Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Illustrating The Yellow Tutu, Part 1

When I first read the manuscript for The Yellow Tutu, it pulled me along -- I wanted to see what happened next. There are things illustrators can do, too, to coax readers to turn the pages of a book. One is to guide the reader's eye from left to right wherever possible, creating a visual momentum that might move her or him to the next page. Another is to hold out something intriguing without revealing it right away.

In the first two-page spread of The Yellow Tutu, Margo wakes up on her birthday to find a big present at the end of her bed. I decided to show her on the left page, full of anticipation and ready to spring. Her eyes guide ours to the gift at our right. Above is the finished illustration I sent to Random House, with extended edges for "bleed" (the printed version is more closely cropped, showing less of the bedspread, package and bear).

Before going to color, I worked out the composition in pencil on a template my wonderful art director, Tracy, gave me. The centering marks at the top and bottom define the "gutter" where the two pages meet. Illustrators need to keep this area in mind when composing a picture book, lest important parts of the image get lost in the fold.

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