This is the blog home of #kidlitart, a live Twitter chat Thursdays at 9:00 pm Eastern, for children's book illustrators, picture book authors, author/illustrators and friends. Check back weekly to read transcripts, comment on previous chats and suggest topics for upcoming chats.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Whoosh--it's #PBdummy, Step Four!

Step Four already? Wow--chats fly when you're having fun! :-)

So, now that we've got our picture book text in acceptable shape and we've developed a unique look for our characters, it's time for thumbnail storyboards.

The purpose of the storyboard is to view the entire sequence of pages at once in order to judge the flow: you will see at a glance how the scenes are distributed, the balance of spreads vs. single pages, the movement of the action (always forward), how the focus shifts from one scene to the next.

Start very simply--maybe with notes on what you expect to happen on each spread--and gradually refine your thumbnails as you work out the composition of each illustration. Final storyboards don't need to be finished masterpieces, but should be clear enough that someone unfamiliar with the text can read the action--and you should have some idea of where the text will fall when you're done.

Since this is (we're assuming) the first time you've considered how the text and illustrations will interact, now is a good time to brush up on the basics of how a (printed) picture book is put together. One of the best breakdowns is provided by our friend Tara Lazar in this popular post from her blog, Writing for Children While Raising Them. And here is a storyboard tutorial from an acknowledged master, Uri Shulevitz.

Once you understand the space you have to work with, you can create your own template, scaled down proportionately from whatever page size you choose, oriented horizontally, vertically or . . .um ... squarely.

You may run through several generations of storyboards as each set reveals strengths and weaknesses in your layout.

Join us Thursday, February 23, at 9 pm EST, to begin the process by discussing how to make the traditional 32-page format work for you.

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