As a lot of people who have discovered this bog over the past couple of years know, I (and at least a few other people independently) created a personal art challenge called Drawcember. I created it over the disappointment I felt after discovering Inktober half-way though October. Unfortunately, doing a daily art challenge in December of all months, with a couple of young children, is sort of a recipe for disaster. So I never really did anything with it. Until now.


So this year, I’m going to try it again. This time, with a purpose. I’m trying to beef up the KidLit section of my website. And what better way to do that than by creating a fake children’s book at trying to illustrate it. Of course, this needs a plan as trying to crank out a drawing a day for an illustrated children’s book seems like a disaster for any month, never mind in December. December tends to be a busy month. So this month of of November, I’m going to plan ahead and get somethings sorted out before diving into a drawing a day.


First things first. A story. I’m not much of a writer, but I feel like I could at least get a germ of on idea on paper for a kids story, even if it would be a bit crude. The point of this exercise is an illustration one, not a writing one, so as long as I have a good story that would lend itself to illustration, I figure I could over look some of the nuances of children’s book writing that would be much more important if this was going to be a published work. And I have a story idea. A random bit of storytelling from my 3 year old daughter, “There’s a Bear in the Bathroom!” No idea what brought it up. I DID check the bathroom. No bears. No bare bums either. So not sure what prompted it, but I’ll take it all the same. The story is quick, short, and almost written. My deadline is the end of November.


Next, the format of the book. I need something to hang all my illustrations on. I feel this is where people who are interested in self-publishing their children’s stories fall short and scare off any would-be illustrators from working with them. I need some specifics of the overall book design. And there’s a LOT of options to choose from. All I have to do is look at the growing library of books my kids have collected over the years. I settled on something pretty basic. Twenty-four pages plus covers. And the size is going to be 8 inches x 7 8/16 of an inch. Seems to be a pretty standard size for all the licensed (ie Disney) softcover books out there. For the guts of the book there is usually a cover page, a catalogue page (with all the copyright and publishing info), and a dedication page (usually, but not always). That leaves 21 pages that will either be copy only, illustration only, or a combination of the two. For this fake book, I’m only going to be interested in the front cover plus guts. Back cover is usually reserved for author and illustrator bios and maybe a back catalogue of work. Same with inside covers. That leaves about 22 illustrations to be done in a 31 day month. That gives me some slack if I want to goof off on Christmas and New Years Eve.


And then comes the illustrations themselves. The monthly challenge is Drawcember. I ultimately want these in colour and I’d rather do that digitally. I think I’m going to do the illustrations traditionally in graphite (my first love). Paper is pretty portable, so I can draw anywhere without the anxiety of running out of power on an electronic device I don’t even own. Digital colour can be forgiving if you make a mistake or change your mind about something. I will scan these images in after December to get them coloured. So all I have to worry about is a single graphite drawing a day. I think I can manage. Especially if I have a pretty good idea of what I’m going to draw each day. Means that for this month of November, I need to be thumbnailing as I write this thing out. I’m thinking about 5 thumbnails per page. So that’s 110 thumbnails total! From there I will choose the best one and blow that up to size to use as a guide for my final drawing.


So here’s a few things I have already…

A very basic cover. Subject to change once I figure out what I’m going to draw for it. Gives me an idea how I’m going to handle the type and maybe just how much I’m really going to need to illustrate for the cover.

Some developmental images. These are a just a few of the many I made. Just trying to get a feel for the style and look for the various characters that will appear in the story. These are NOT the final character designs.


So stay tuned. I’ll probably post some thumbnails and final character sketches by the end of the month. Enjoy!