“Cowboy Come home”

character, children's books, design, From the sketchbooks, idea, illustration, Ken Wilson-Max, London, publishing, stories

Working with text and pictures.

The text is written and the layouts are nearly done. The working tittle is above. Here are sketches showing the treatment of the text which, to me, should be almost illustrated. The final exploration will be to bring type and image much closer together.

Recently, agents and publishers have asked for more finished presentation of book ideas. I have to admit to refusing to do this. It takes blood, sweat and tears! The reward is often a rejection with little or no explanation. It is an understandable development, though. Many people want to be published and there are not enough publishing lists is one reason.

Self publishing has opened a door of opportunity for the brave ones. It will take a little while longer to find the best way to do this with kids books, in my view, as they are still more expensive to produce.



The joys of parenting

african, baby, From the sketchbooks, idea, illustration, Ken Wilson-Max, London, pre school books, publishing

In Baby Ruby Bawled, published by Tamarind books in the UK, baby Ruby will not stop crying. All the grown ups try every remedy they can think of with no success. It is left to her slightly older brother to come to the rescue. The task, as I saw it, was to try to convey the super control being practised by the adults, giving them expressionless faces, or slight frowns. If you are a parent you might know what I mean. This was opposed to the total abandonment of baby Ruby’s bawling which had to be over the top and piercingly loud. A third factor to convey was the eager-to-help expression of Ruby’s brother, ignored by the grown ups (probably because they were too busy trying to stay calm).

From sketch to final art

Activities & Play, children's books, design, From the sketchbooks, idea, illustration, Ken Wilson-Max, kids, pre school books, publishing, Zimbabwe

This is a typical illustrator/editorial collaboration for an educational illustration project, even though we were continents apart…

The brief comes in; mostly written with a few examples of what has been done already. In this case it was for one illustration for an educational publication.You sketch and send back the first draft of ideas. They are almost always sent back with notes, like a positional guide. You make another round of sketches, this time following the brief more tightly and accurately. For me the second or third round of sketches is the last one and I make the sketches more finished In this case I pointed out where I had placed the required  features. If there is time (often there isn’t) I’ll add some colour or my signature black line in the hope of giving some extra assurance that I have got it right (finally). A couple of days later you get the go-ahead to do the colour art (I prefer to sketch and sketch but to paint less). I will have already decided how I  would tackle the colour, or been asked to work in a certain way.

Foxie and Mash Up Truck Version 2

character, children's books, design, idea, illustration, Ken Wilson-Max, pre school books, publishing, stories

© Ken Wilson-Max 2011

Developing an idea is a process.  Its full of holes and spaces into which you can fall and be lost forever, though.  For some the thrill comes from avoiding the creative pitfalls.  For others the result is the thing. Shaping an idea is not an exact science and very few come out ready to use and there is  a balance between being practical and ‘out there’ that has to be maintained.

Its great when the result works. Its great when it doesn’t (once you stop crying or destroying the studio) because you’ve learned something more about what you are capable of achieving. For me, ideas are best developed with others.

An orange truck this time…