Whether I am creating an illustration for the page of a book, or---as in this case---the art for a pin-on button, I follow the same steps. I begin with what we call a template, or a mechanical---essentially a same-size diagram or pattern, showing the size and shape into which the finished art must fit.
For the button, the template was round, and 2 3/4 inches in diameter.
I next began making sketches in pencil on a transparent, vellum-type tracing paper. The transparency allows me to easily lay a new piece of paper over a sketch and trace the parts I want to keep, while changing the parts I don't like. It also allows me to combine different sketched elements at a later stage. My first little seated figure was this human child.
I next tried several doggy figures. This button will be for children, and the doggy figure won out over the human figure without much resistance on my part.
I next made a rough sketch for the placement of the text for the button on a separate piece of transparent paper.
By laying the two separate transparent sketches over each other, it was easy to position them in relation to each other as I wanted, and to create a third, combined sketch for the text and image.
I let the ink drawing dry overnight, as I always do, to make sure the india ink (which contains shellac) will be thoroughly hard and dry before applying any water media over it. The next day, I erased the pencil lines.
I then scanned the ink drawing, and printed out several copies on cheap paper. I used these copies to experiment with the button's color scheme. After several trials I arrived at an arrangement that I liked.
Before working on the final art, I always experiment with my chosen media combos on a piece of the same paper I'm using for the final. This is to make sure that my combos are completely compatible with each other. I had thought I would use markers for some of the color, to get some good bright saturation, but...oops! Although the markers had worked fine in my color experiments made on print-outs of the drawing, they caused the india ink line of the final art to "run", creating small rivulets of grayish wash. Since I had experimented on scrap paper---NOT on the finished ink drawing!---there was no problem. I made a quick trip to the art supply store, then came back to my studio to experiment with the various markers and colored inks I had picked up.
The Chartpak yellow worked fine. It did not affect the black ink line, and it gave me the nice bright color I wanted for the background. Because I had ironed out all the kinks in my color sketches, the remaing color work on the final art fell easily into place.
And what will the button be used for? A teacher-friend of mine runs a summer reading program for her school here in the Phoenix area. Each year she plans a special celebratory event at the beginning of school for all the children who have participated in the program. This year she invited me to help with the celebration, and I happily agreed. I will give a short presentation to the children; they will each get a pin-on button with the picture I created; and they will finish with an ice-cream party. A lovely way to end a summer of reading!