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.

  • livingoakheart
    10:55 PM, 27 June 2011

    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.

    • Fellow Traveler
      4:02 PM, 29 June 2011

      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!”

  • Fellow Traveler
    5:54 PM, 28 June 2011

    I’m afraid your crocodile didn’t look that fearsome either. 😉

    • Fellow Traveler
      7:41 PM, 28 June 2011

      Deepest apologies… that should be ALLIGATOR, not crocodile.

      • sally apokedak
        12:23 AM, 29 June 2011

        That’s what I noticed, too. Jonathan’s alligator looked all friendly and happy. The one Abe drew is positively glaring. It’s great. 

  • Micah Hawkinson
    1:35 PM, 4 July 2011

    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’.   🙂

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