The Evolution of an Illustration

I’m working on the illustrations for my next book and frantic to make the deadline in 4 days.

For my post today, since all I’ve been thinking about for the past month or so is these illustrations, I thought I’d share with you my process of one page, number 11. (I know you’ve seen this kind of stuff before and I beg your indulgence.)

It all starts with a thumbnail.

No wait, it starts with a story, THEN thumbnails. So, here is the thumbnail for spread 10/11.They are similar images, one with a cat curled up against a boy in bed and the other with the cat fleeing the bed.

The first full-size rough sketch looked like this and was part of the first dummy.

I refined it a little more and came up with something like this. It was used in one of the later dummies

It was still rough but there was something that bugged me about it. Looking at the 10/11 spread again, I notice how visually similar it is to page 10. Plus the boy was not supposed to see the cat and he seems to be staring right at it here.

I decided to view page 11 from another angle and came up with this sketch.

Refined a little more, added the cat making sure the boy wasn’t looking right at it

And then executed the final line work. You can see that I don’t necessarily work as a fully composed image, but rather in bits and pieces.

Like the line work, the colors and paint and were scanned and assembled in Photoshop.

Here’s a look at the final image looks like and a quick animation of how I got there.


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  1. Ghost cat!!! Can’t wait, Kevan!!!!

  2. I LOVED this! The process is 87% of my enjoyment of making all my art. Thanks so much for sharing this.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. Thank you, kevan, for sharing your steps to creative illustrations. The final image with animation is too cool!

  5. Very interesting to see your process, Kevan. Thanks for sharing!

  6. So sweet! I loved following your journe all the way to the last colored illustration. Cute kid!

  7. sorry . . journey ends in a Y.

  8. Way cool to get a glimpse of your process. Thanks!

  9. So, so awesome to see this Kevan!!

  10. Kevan, these step-by-step art process posts fascinate me! THANKS for this! 🙂

  11. Cool! Thanks for sharing the process!

  12. I love seeing how it all comes together. Thanks so much for the “behind the scene” peek.

  13. So interesting! Thanks for sharing with us!

  14. Helpful to see the process. Thanks Kevan.

  15. Kevin,
    Thank you for sharing this. It helps to be reminded that illustrating (like writing) is a (messy) process.
    I love yours.
    – Q

  16. Really love this format! So helpful for me as a writer to get a sneak peek at how the other side works. Dig the animation and the layers coming together. Very cool!

  17. Pretty fascinating! And exactly why I am NOT an illustrator! Looking good!

  18. The animation video of the process is really cool. If you haven’t already, you should share that on your website. Kids will love it!

  19. Love it. Seamless melding of traditional and digital media. End product is so effortless and beautiful.

  20. Love the background on your process but what really has me intrigued is the story this one drawing hints at. How long before we see the finished book, Kevan?

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