Thursday, May 24, 2012


So far my posts about illustrating picture books have dealt with some of the more logical and rational parts of the process.  Today I'll talk about assessing the mood of a manuscript.  This can be a very subjective activity, dealing as it does with the invisible and the emotional.  Yet it is one of the most important steps that an artist goes through in illustrating a manuscript.  The more thoroughly she has absorbed the mood of the manuscript, the more successfully she can translate that mood into concrete images.  Some of the questions I might ask myself as I attempt to sense the mood of a manuscript:
Is it soft and fuzzy?  Sharp and distinct?
Bright and colorful?  Grayed and subdued?
Flat and straightforward?  Nuanced and shaded?
Flowing and flexible?  Stiff and rigid?
Plain and unadorned?  Complex and detailed?  
Amorphous and misty?  Definite and clear?

The illustrator absorbs the manuscript's essence through his pores, and then allows that essence to flow out through his fingers onto the page.


  1. how illuminating. you must be a sort of empath to be a truly great illustrator. and you, ms. watson are indeed a world-class empath and artist.

  2. Such perfect illustrations for your point . . . love these!

  3. Wendy, you are doing so much work to prepare these posts. They are so valuable and will be for many picture book creators.

  4. Thanks for another inspiring and illuminating post. I'm now really hoping fervently that you turn this into a book!

  5. Thanks for yet another illuminating and inspiring post! When will you collect these brilliant posts for a book?