Illustrating a Childrens Book- an Inside Look

by David Finley

 Maybe you've dreamed of writing or drawing a children's book someday. There's magic in those memories now safely storred away in your subconscious, of your father, mother, or grandparents opening a book filled with vivid images and wonder, and reading.

ABC Witch page 3, A children's book illustration of the letter A asking the letter C to play.

 Picture a child's room, with its bright blue walls. A model airplane is suspended by thin wire connected to a ceiling dotted with plastic glow-in-the-dark stars. The room is mostly dark, lit only by the warm glow of a Spiderman lamp resting on the bedside table. A freckle faced young boy has just finished brushing his teeth with bubblegum flavored toothpaste and now waits impatiently as his father selects a book from the shelf. Tonight it will be 'One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.'

 The father briefly considers putting the book back in favor of something that will leave his tongue less twisted, but it was one of his favorites when he was young and he wants to share that experience with his own son. He heads to the boy's bedside. A jolt of pain shoots through the man's foot as his heel finds some carefully hidden legos in the carpet producing a limp which accompanies him on the rest of his trek until he settles in his usual spot next to his son's pillow.

 He reads the title aloud be fore opening the book, and watches as worlds of imagination and story unfold for the child he loves so much.

Becoming a Children's Book Illustrator

 The reading of the bedtime story is an age old tradition I hope all generations to come will continue to enjoy. These books bond us as children to our parents and open our minds to greater possibilities. It's often our first encounter with real literature and real art. They are narratives built to teach us, passing on our cultural ideals. The impact of these stories on us as we develop into personhood is immeasurable.

 These books are also filled with some of the most amazing and creative art I've ever seen.

 Inspired by artists like Dr. Seuss,  Mary Blair and Maurice Sendak, I decided to recieve the torch of Children's book Illustration, preparring it for future generations. I'd long ago fallen in love with these stories and now I want to make my own. Yet, the opportunity never quite materialized until recently.

My Children's Book- ABC Witch! 

 It just so happens I have this friend named Jonathan Hickey, who is a fantastic writer. I've called on him as a guest contributor to the Haven for Scofflaws, so his name is familiar to many of you.

Jonathan is one of those people who feeds my own creativity as I work with him. So, when he started talking about a quirky Alphabet based story he was making up for his kids, I jumped at the opportunity to draw it.

 The story is very simple. A, B, C, and friends are having a normal day until a witch disturbs their routine. Then a chase ensues! Jonathan was kind enough to lay the story out with thumbnails like the one below so there wouldn't be a lot of guess work for me. Here's page three as it originally appears.

ABC Witch page 3 predrawing, This is a rough sketch of page 3 of the children's book, 'ABC Witch!'
 The simplicity of the imagery is very important, so as I made the finished art, I focused on basic shapes, adding bits of texture from scans of brushstrokes and marks.

Your Children's Book

 So, now you know more about my project, but what about your children's book? What worlds are waiting their deliverance from the tip of your pen? What stories of struggle and triumph rest peacefully in the deep slumber land of your subconscious? What is the project you've always said you wanted to do someday?

 I understand that life is filled with distraction and responsibilities, but do yourself the favor of bringing these worlds to life now rather than later. The book you will write someday almost never gets made, but the book you work on now almost always does.

Thanks for reading, Scofflaws!

-Dave, Grand Poobah of all Scofflaws

p.s. You can see page one and two of the project by clicking the links below:


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