Revising Penelope

One of the hardest parts of doing a children’s book, so I’ve heard, is keeping your character looking consistant through all 16+ illustrations. Now I know what they meant. Case in point:

Illustration #4 of Penelope Pilot:

sketch4“Her head’s too big. It looks like a pumpkin on a stick!”  ;)  Never let it be said that I cannot handle a little criticism, even if it isn’t “seasoned with salt” to quote the Bible…  picture-7Plus, I heard her overcoat looks like a bathrobe.  Now I’ve drawn Penelope over 25 times now, and still I’m having the hardest time keeping her looking like this (color) each time…

Here’s the revised sketch, with an entirely new background. Notice how her head is now smaller. I was joking with my client, that now she looks more like a “rutebega on a stick”, rather than a pumpkin. ;)  See, still after 25 times, her head keeps changing size. Like my friend Jeffrey said, “Consistency is an art all in itself.” Amen to that.


Do any illustrators out there who have done children’s books have any advice on how I could keep this from happening? I’m open to any feedback out there.


3 Replies to “Revising Penelope”

  1. Very good points, you too. And something that, were I do create my illustrations solely in Photoshop or Illustrator, they are things I’d be doing. The problem is, I’m a little old-school. I do all of my illustrations by hand at first, then scan the sketches into the computer, where I redo the linework and add color. (Reminds me of this comic I got in my email yesterday: )

    Actually, I do colors this way, making a similar “swatch pallette” as a layer that I can always draw from, much like a painter’s palette (why can I never spell that word?).

    I’m doing all these sketches on tracing paper and pencil, so I can overlay previous heads – or like I have done now, lay all drawings out so I can visually see the consistency (or lack thereof). Again, thanks for the pointers, you guys rock!

  2. I might suggest you do up a model sheet of the character in Illustrator. You can do the head and body positions based on your sketches. So a front on view, 3/4 view etc. Then you just move the body and limbs to the desired locations.

    You will still have to tweak every drawing but at least you are starting with a solid foundation.

  3. Photoshop. When I do a book, I pick an image of my character that I think is the best, or actually an image for front view and side view if needed, copy it and then past it into all the other sketches. I overlay them and using transparency, check to see how close I am. Hey, it’s not cheating to use technology to our advantage, right? I consider this no worse than using a calculator to do match. This ensure that every page is consistent.

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