Monday, January 06, 2014

Process Post: Keep Calm! My Stress-Busting Tips

In my last post, I declared that one of my New Years Resolutions was to be more observant. Another resolution of mine is to document more projects and the process involved. Luckily, I had this in mind early on in 2013 when I began work on Cloverleaf Books for Millbrook Press

My first book in the Healthy Habits series is Keep Calm! My Stress Busting Tips, written by Gina Bellisario (who happens to be in my kidlit family at Andrea Brown Literary Agency)! I also had the privilege of working with Laura Waxman (Editor) and Emily Harris (Designer) from Lerner Publishing. At the time I had signed on for three books and didn't know that I would continue on to work with Emily on FIVE books throughout the year. It was truly a blessing.

The beginnings of bookmaking are usually for my eyes only. I spend an afternoon ordering pages, making doodles, and sketching characters that most likely nobody else but me can understand. It looks like this:

From there, I keep sketching, but I go bigger and more detailed. These will be sketches the client will see. The next round of sketches will usually go through one more pass before I start coloring, but I will show some of them here side by side.

The first thing I do is decide on a main character. This is Anna. I read through the manuscript and develop her personality based on the text. She has a little "Stress Monster" that follows her around. I decided to keep him cute.

She is really stressed out! So much to do: homework, chores, and soccer practice! 

Her parents are a little stressed, too. Their mornings are just a little bit hectic. This is what my mornings look like when I wake up late. Please click on the images to make them larger!

I often overdo it when I'm sketching, it helps me to figure out the world the characters live in. I delete a lot of the details that get in the way and make room for text. You can see this in the soccer game spread top left. 

I always add details that I'm familiar with. At the time, I had just organized my colored pencils into canning jars, which made it into Anna's room, and I was thinking of my high school when I added he cougar paws to the bulletin board. Go cougars. (Haha!)

This is just a sweet little moment that I am fond of, but in the final art they have opposite emotions because Anna is starting to learn how to manage her stress. 

This book and the others in the series will be available in April 2014 on Amazon, at Barnes and Noble, and other retailers! Look for a process post video demo soon over on my other blog, Simply Messing About!



  1. I so enjoy working with you! Thank you for all of your great work!

  2. Awesome! Immense information there.

  3. Dear Renee: Thank you for offering the giveaway. I am a huge fan of your artwork! shiela