Digging through some old papers recently I found my original sketch for the illustration that became–in more capable hands than mine–the frontispiece for The Charlatan’s Boy. I thought you might find it interesting. Here’s a scan of my drawing (you can click on any of the images below for a more detailed look, by the way):
Not bad for an amateur, I don’t think, but not good enough for our purposes. Though I have harbored hopes of illustrating my own books, the picture you see above is really as good as I can do. So I sent this drawing to Abe Goolsby (who also illustrated The Bark of the Bog Owl, though not the other Wilderking books), and within a few days, Abe had sent me this:
I told Abe it looked great, but could he make the boy uglier–maybe with longer hair in the back, in the hairstyle the young people call a “mullet”–and change the cat from a bobcat to a panther? He came back with this:
I told Abe, “Yow! That’s too ugly.” So he went back to the original ugly boy, put the whole thing on scratchboard, and gave us this frontispiece, which I am very, very proud of:
The moral of the story: leave the illustration to illustrators.
Bonus Illustration Tutorial: If any of you are aspiring children’s book illustrators, you absolutely have to know how to draw a penguin. Here’s a link to illustrator Oliver Jeffers’ tutorial, “How to draw…penguins.” The first step is “Borrow a penguin.” The advice gets more practical, but still funny.
I am writing a children’s book and collaborating with my illustrator, who had a more ‘normal’ childhood than I. I started writing using photos of stuffed animals, so I really had no preconceived notions about what the illustrations would look like. This has worked out well, because she draws pictures and I say, “Wow! That is so much better than I even imagined.”I am not a very visual person.
When I have something to look at and copy, I can draw with modest competence. But the moment I look at what my friends who are real artists can do, I too throw up my hands and say, “No way I can ever dream to be able to do that!”
I’m afraid your crocodile didn’t look that fearsome either. 😉
Deepest apologies… that should be ALLIGATOR, not crocodile.
That’s what I noticed, too. Jonathan’s alligator looked all friendly and happy. The one Abe drew is positively glaring. It’s great.
It’s funny, isn’t it, how something as apparently simple as the arrangement of lines on a page can be so difficult to do well? And I say that as someone whose lines are never the way he wants them.
Also, for the record: I know it is probably in recognition of Our Nation’s Independence or Something, but I really missed APF this week… just sayin’. 🙂