My technique (so far)

The finished illustrations for all of my picture books were made on computer, with a digital tablet. I use a pen-shaped mouse to draw (paint) colors, shapes, textures and tones as I would with a traditional brush or pen. But Photoshop allows more flexibility than paint and paper to move parts around, layer and rework if need be.

Steps to a book

The picture book process involves several steps, though they can vary from artist to artist (or book to book). Illustrators often start with character sketches and sequenced thumbnails of the story. At some point , we create a dummy, a sketched mockup of the future book. That's our guide to the finished illustrations, and how author/illustrators pitch a book to publishers and agents. 


Though my finished illustrations are digital, my books have all started with pencil. Oh, beloved pencil, you're under-rated! I love to get away from my computer sometimes to sketch, and I relish the textures, cadences and one-off quirks that only a pencil can bring

A drawing can be both worthwhile and hideous  

 I draw on cheap computer paper, because it frees me to explore. Some results are rather fetching; others make me cringe. But I've learned to weather through the ugly sketches. Sometimes, amid piles of appalling doodles, botched poses and excruciating scrawls, I'll glean the seed of an idea. Or a better drawing.

Draw something, even if it's wrong. 

To anyone learning to draw, I encourage you to find out all you can, of course, about line, tone, volume, perspective and all aspects of technique. But more than that, I urge patience: with your drawings and with yourself. If you've never felt frustrated by your efforts, then hooray! But if you're at all like me, you'll produce what look like stinkers along the way. Smile on them for what they are: steps (however indirect) toward something you can love. Then try again. And again . . .

For a glimpse at some of my dummies, click here.