas when they were ready.
Eventually, after drawing, rubbing out, drawing some more, crossing out, rethinking certain pages and drawing some more, I was finished. I was very pleased with my final storyboard and I was ready for the next stage… going digital.
Deciding to write a children’s book.
Hi, I’m Rich. I’m the wrong side of thirty but the right side of forty and after a successful ten years in education I had a ‘light-bulb’ moment… For years I have been wondering how I can use what is probably my greatest talent, illustration. Then it hit me! An idea came into my mind where I could illustrate, exercise my creative mind and utilise the years of experience I have gained in teaching… So, back in January of last year I started sketching pictures for my first children’s book.
12 months on and I have finished it! The artwork is drawn, the text is written and I have submitted it to numerous publishers. I’m pleased with my book’s beautiful imagery, exciting storyline and cliffhanger ending. I wanted to create a children’s book aimed at children aged between seven and ten years old that has a combination of picture book-style artwork and an exciting, adventurous storyline.
Now I am at the painstaking stage of waiting to see if someone will take a chance on me as a new author… After twiddling my thumbs and pulling my hair out waiting for a while, I’ve decided to be more proactive so I’ve started this blog. I will share the process I have been through so far and keep the blog up to date with any new developments… Be back soon.