Due to an immense pile of work it has taken me a month to get around to writing this up!! I visited the exhibition on January 28th this year, to see the ‘picture this’ exhibition, and also because i knew that Lynne would be giving a talk about illustratinf children’s books. To save time i will just post the work i have created on this for my professional development file…..

LYNNE TALKING ABOUT ILLUSTRATING CHILDREN’S PICTURE BOOKS:-

HOW TO MAKE A BOOK LESS SCARY –

‘Bears on the Stairs’ – Lynne talked about the fact that she needed to draw scary images for this book but was concerned as it was a ‘bedtime’ story, and so she needed to make them ‘more rounded’ – she did this by adding baseball caps etc to the bears.She talked about how she tried to not make the bear character too ‘looming’ as this would be too scary for kids. She did however make him a little bit sinister, as he sat at the top of the stairs, she gave him a toy car to sneakily play with!

Lynne mentioned that using colour was also a way of making the image less scary, and she also added pictures of the ‘family’ on the walls of the staircase , so that of the child is scared by the image they can be reassured by looking at the picture of parents etc.

USING BOY OR GIRL CHARACTERS –

As the words of the book didn’t dictate as to whether the child was a boy or a girl Lynne originally did the character as a little girl, she changed this though as she said that she realised that boys won’t read books where the main character is a girl, but little girls will read books about where the main character is a boy – and so to sell more books she changed the character to a boy.

HOLDING A CHILD’S INTEREST WHILST READING –

Lynne said that she would create images where children could ‘find things’ whilst they were being read the story, and she would also invent extra characters to slip into the story, that allow the story ‘to go along’ – for example, and extra companion for the character perhaps.

In the book ‘ Bears on the stairs’ the incidental character that ran alongside the story was a cat, and the character enabled lynne to add in jokes and funny images (for example the cat pulling faces at the bear)

THE PROCESS OF PUBLISHING-

Lynne detailed the process of publishing by initially showing us her roughs and thumbnails, which she would eventually work up into A4 size roughs, or an A3 spread. She would then send these roughs to the publisher, who would then go through the work with a fine tooth comb, and would decide what they like and what they don’t like – usually without the illustrator being present.Lynne also mentioned that as an illustrator you usually don’t meet the author either, until yu go to the publishers party!

The publisher will then send through to the illustrator a list of things that need to be changed. She gave us an example from ‘Dragon’s Dinner’ where  Lynne had initially created 2 x single page  illustrations – one of the dragon asleep, and one of the dragon awake, and the publishers wanted her to create 1 x double page illustration of  the dragon, showing it to be half awake. She did re create this page, but still feels to this day that the dragon looks as if it is dead!

Image from 'Dragon's Dinner - illustrated by Lynne Chapman

Lynne commented on the fact that it is usual that the colour of the text in a book is always black, this is because of when it is translated – so this also impacts on the illustrations, and in the picture of the dragon in the cave, the cave couldn’t be black as then the words wouldn’t show, so it had to be purple instead. Lettering that is not black is possible, and is used in children’s books, but it costs more money to print.

The next step is that Lynne would send back the changes to the publisher and they would then show them to the author. Lynne commented that the publisher would possibly filter out 50% of what the author says. She would then finally do the finished art work.

LYNNES STYLE OF WORK –

Lynne uses a pink paper to draw with her pastels, she uses one that has a ‘good tooth’ so that it can easily hold all the pastel medium that she uses, and she chooses pink over white as she is not so bothered about the background paper showing through  then as pink looks better, and has less of a glare than white, pink also adds warmth where as white can be very cold.

She then traces up her images onto the pink paper using her lightbox, so that everything is in EXACTLY the same place as to what she has agreed with the publisher (of course this is an interesting point, the fact that you cannot now start making changes, but have to do what is agreed) – another reason for it being in the same place is that the gutter has to be exactly where it was so that images such as faces don’t end up going into it.

She estimated that it would take her 2 full days to work on and complete a full double page spread, and 3 months to do all the work from start to finish (but that is because she is experienced – I can see it taking me a lot longer!)

Lynne advised to NEVER draw the words ONTO the artwork because of translation (and at the end of the day publishers are very interested in ow many countries they can sell the rights of the book to).

Someone at the talk asked her how she initially got work as an illustrator, and she said that she took her portfolio round lots of publishers to show them her work, but she also took with her an article that she had done for a magazine that featured an image of ‘singing dogs’ – it just so happened that the publisher she showed it to was looking for an illustrator for a book on ‘singing cats’ and they decided there and then to give Lynne the work (amazing stuff!!)

SIZE OF WORK –

Lynne always works bigger than A3 and then crops to A3 because it is easier for her to create on a bigger scale because of using the medium of pastels and also she has to bear in mind posting the final art work off to the printers. Although she could quite easily hand deliver the final images if the publisher was in the UK, a lot of printing is done in China as it is cheaper, and so of course this has to be posted – and images A3 and less are easier to send.

She did warn as well about writing the words ‘art work’ on the packaging as she had a friend who was an illustrator who sent her final images to China, and did this on the packaging, and it never arrived!! She had to redo all of the work – there are thoughts that maybe the work could have been stolen by someone that thought there was valuable art work inside?

QUESTIONS FOR LYNNE –

Qu – How long does it take for your books to hit the shelves from start to finish?

Lynne –  it takes about 16 months to 2 years from start to finish (this makes me wonder how I am going to eat within that 2 years!!) Lynne said that because it is such a long time she often forgets how to draw the characters, and as she likes to go into the schools to promote the books she always draws them on the flipchart – so when the book is published and distributed she has to start practicing  drawing them again!!

Lynne also draws in EVERY book that she signs, which I find incredibly impressive!! – here is my signed copy!

Inside my signed book! - illustration by Lynne Chapman

Qu Do you ever show your work to children to check whether it is right, and to see if they like it?

Lynne – No, because I am really a 7 year old myself! (Love that answer!!) – however it does help for you to see what you think is funny and what children think is funny tend to be two totally different things!

An AMAZING and totally enjoyable day!! – thank you Lynne x

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